Good morning dear reader!
I hope your new year has begun well. Today we all return to routine, the first work day of 2020.
We don’t really make too much of New Year’s in Israel. Sure, the start of a new year and especially a new decade was not ignored. We watched the fireworks from other places in the world on TV. In the afternoon our time already, images were coming in from New Zealand, where the new year began first. And, of course, yesterday morning many people tuned in to see the famous New Year’s celebration in New York City’s Times Square.
In Israel it was a much more quiet affair. A normal work day for most. I was the only one in our house who bothered to stay up until midnight. And that was only because I needed to pick up my son from a local movie theater, where he’s been working as he waits for his official recruitment into the IDF.
The start of a new civil year, as we call it, is certainly celebrated in private circles, but not really in public. Still, the police had their hands full stopping people who had drank a little too much before getting behind the wheel of a car. If you remember from yesterday’s report that included horrible traffic accident figures from the past year, Israelis are not the most cautious drivers.
The truth is that there are simply too many cars in Israel. This can be most felt in Tel Aviv on the Ayalon Highway (pictured above). Despite the fact that the Ayalon boasts four lanes in each direction for much of its length, there is almost always a traffic jam. The same is true on most of the roads in central Israel, where millions of people living in a geographically small area are all trying to get to work in the morning, and back home in the afternoon. Road congestion is inevitable. And don’t get me started on the futility of trying to fine a parking space in Tel Aviv.
In a belated effort to ease the congestion, the authorities have started establishing carpool lanes. Until now, those lanes were reserved for public transportation, but now any vehicle with at least two passengers, in addition to the driver, can use them. The idea, of course, is to encourage people to stop all driving their own cars, and to ride together with those who live nearby. A number of mobile apps help fine carpool opportunities, such as Moovit and the new Carpool feature on Waze.
Get There Faster Together
Carpooling has the potential of helping us all get to our destinations faster. The roads will be less congested, so less time waiting in traffic, and there’ll be a much better chance of finding parking if everyone isn’t driving their own vehicle.
In the meantime, I’ve resorted to taking the bus to and from work. And if the traffic is too heavy, I sometimes use the train, though at present there still isn’t a direct rail link between Jerusalem and Modi’in, where I live. I first have to take a train to Tel Aviv. Still, at least I know exactly when I’ll arrive home.
Here’s to wishing you a pleasant day, and a safe drive, wherever you might be going.
Shalom from Jerusalem!