Learning from the European Experience: Delegation of Israeli City Engineers to Germany

Transport Today and Tomorrow
The publication: 

Sustainable Transport

Learning from the European Experience

Final Report

By Transport Today & Tomorrow

August 2011

Delegation of Israeli City Engineers to Germany, May 2011




Transport Today & Tomorrow (TTT) is the leading Israeli NGO in the field of sustainable transportation. It works in conjunction with other NGOs and decision makers in order to promote the principles of walkable cities, efficient public transportation and environmentally friendly transportation. Since 2008, TTT has organized courses for representatives of local authorities, where up to 30 participants studied multiple aspects and projects of sustainable transportation. The feedback received pointed out the need to study not only the theoretical approach to sustainability, but also the best practices of successful implementation. In Israel, however, successful projects are rare.

Thus, the idea of a study tour to some of Germany's leading examples of sustainability was born in cooperation with the Heinrich Boell Stiftung. In 2010 the first delegation of Israeli policy makers and professionals had been carried out. In light of the successful experience and positive feedbacks, in 2011 a second delegation had departed to Germany, implementing the lessons we have learned from the previous year. The experiences, lessons, and effects of the tour over the delegates will be presented in this report.


The Tour meets our basic view, according to which "one should see in order to believe.” We think that people and organizations will take different decisions once they are shown functioning alternatives to classical approaches. Buzzwords like "sustainable development" are not sufficient enough to bring about a change; it is the "facts on the grounds" that can trigger the shift in attitude, needed to promote sustainable transport. According to this view, we aimed to achieve the following:

      Establish a community of politicians, decision-makers and professionals who are committed to the promotion of sustainable transport through events, local and national conventions, committees and workshops

      Reinforcing and supporting individuals who are active in the promotion of sustainable transport, by developing ideas and solutions for their daily work.

      Creating "facts on the ground" with partners through experimental projects that will serve as concrete, illustrative examples proving the feasibility of effective sustainable solutions


The main goal of the delegation is to expose Israeli decision makers and implementers to the best practices in Germany's sustainable transport community. Meetings with counterparts and peers will allow the participants to learn from successes and mistakes in Germany, raise awareness for challenges and create exposure to new ideas. Inspired by both the creativity and the tools to be demonstrated in the tour, the delegates will be able to serve as the committed promoters of sustainable transport in their municipalities and ministries.


Heinrich Boell Stiftung (HBF) www.boell.org.il

Contacts: Mrs. Renate Eisape (Berlin Office), Mrs. Elisheva Benstein (Tel Aviv Office)

HBS is the German green foundation affiliated with the German Green Party. We are a non-profit organization striving to promote environmental justice and sustainable development, civil society, equality, women'srights and gender democracy internationally. With headquarters in Berlin, Germany, the HBS has 28 offices worldwide and cooperates with over 200 partners in more than 60 countries. HBF organizes the schedule of the tour in Germany and the logistics, as well as funding the expenses of this tour.

Transport Today & Tomorrow (TTT) www.transportation.org.il

Contacts: Ms. Tamar Keinan, Mr. Mossi Raz, Mrs. Hani Cohen-Kaspi

TTT was founded in order to change transportation policy in Israel, and to encourage the development of alternative transportation systems such as public transportation, walking, cycling and others.  Our approach is to "work with" rather than against the system.  Our work focuses on research, publishing professional articles, advocacy on the national and local level, and activities which encourage the use of public transportation as an alternative to private vehicles. The delegation is part of the activity under the project of "Sustainable Transport in the Local Municipalities", supported also by the Green Environment Fund (GEF).

2011 Delegation Members

Mr. Mossi Raz

 Mossi is Member of the board of Transport Today & Tomorrow and the head of the delegation. He is also the Israeli co director of "All for Peace radio" (an Israeli-Palestinian radio), chairman of "Life and environment" - the Israeli union of environmental NGOs, chair of the national executive of Meretz party, chair of Bizchut - an organization which was founded by "the association for the citizen rights" for the rights of disabled people, chair of the Israeli Forum for ecology art, and ex member of the Knesset.

