JNF Australia likes the bikes

December 5, 2012 by Ahuva Bar-Lev
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Perfect Israeli weather, not too hot, not too cold, and new bicycle paths – what conditions could be more perfect for a winter morning bike ride through a section of Jerusalem Metropolitan Park…thanks in part to JNF Australia?

Tandem bike riders on the Jerusalem Park bike trail. Photo: Tania Susskind

Last Friday more thanforty bike riders met near the Beit Zayit dam on the outskirts of Jerusalem, where they were greeted by Yoav Becket, a KKL-JNF bike riding guide who helps plan and develop new bicycle trails in KKL-JNF’s parks and forests. Yoav explained that the group would be riding along the Nahal Sorek streambed to the Telem springs, about eight kilometers away, on a trail that is almost completely paved in asphalt. Jerusalem Park is maintained and developed thanks to the help of friends of KKL-JNF all over the world, particularly from Australia, where supporters recently made a substantial contribution for park development.

Suzanne and Michael Farber, who came with their daughter Nava, ride regularly with a group of cyclists from Jerusalem’s Givat Ze’ev suburb. “When I was a teenager in London,” Suzanne said, “I pretty much went everywhere on my bike. When I immigrated to Israel, I sort of put my bike aside. One day I was talking to my friend Mona, and we both realized that we really miss riding our bikes. So we invited a couple other moms and started riding regularly, every Friday. We even gave our bike riding club a name – M.O.B. – which stands for Moms On Bikes.


Suzanne Farber (left), with the M.O.B club. Photo: Tania Susskind

The Jerusalem Park is a new metropolitan park that extends over some 3700 acres, surrounding the capital from the north, west, and south. The park preserves ancient landscapes and offers a variety of recreation opportunities, including footpaths, bicycle trails, picnic sites and playgrounds. It includes large, open expanses, agricultural terraces, the remains of canals and pools that were used for irrigation and watering herds, ruins and natural springs that are still flowing and trickling into small pools with lush flora all around. “At first, we mainly rode in our neighborhood, but then we started biking in nature, and eventually, our husbands and some of our children joined us. We discovered that KKL-JNF had blazed new bicycle trails in all sorts of open spaces, for which we’re very grateful. The more bike trails KKL-JNF makes, the happier we’ll be.”

Friday’s route was yet another section of a 45km ring road for bicycles that will eventually encircle the entire city. Green organizations, led by KKL-JNF, succeeded in halting the building development project known as the Safdie Plan, which threatened to bury all this beauty under concrete and cement. A network of paved park roads and bicycle trails ensures easy access by motor vehicle, bicycle, and on foot to the various attractions and facilities. Jerusalem Park is also the site of the 9/11 Twin Towers Memorial, which was constructed by KKL JNF with the help of friends of KKL JNF in the USA to commemorate the victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attack.

Most of the route has already been completed, and scenic observation points have been constructed all along the bicycle route.

Ovadia Harari came with his son and son-in-law from Rishon Letzyion. “We are regular participants on KKL-JNF bike outings. We’ve done Adulam France Park and the Givat Yeshayahu region. Bike riding is a great sport and lots of fun, plus a perfect way of spending time in nature.” The park has become very popular with Jerusalemites, but not only. Shimon Levi (14), and his sister Batsheva (12), came with their mother from the city of Modi’im. “We ride a lot in Ben Shemen Forest,” Shimon said. “KKL-JNF has done a great job of creating trails in that area, but we wanted to try something new, which is why we’re here today.”

Suzanne added that they’d been riding in the Jerusalem Park area before KKL-JNF and other organizations began developing here. “We’re really happy to see that KKL-JNF created these trails. It helps encourage people to get out and ride together with their families.”

Less than an hour after setting out, the group arrived at Telem Springs in Arazim Valley, beneath Mevaseret Tziyon. “It was absolutely charming,” said Hannah Jesner. “We saw new places, Yoav explained about the local history and nature, and the weather was like a dream. We’ll definitely be back here.”

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