I'm in full agreement with the top Op-ed in today's Jpost - making biking safer in Israel is a smart move. As it seems that the sport is, in any case gaining in popularity, simple steps that would make it less dangerous seem to be basic common sense.
I have been using a bike to get around on for approximately 8 months. It is healthy, environmentally friendly and certainly a lot cheaper than driving or taking the bus. It is also frequently hair raising - not least when I see the number of people for whom preserving their styling is more important than the possibility that their brains might be dashed out. I was shocked to be asked recently by a fellow cyclist why I bothered with a helmet - as if it wasn't obvious. Making helmets mandatory would be a very smart step and wouldn't cost the Government a penny - though some would surely claim it to be a "bike tax" - if so then so be it.
Whilst the idea of having dedicated cycle lanes, touted by the piece is fine in principle, for them to work in practise they would have to have some sort of separator - otherwise they would be parked on, just like any other piece of spare roadway or pavement seems to be. Local Government could enrich its coffers by the simple act of enforcing parking laws properly, especially after 7 p.m. when anything goes. A cycling lane which required dodging cars would be more dangerous than the current situtation so unless built along the lines of Jerusalem's single pathetic effort, I don't see how they'd work properly although for the small cost I'd certainly applaud the idea.
Israel is a country that lends itself very well to cycling - Jerusalem to Tel Aviv is no great stretch of the imagination and the Kinneret bike ride is a lot of fun. A bike tiyul for the more committed could cover the length of the country in less than a week - many charities do just that. Improving the facilities to make this wonderful sport a lot safer would be a fraction of the budget spent on building roads for the gas guzzlers - surely it makes sense?