Prof. David Mahalel

David is the Chairman of Transport Today & Tomorrow, Professor of transportation Engineering.  The former Head of the Transportation Research Institute and the former Head of Ran Naor Safety Research Institute.  He has a B.A. in Statistics and Economics from the Hebrew University, M.Sc in Operation Research and D.Sc in Transportation  Engineering (1979) from the Technion.  He was Post Doctoral Fellow in the Imperial College in London (1979-1980). He held research and teaching position in University of Massachusetts in Lowell (1988-1989) and was an Honorary Visiting Academic, Middlesex University, London, 2000. He is also a former member of the Board of Or Yarok -an NGO for promoting traffic safety.

Mrs. Hani Cohen – Kaspi

Hani is a board member of Transport Today and Tomorrow. She holds an MA in Public Policy and Urban Planning from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and works in the economics department of Egged, Israel’s leading transport operator. For the last ten years, Hani has been active in the field of improving sustainable public transportation, both professionally and on a volunteer basis with several NGO's. She specializes in community planning and implementation of public transportation projects.

Dr. Michelle (Michal) Sofer

Michal is an Architect and Town Planner graduated from the Technion (B.Arch. 1980), and has D.Sc in Town and Regional Planning from the Technion (1995). For the last 4 years Michal is the chief engineer of the city of Acre. Acre is a unique historic city sited in the periphery of Haifa's metropolitan area, in the north of Israel. Acre was declared by UNESCO as a world heritage site twice: for its old city (an Osman city built on top of the of the crusaders capital); and for the Bahai's Gardens, the Bahai's holiest site. Acre has 54,000 inhabitants - Jews (72%) and Arabs (28%).

Ms. Aliza Seidler Granot

Aliza is an Architect, graduated at the Technion (Israel institute of technology) in 1992. Aliza works as the chief city engineer in the municipality of Hod-Hasharon, city in the south part of the Sharon district, 15 km from Tel-Aviv - Yaffo.

Dr. Fayez (Josef) Salman Nakad

Fayez (Josef) is a resident of Shfaram and works in Shfaram municipality as responsible for transport, road safety and public transport department. Shfaram is a predominantly Arab city in the North District of Israel, at the entrance to Galilee. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), at the end of 2009 the city had a population of 35,300. Shfaram residents belong to three religions (Muslims, Christians and Druze). Shfaram Mayor, Mr Nahed Khazim, doing the best he could to promote the range of issues important to the residents of the city in general and of Transport in particular.

Mr. Avi Ben-Hamo

Avi is the Director General of the Municipality of Petach-Tikva. Petach-Tikva, the 6th largest city in Israel, is located at the heart of the country, populated by 210,000 citizens. For the last 3 years Petach-Tikva is the leading city in the country in positive immigration, due to massive building projects, it is the largest health centre and has the largest industrial zones per city. During the last years, the Mayor of Petach-Tikva has instructed the Director General to put special emphasis on sustainability and to develop sustainable strategies in relevant fields. Ever since green missions were defined, as part of the annual work-plans of the municipal departments and units, such as: recycling materials, energy saving in various fields, paperless work in offices etc.  The Department of Environmental Quality has developed educational programs for schools and all the citizens of Petach-Tikva contribute their share in the common goal - the promotion of sustainability.

Ms. Topaz Peled-Shteinberg

Topaz is the Traffic Engineer of the Tel-Aviv and Center districts at the Ministry of Transport.  Previously she had served as the Chief Traffic Engineer of the municipality of Hod-Hasharon and as a senior planner at a traffic engineering firm. Topaz holds a BSc, Civil engineering from the Technion Institute and MSc, Industrial Engineering from Tel Aviv University.

Mr. Kiril Koziol

Kiril is an Architect who graduated in the Technion in Haifa 20 years ago. Kiril was practiced especially in town planning, from the public service point of view. For the last two years Kiril is serving as the city Engineer of Ness-Ziona - a middle size suburb of Tel Aviv - Yaffo.




