Tel Aviv, from the river to the sea

Cycling in Tel Aviv makes a lot of sense. You can ride from the Ayalon to the sea or the Carmel market to the Yarkon river in as much time as it takes to find a parking place in the city center and you park for free.

Tel Aviv’s growing stature as a global city of note has been accompanied by a growth in cycle paths. As a cyclist I applaud this, and as a citizen I take pride in my city’s efforts. Although the city has a tendency to mark lines on the pavements and pretend they are bike paths, there are increasingly effective and professional paths. Pavements are problematic for me, because I weigh 80 kilos and on level surfaces go at 30 KM per hour: On downhills I can break the speed limit (See my activity on Strava).   

Another great step forward has been the installation of bike rental devices (Tel-O-Fun) across the city, providing a lovely – and efficient -alternative to public transport.

Despite all this progress, I’m sorry to say that bike paths have not yet expanded to the suburbs and the paths being built in Tel Aviv don’t connect to the cities that surround it. It’s as if there were bike paths in Manhattan but not in Queens or Brooklyn, or in the West End of London but not outside it. If we are going to see massive commuting by bicycle, we need paths that stretch out of Tel Aviv and link it with its environs.

I live in Tel Aviv and work in Petach Tikva and get to work in twenty minutes.  I would say “most days” but in truth it is every day. Traffic jams don’t affect me.  Mind you, I live in Hadar Yosef, which is as close to Petach Tikva as you can get and still be in Tel Aviv.  Even so, from my apartment I can get to Herzliyya Pituach (crossing Ramat Hasharon) in 30 minutes and to Kfar Saba  (crossing Raanana) in 45 minutes.  That’s without mentioning Ramat Gan or Givatayim.

“From the river to the sea” is a term used by Palestinian nationalists, but Tel Aviv has two great avenues for cyclists, the first is the sea and the other is the river and if you’re in the city as a visitor, make sure you take a bicycle and ride along the sea and then down the river because they are our two really great rides.


About the Author
Jonathan Lowenstein is an Anglo-Israeli who has lived half his life in England and half in Israel, but has never spent longer then a decade continuously in either country, Both Tel Aviv and London are his native cities and he has almost always commuted by bicycle. In the 1990's, he helped found the Tel Aviv Bicycle Association, arguably Israel's most successful bicycle advocacy organization, now known as the Israel Bicycle Association.