Make way for cyclists in Tel Aviv

The 'Amsterdam of the Middle East,' Tel Aviv has miles of urban cycling paths and a new bike-share program.

• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

Back in the 1990s, Tel Aviv’s bicycles were pushed to the margins of the urban landscape, which lacked bike lanes or bike racks.

In the past decade, however, Israel’s cosmopolitan capital has reimagined itself as an Amsterdam of the Middle East with miles of bike paths on sidewalks, boulevards, and in the streets.

With its generally flat terrain and temperate climate, Tel Aviv is an ideal city to navigate on two wheels. The network, marked with bicycle stencils, runs the length of the city’s Mediterranean seacoast, reaches down leafy historical avenues, and sweeps through the commercial center. The city also inaugurated a bike rental system, the Tel-O-Fun, with some 150 rental stations throughout the city. Usage has exceeded expectations, and the distinctive green and gray bikes with upright seating have become ubiquitous. A leading enthusiast is Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, who test-drove one of the Tel-O-Fun bikes and christened a bike traffic light.

Let’s be clear: Tel Aviv is no Amsterdam – most of the bike lanes are on sidewalks. On trendy Rothschild Boulevard, the cyclists must dodge cafe tables, and on Ibn Gavirol, the bike path is interrupted by trees, benches, and building columns. But in a country where the volatile Israeli driver dominates the roads, some of that turf is being retaken by cyclists.

Think you know the Middle East? Take our geography quiz.

Get daily or weekly updates from CSMonitor.com delivered to your inbox. Sign up today.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.