Program Report

Day 1: Sunday, May 15. Arrivals at Berlin

F:\תיקיה חדשה (2)\IMG_1771.JPGWe have landed in Berlin and welcomed by Ms. Renate Eisape. Following a short introduction, we have recieved a ticket for berlin's public transport. It was the moment when each one of us had realized it is not a standard tour in which we come to hear about sustainable transport; rather, we came to learn the transport through the experience of our legs. And what better way is there to learn?

From the airport we took a train to the hotel and after lunch received a guided bus tour around Berlin. From the bus we had seen Berlin's important sites, among them are Unter den Linden Blvd., the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, Alexanderplatz, the Wall, and others.

Day 2: Monday, May 16. Visiting the Heinrich-Boell-Stiftung and an E-Mobility Project

The second day was started in the Heinrich-Boell-Stiftung, with Mr. Bernd Asbach, Head of the Middle East Department. We were mostly impressed of 2 things: first, the foundations' impressive activity in promoting an environmental agenda in Germany, and second- the fact that Mr. Asbach himself does not hold a private car and use public transport. We were convinced again that things can be different then what we know. We were taken for a tour in the green building, which was built entirely on the principles of sustainable building. Again, we were amazed it had parking for only 2 cars in total- both are designated for people with disabilities, in order to encourage workers and visitors to use public transport.


After the meetings in the Heinrich-Boell-Stiftung, we were taken to the "Innovation Center for Mobility and Society Change" in Berlin. We were exposed to an innovative project which integrates between car sharing, the electric car, bicycles and public transport. We have learned that the changeable mobility patterns require creative solutions. An example for this kind of solution is the development of a "trip planner" as a Smartphone application, which recommends the ultimate trip between destinations by integrating public transport, bicycle, walking or car sharing. We have also learned about the trial to combine use of electric energy in cars and bicycles.

F:\תיקיה חדשה (2)\IMG_1545.JPG      F:\תיקיה חדשה (2)\IMG_1549.JPG

We then experienced a ride in the electric bicycle and the electric car.

Day 3: Tuesday, May 17. "People and Mobility" Exhibition and the trip to Freiburg

We had opened the third day of the tour traveling to the old aerial of the Anhalter Goods Train Station, to see an exhibition about "People and Mobility". We had learned there about the development of the transport system in Germany throughout history, and were presented some fascinating statistics.

We then headed back to Berlin Central Station to take a train to Freiburg. The ride in the train had provided us a good opportunity to discuss our experiences from Berlin: we had learned how does all systems of transport in the city are connected and coordinated; tickets serve all modes of transport and enable passing from one to another; and all stations provide access to real-time information.

7 hours later we arrived to Freiburg and immediately received from the hotel a free ride ticket to the public transport. We then realized we are in a city obligated to sustainable transport- not merely by speech, but also in action.

Day 4: Wednesday, May 18. Freiburg and the neighborhood of Vauban

Home for some 220,000 people, Freiburg considered around the world as a model of sustainable city. We started the day with a fascinating lecture about city planning in Freiburg. We then went on a tour in the city. We have seen the central station which efficiently integrate all transport modes- the heavy rail and the light rail transit, buses, and of course- bicycles. We were especially impressed by the bicycle parking lot, containing up to 2000 pairs of bicycle and including all equipment that riders might need.


We had lunch in the oldest restaurant in Germany which exists for 750 years, where we met Mr. Timoty Simms, city council member on behalf of the Green Party. Mr. Timoty had told us about the commitment of the city's council and inhabitants to the promotion of sustainability issues in the city.

We toured the historical city center; although most of it was destroyed in 2nd World War, it is lively and vigorous. We had witnessed how the urban planning approach which emphasizes pavements and bicycle lanes while preventing cars from entering- does affect not only the traffic, but the whole essence of the city. It is bustled with tourism, commerce and recreation.

We took a bus to Vauban, a neighborhood world-wide famous for its sustainability. Mobility is made mostly on foot, bicycle, or the electric train riding along the main road. Houses are planned to consume low levels of energy by the principles of sustainable building.

We have also realized that one of the neighborhood's strengths is the organization of the community and the involvement of people in all planning stages concerning their lives. The community organization and the structure of the neighborhood remind us in a way the model of the Israeli Kibbutz…

Today was the busiest day of the tour, and certainly the most enriching day.

