Header Photo Credit

*The stunning photo in the header of my blog is all thanks to Ron Shoshani. Visit his facebook page for more of his amazing photographs of Tel Aviv!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bike Theft in Tel Aviv Runs Rampant

The best way to get around Tel Aviv is, hands down, by bike.

To begin with, the city has a relatively flat and even topography. Plus, with the sea to the west, it's always easy to navigate. If you know where the sea is, you can orient your self in a jiffy.

It's also really awful to drive in the white city.  People drive like maniacs, and traffic jams and bottlenecks are the norm. Moreover, in Tel Aviv, coming upon a legal left-turn is like winning the lottery.  

And, then, parking. There's no where to park unless you want to pay an arm and a leg. The search for parking doubles the length of any trip, and once you find a spot and read the fine-print on the sign nearby, you realize that parking there is illegal and you have to move the car anyway.

All of this, plus the sky-high gas prices, the terribly long and uncomfortable bus rides, and the totally unreliable trains, makes traveling by bike by far the fastest, healthiest and most affordable way to get around the city.

Even in the rain! Look!
Yes. Those are plastic bags on my feet.


The big but in the room is bike theft. I know it happens everywhere - but in Tel Aviv it bike theft is an industry. In my 4 years as a TelAvivian, I have had 4 bikes stolen and 2 seats stolen. For those of you math geeks out there, with seat-thefts that breaks down to more than 1 bike a year!

Tel Aviv bike theft is such a well known phenomenon that there are blog posts about it everywhere.This one, by lock your bike blog, is one of my favorites.

At the end of the day, most people spend minimal money on their bikes, paint them ugly and invest in a good lock.

So, why am I writing about it now? Because it seems like the thieves have taken a new approach to theft. They're no longer cutting locks out in the open. No. Now they have developed strategy!

The newest approach is to steal your bike seat, and then use their lock to lock your bike again. When you arrive you have no way of cutting their lock off. You have to leave your bike there, take your bike apart, or find your own cutter to destroy their lock.

They then return later, usually at night, with a cutter to steal your bike when no one is around.

Moral of the story?
1) always take your seat.
2) consider getting a subscription to Tel-O-Fun (The green bikes in Tel Aviv- "ofan" means wheel in hebrew, and "ofanaim" means bicycle.)

Here's a photo of the pretty green bikes.

While they aren't the most convenient, they can be a good way to get around the city. And they don't get stolen. Plus, if you're not living in the stone-age like me and you have a smartphone, there's a nice Ofan app that shows you where the closest Tel-O-Fun station is with available bikes!

Check out the app:

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