Although Tel Aviv’s sidewalks may be safer as a result, bike riders – even those who obeyed the law – were quite unhappy with the enforcement of a law against riding bikes on sidewalks. According to a consensus of bike riders – and pedestrians – interviewed on Channel Two, the new law is just “another way for the government to extract money from hapless citizens.”
Under the law – which had already been on the books, but which is now being enforced anew – Israelis who ride their bikes on sidewalks for pedestrians will face fines of up to NIS 250 ($75). And if an enforcement officer so desires, he will be able to take the air out of the tires of riders who remain uncooperative.
The fines are part of a new campaign by the Road Safety Administration and Israel Police on bicycle and pedestrian safety. The campaign will see police enforcing the no-riding-on-sidewalks rule, as well as rules regarding wearing helmets, riding with traffic and not against it, stopping at traffic lights and pedestrian crossings, and so forth. Failing to stop at a red light will also generate sanctions, as well as fines of up to NIS 1,000.
The enforcement program began in Tel Aviv on May 1st and is eventually to spread throughout the country. But according to one bike rider interviewed on Channel Two, the enforcement of the law was a major waste of time, and used up resources that could be better utilized helping the poor, elderly and handicapped. “Here is a better project for the city if it wants to enforce a law. Let them ticket the cars that are parked in front of bike paths, or the storekeepers who place trash cans on the paths, forcing riders to find alternative routes. In fact, let them fine pedestrians who walk on bike paths.”
According to Channel Two, police have been preparing themselves for hostile reactions to summons distribution, and the government has been running a campaign to alert riders and pedestrians about the implementation of the program, and why fining riders is important.