Day 5: Thursday, May 19. Rieselfeld, the Black Forest and a lake in a park

We've opened the day with a tour in Rieselfeld- the new and biggest neighborhood in Freiburg. Like Vauban, Rieselfeld considered a successful model for sustainable planning. An impressive fact is that the light rail was active as soon as the neighborhood was populated. The streets were planned and structured so that all inhabitants are in a walking distance from the train stations.

During the tour we arrived to a square named after the brothers Hans and Sofi Scholl, who were executed by the Nazis for distributing pamphlets calling for the end of the Nazi rule. The brothers are considered as a model of courage and humanitarianism.  The floor is decorated in stones shaped as pamphlets spread on the floor. The visit in the square was a moment of excitement for the delegates.



Through breathtaking landscapes, we went on a train to the Black Forest. We had our lunch in a hotel which produce all the electricity it consumes, from solar and wind energy. We finished the day in a wide and beautiful park which was built over an old mine. We have witnessed how an Environmental hazard can be turned into a site for leisure and relaxation.


Day 6: Friday, May 20. Basle

In our last day we took a train to Basle, an hour and a half long ride. We visited the biggest "Green Roof" in Basle, and learned it is using solar energy; improving town's climate, as well as aesthetics; and contributing to plantation diversity. We were explained about the vision of Watt 2000 for reduction of energy consumption.

We then had a transport tour in Basle: the efficient public transport system is covering every corner of the city in high frequencies, the pedestrians and cyclers are well integrated in the system. We had visited a park built in proximity to the high-way- which is covered with glass to prevent air and noise pollution. We had finished the day in the big central station of Basle, having a designated parking for bicycles.


We said goodbye to Renate, who had been leading the tour professionally, with great devotion and cordiality, and took a train to Zurich Airport.

Back to Israel

Only after returning to Israel and everyday work, we had realized the extent to which the tour had contributed to a change in our consciousness. The experiences we pilled had opened our eyes and change our conception in many aspects. We saw a different reality which is committed to sustainability not merely in words- but in action. We have seen the theories and values realized in real things- in the streets, in the roads, in playgrounds, and mostly- in people's perception. We have seen how sustainable transport enables vigorous urban life; the importance of reference to pedestrians and cyclers; and the significant of the community in the process of planning. We took with us what we saw, learned and experienced- back to Acre, Petah-Tikva, Nes-Ziona, Hod-Hasharon, Ashdod and Shfaram.

From the delegates' notes

"Participating in the delegation had opened my eyes and changed my perception in many aspects… since my return I think over and over again on the topics raised in the tour, and especially on their meaning here in Israel, in my everyday work in acre… as for the human composition, I was enjoying not only by each and every one of the delegates, but also from the composition: The representation of different kinds of knowledge, experience and viewpoints- academic, political, professional, administrational, and the one of urban planning".

                                  Michal Sofer

 Chief engineer of the city of Acre

"What can we do here and now so that urban quality of life would not be a futuristic utopia?... the people we met are not imaginary; the values they had realized are not clichés; rather- it is real places- buildings, streets and playground… the answer lies in the "knowledge" and the ways it is being endowed- starting with the education system teaching kids to ride bicycles (we saw!), through simple "know how" of planners, all the way to systematic continuous collecting of information (we heard!). We need a bit less 'vision' and more everyday, simple doing".

Kiril Koziol

City Engineer of Ness-Ziona 


"So we have decided the state of Israel, that this is the direction [sustainable transport]. Now for it to work we need to change people's habits… when we see those 'people' in other places- getting off the tram, either in a torn jeans, in a 3-parts suit, or with the kindergarten teacher- we have no choice rather than acknowledging it is possible… There isn’t always one right way… there is a great significance in analyzing advantages and disadvantages and defining priorities. As more as we will see and listen to the experience of others- we will do these from a wiser and more realistic standpoint".

           Topaz Peled-Shteinberg

 Traffic Engineer of the Tel-Aviv and Center districts

 The Ministry of Transport