In Israel, the car is still king

Published date21 November 2022
Publication titleGlobes (Rishon LeZion, Israel)
At a conference last month, organized by Transport Today & Tomorrow - The Israeli Organization for Sustainable Transportation, Prof. Karel Martens of the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, presented an overview of some of these transport projects. One is the Heinrich Heine - Shalabim highway in Tel Aviv. Prof. Martens demonstrated that, although 52% of the road has been allocated to green transport, it does not serve public transport users adequately. "A street that provides space for everyone does not necessarily provide service for everyone," he explains, and it is clear that this is just one example among many

"The road consists of four car lanes, two bus lanes, bicycle paths, sidewalks, and a grassy median strip. The street is beautiful, and though it has a bus lane, bus users won't go there, because the street is designed for high-speed traffic, and the experience of waiting for a bus is like standing next to a major highway. It is a fast highway, with no intersections that is great for cars but bad for pedestrians who have to get to the bus stops by crossing between the traffic lanes.

"Most of the time traveling by public transport, from door to door, is spent on walking and waiting for the bus, not sitting on it. So, fast roads don't translate to fast buses, because the lack of intersections requires a longer walk next to a busy road; people simply will not walk there, those who have a choice won't use it, while those who don't will opt to give up on commuting, or rely on a family member with a car."

"Prioritizing public transport means taming cars"

According to Prof. Martens, good public transport in cities should be developed in areas where the streets are interesting, speed limits are low, junctions and pedestrian crossings are many, and sidewalks are wide and pleasant. "In order to make public transport a priority, cars must be 'tamed' by removing them from some city streets, reducing their speed, eliminating some traffic lanes and narrowing those that remain, prohibiting left turns, and other measures recommended by the OECD," he says.

Similar examples can also be seen along the light rail projects in Jerusalem and the Gush Dan (Tel Aviv Metropolitan) region. In Jerusalem, the light rail runs along Jaffa Road where lively pedestrian traffic encourages commercial activity. But in other areas, construction of grade separations, tunnels, and interchanges have made it difficult for...

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