How Jerusalem turned a sewer line into a tunnel for cyclists


The 2.1km-long Kerem Tunnel in Jerusalem is the first bike tunnel in Israel. Photo: AFP

Israel is without a doubt one of the world's leading innovation hotspots, earning it the nickname of "Start-up Nation". And when it comes to soft mobility, Jerusalem has just opened one of the world's biggest tunnels for cyclists.

A little more than two kilometres long, it is the first of its kind in Israel. It is intended to encourage cycling in the city and to attract tourists by offering them safe routes for getting around.

The purpose of the tunnel, which took more than two years to build, is to encourage cycling in Jerusalem.

The Kerem Tunnel offers a unique experience in Israel, with the possibility of riding in complete safety, without having to share space with cars, trucks or other potentially dangerous road users.

It's designed in particular for young people and families to enjoy. City officials believe that this tunnel can also contribute to the development of tourism by attracting visitors who want to discover the hidden treasures of Jerusalem by bicycle.

The municipality was supported in this project by the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage and the Ministry of Tourism. The tunnel uses an old sewer line that has been completely renovated and secured, with renovations including a ventilation system along its entire length. It connects two parks and provides access to the city's zoo and aquarium.

This tunnel is part of a larger concept of improving transportation in Jerusalem. Indeed, the tunnel connects to the existing network, a long ring road of some 40km of bicycle paths around the city, with the aim of encouraging cycling among its residents and visitors, while also promoting the move to greener transport in the capital.

The idea of tunnels exclusively for cyclists in big cities is certainly catching on. Finland's capital Helsinki will soon have a large tunnel specially dedicated to pedestrians and cyclists, which will pass under its central station.

Its purpose is of course to encourage cycling in the city centre, but also to relieve traffic congestion in the area.

An even more incredible project could also see the light of day in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, where an improbable bicycle path taking riders under the waters of the IJ is now being studied. – AFP Relaxnews

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