Monday, October 15, 2012
During the Sukkot holiday, a special event was held at a new cycle path inaugurated in Emek HaArazim (Cedar Valley) in Jerusalem Park.
During the Sukkot holiday, a special event was held at a new cycle path inaugurated in Emek HaArazim (Cedar Valley) in Jerusalem Park
. This new path, which is thirteen kilometers long, forms part of the Jerusalem Ring Bicycle Trail – a joint project implemented by KKL-JNF, the Jerusalem Municipality and the Jerusalem Economic Corporation.
Setting out. Photo: Yoav Devir
Yechiel Cohen. Photo: Yoav Devir
The event was held as a warm-up for the approaching Wheels of Love international bicycle ride, which is held annually for the benefit of children with physical disabilities who are undergoing treatment at Jerusalem’s Alyn Hospital. This year’s ride will take place in November with the participation of hundreds of cyclists from all over the world.
The new cycle path is situated amid the scenery of Jerusalem Park. For most of its length, the path is surfaced with asphalt, and is therefore suitable for all the family, including people with disabilities. Indeed, among the many riders at the Sukkot event was a group of blind cyclists who could be observed riding in tandem with sighted “captains.” Roni Eliahu, from Kiryat Anavim, was one of the tandem riders, and he explained to us: “This gives me, as a blind person, the opportunity to cycle together with a sighted rider, and a special bond develops between the two of us. Cycling like this enables us to prove to ourselves – and to others, too – that we can do anything we set our minds to, and can reach anywhere we want to go.”
Roni Eliyahu (second tandem rider). Photo: Yoav Devir
of Jerusalem was delighted to take part in this event for the benefit of Alyn Hospital, where she spent much of her childhood. Today, because of her disability, she uses a hand-operated bicycle, and she told us, moments before she set out on her ride: “It’s not easy to cycle like this, but it gives me a wonderful feeling. I’m getting stronger, getting fit and enjoying getting out into the country. The fact that KKL-JNF is developing accessible bicycle paths
is a very important matter for those of us with disabilities, because we all have the right to enjoy open-air activities in the countryside.”
Cyclists at the Sukkot event set out on three different routes: a challenging 23 kilometer route; an intermediate 15 kilometer route; and an easy 5 kilometer route. Because of the great variety of options, participants ranged from experienced all-terrain riders to children on their first bikes, some still using training wheels.
Rochele Fastman. Photo: Yoav Devir
Just before setting off, a short ceremony was held, at which Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat welcomed the participants and told them, “For me, this event symbolizes a love of nature, physical exercise, an important social objective and cooperation between different organizations that have come together for the sake of a shared cause.”
After his speech Mayor Barkat presented Eli Kashdan, Chairman of the Wheels of Love cycling event, with a plaque in appreciation of his work – and after that the mayor, not content to make do with words and grateful gestures, got on his bike and set out to cycle together with everyone else.
Wheels of Love Director Dr. Erez Ezrahi told those present that every year the cycle event attracts cyclists from all over the world, who come because of their love of cycling and their desire to help others.
Mayor Nir Barkat (right) presents Eli Kashdan with appreciation gift
Dr. Erez Ezrahi. Photos: Yoav Devir
Yehiel Cohen, Deputy Director of KKL-JNF’s Central Region, attended the Sukkot event for two reasons: firstly, in his capacity as local regional director, because KKL-JNF, with the help of donations from its Friends throughout the world, is responsible for most of the projects in Jerusalem Park, the new bicycle path included. And the second reason? He wanted to get on his bike and try out the new route for himself!
With regard to the cooperation with Jerusalem Municipality regarding the park’s development, Cohen explained: “KKL-JNF is responsible for carrying out most of the projects in the park. We regard the conservation of the green belt around the city as being of prime importance, as it provides local residents with a venue for recreation, enjoyment and relaxation.”
Cycling has become extremely popular in Israel over the past few years, and the inauguration of a new path is always a cause for celebration in the cycling community; no one was surprised to see that hundreds of enthusiasts had turned up for the event.
Cyclist in training. Photo: Yoav Devir
Yuval Ben-Moshe. Photo: Yoav Devir
Thirteen-year-old Yuval Ben-Moshe from Modiin gave eloquent expression to the thrill of riding a new and unfamiliar bike track: “It’s exciting to start out on a new trail that I’ve never tried before. I don’t know if it’s going to be difficult or easy or what I’ll find along the way.”
Yuval has been cycling for seven years now, and when asked what attracted him to the sport he replied: “It’s fun and you need a lot of energy. I often ride on KKL-JNF single trails, and it’s great that they keep on opening up new ones for us.”