Tel Aviv expanding bike rental service to outlying neighborhoods

13,000 people have annual subscriptions to the service, costing NIS 240 for city residents and NIS 280 for non-residents.

The number of people using Tel Aviv’s bicycle rental service is greater than anticipated and the rate of vandalism is much lower than expected, said Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai at a press conference on Tuesday, where he pronounced the program, inaugurated seven months ago, a success.

Some 13,000 people have purchased an annual subscription to the service, which costs NIS 240 for city residents and NIS 280 for non-residents.

Every day, about 5,500 bikes are rented at the city’s 141 rental stations, about half of which are in the city center.

The city announced on Tuesday that it was going to offer daily and weekly subscriptions, which would serve mainly tourists, at a cost of NIS 16 and NIS 60 respectively.

People will be able to use their credit card to purchase the daily and weekly subscriptions at the rental stations, whereas annual subscribers have to purchase an electronic chip either at the municipality or on the website of the bike provider, Tel Ofan.

Compared to other cities worldwide the cost of bike rental in Tel Aviv is not the highest, but is also certainly not the lowest; the weekly rental cost is relatively high. In London, a 24-hour rental costs the equivalent of NIS 5.90, but in Washington D.C. it costs the equivalent of NIS 26.50.

The director general of the Tel Aviv Economic Development Authority, Sharon Keren, said that demand had been high for daily rentals over the past two weeks’ pilot program. He said the delay in offering daily and weekly rental options had been due to technical difficulties in the rental system. “Daily subscribers are much more sensitive to problems than yearly subscribers. You come once, and if it doesn’t work, it’s a 100-percent failure. But for an annual subscriber, a problem [with the rental system] once in two weeks is not the end of the world,” he said.

Keren said they wanted to open 50 more rental stations in more outlying neighborhoods and focuses of high demand, such as the courthouse area, Florentine and the beach promenade.

Another possibility under discussion is free parking for Tel Ofan subscribers at the Ganei Yehoshua and nearby parking lots, encouraging commuters to leave their cars at the city’s outskirts.

The Tel Aviv Economic Development Authority is in talks with the municipalities of Ramat Gan and Herzliya to expand the project to those cities. The municipality of Givatayim is moving ahead on a separate project to rent electric bikes.