Bicycles are the budget-friendly, eco-friendly way to tour
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Tel Aviv residents have discovered a better way to get around their hometown. Instead of sitting in traffic jams and getting irritated, they zip carefully in and out and between the cars and get where they're going in no time, saving money , saving the environment and saving their health too - not to mention no searching for that ever illusive, expensive parking spot in central Tel Aviv.
These green bicycles which have become a familiar site in the town are part of the international bike rental scheme, which already operates in many large cities including London, Amsterdam, Paris and Montreal, intended to help save the environment (hence the green colour adopted by the Tel Aviv branch).
The idea is becoming more and more popular for Israeli commuters. In Tel Aviv 5,000 bikes are used every day among the 150 docking stations, where you can pick up a bike using your credit card. You can take out a daily, weekly or annual subscription (the daily one here is 14 shekels, about £2.50) and the first half hour is always free.
The idea of the scheme is that you use the bike in spurts of half an hour, incurring no extra payments after the initial daily or annual pre-purchased subscription. Before your half an hour is up, you return the bike to another docking station and, if necessary, pick up another one and continue on your journey.
As a visitor, you'll get a chance to see the "white city that never sleeps" up close and at a nice slow pace. Unlike on bus and cab rides, you're not limited to roads and you'll be able to travel through parks and along the boardwalk by the sea.
Hire a bike just for the fun of a leisurely tour of the city, or decide where you're going, pick up a bike near where you're staying and drop it off when you get to the beach, park, museum, or wherever. When you've had a great time, pick up another one for your return journey. The other big advantage is that if you're too tired to cycle home, you aren't stuck with the bike and can pick up a cab or bus.
For more information on the bike scheme, see www.tel-o-fun.co.il which at the moment is only in Hebrew. However it's worth printing the map of all the docking stations, as there will always be someone on hand to help you translate it.