Tel Aviv: One Big Parking Lot

“That’s OK, we can walk to the curb from here.”

Annie Hall fans will recognize the famous quote Woody Allen says to Diane Keaton after her awful parking job in 1977’s Best Picture. If that film were remade in Tel Aviv today, the dialogue could make sense rewritten as –

ANNIE HALL: “Wow, a parking spot!”

ALVY SINGER: “Yeah, it’s called the sidewalk.”

If you only had five seconds to try and explain how life in the Middle East differs from life in North America, you could say People park on the sidewalk here. For me, it was definitely one of the differences that shocked me the most. Sometimes riding my bike in my neighborhood feels like I’m in an apocalypse fantasy film, where everyone’s abandoned their cars on the highway during a mass evacuation. The unspoken glances amongst a bike rider, a young couple with baby in a stroller and someone walking their dog, as we intersect at the same narrow pathway of space between one two three (!!!) zigzagged parked cars on an otherwise quiet and picturesque side street are laughable to say the least.

Maybe you’ve noticed the ubiquitous road and sidewalk construction projects everywhere you turn.  Um, maybe that’s because the sidewalks here are made of loose bricks held together with dirt in between them, and everyone’s parking Hummers on them!?! Just sayin’. Seriously, city planners and engineers: maybe we could divert some of the concrete we build our (uninsulated, freezing) homes with and use it to make sidewalks that won’t crumble the next time my neighbors feel like having a tailgate party on them?

And, Rita, are you listening? Where the hell are you meter maids anyway – hoarding 2-for-1 ginormous bundles of 60-pack toilet paper rolls at SuperSol? Bet busy writing more tickets! There’s a disconnect I don’t get: I’ve been a passenger in cars driven by my Israeli friends, and they’ll fret whether to take a questionable parking space and agonize over not wanting to get a ticket. But then, who are all these other people who think my sidewalks are their parking lots? I seriously can’t figure this out. (Desperate  Plea for Comments ALERT:) If you have some insights, please leave your comments after the article.

How could we not mention the scooters, nachon? I’ve got less beef with parking them on the sidewalk. They’re closer in scope to bicycles, which rightfully get parked there. Plus, they’re lighter and smaller than cars. But have YOU ever been almost mowed down by one going 30mph 48kph, as you wheeled your baby or walked your doggie down the tranquility belegan of the effin sidewalk!?!!! What’s the deal, people – you’re wearing a helmet to protect you from accidents on the Ayalon at speeds in excess of 75mph 120kph, yet you see nothing wrong with riding where unprotected and unsuspecting pedestrians are daring to walk? Hello, mandatory sentencing???

I just had a thought. Maybe if the construction crews used all the land mines dog crap abandoned on the sidewalk as mortar instead of just dirt for the bricks we make our sidewalks out of, they would hold together longer than a few months before needing the next repair job. Kill two turds with one stone, ya know? I’m crafty like that.

That’s all I got for my rant this week. Still a little traumatized from the cell phone talkin’, 50kpm drivin scooter rider, who Evil Kneiveled over a chain of three parked Citroens on a Sokolov sidewalk and almost killed me and my pup Petey while we were bent over picking up somebody else’s dog’s steaming load.


  1. Simona

    November 18, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Actually, I disagree with your tickets comment. Parking tickets are given out quite frequently here, at least in my area in central Tel Aviv. The police sit around waiting for people to park in the wrong spot like they have nothing better to do. A sure fire way for the city to make some money!

  2. Scotty P

    November 18, 2009 at 8:16 am

    This is what I hear. But that’s part of the disconnect I don’t get. It’s like – then why aren’t they ticketing +/or towing in my neighborhood, and what kind of drivers live here that have the balls or eff-it attitude to park on the effing sidewalk !?!

  3. Ashley

    November 18, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Got to tell you Scott, as a car owner and long-term Tel Aviver, it’s a war out there and survival of the fittest. Park where and when you can, otherwise somebody else will take that spot and you’ll be left roaming the streets. That’s why my wife parks the car. :-)

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  6. Paul

    November 18, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    there are NO actual spaces anytime after 5pm, unless you’re willing to drive around the block for 15-30 minutes (which isn’t that enjoyable after a 10 hour work day), so that unfortunately leaves the footpath as the obvious place to park … there’s no other option … even the underground carpark can have a 30 minute queue to get into it after 10 pm :-(

  7. Barak

    November 19, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Hi Scott

    very funny , sad and true post. I have to agree w/ Simona as far as the abundance of people who issue parking tickets in this city.

  8. Scotty P

    November 19, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Thanks, Barak!

    Wow, that sucks, Paul. Wouldn’t it make someone a lot of money, whoever decided to build some more private parking lots? How come no one does, I wonder?

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  12. Danna

    January 30, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    I gots to chime in. When I moved to La la land I got towed three times in the first few month. Unfairly. One of the things I love doing beat when visiting Israel is parking on the sidewalk on bograshov and Ben yehuda and watching my car while eating my fav borekas. It gives me a sense of anarchy and accomplishment that nothing can come close to in LA.
    Hail hail to parking on the sidewalk. Even if only for a little while. And as gor your perspective, rent a car for a month and c where you r at.
    Keep me posted.

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