Tel Aviv City Bikes to Rest on Yom Kippur

Tel Aviv residents who want to ride bikes on Yom Kippur won't be able to rent them from the city's Tel-Ofen bike racks.

Yaakov Levi ,

Israel news photo: Flash 90

Among many secular Israelis, Yom Kippur is, besides a day for prayer and introspection, a day for bike riding. The lack of vehicular traffic in big cities brings out kids who ride their bicycles along the normally traffic-choked streets, with nary a car in sight.

Those who want to ride bikes in Tel Aviv will have to bring out their own – because the city plans on shuttering its Tel-Ofen bike racks for the duration of the holiday. Like in other big cities like New York and London, Tel Aviv offers a cheap rent-a-bike program, where commuters who want to get around town can leave their cars at a municipal lot on the edge of town and bike through the streets or on specially designated bike paths in order to get around more quickly and efficiently.

During the week, Tel-Ofen riders tend to be business people and students on their to or from work or school, but on weekends and holidays, customers are Israelis coming into town for a day of urban leisure, city residents who want to get around town, and tourists.

For the third year in a row, however, the bikes will be locked away for Yom Kippur. In a statement, the Tel Aviv Municipality said that it would close down rentals for most people at 11 AM Friday morning, Yom Kippur eve. Anyone who rented a bike before then would have to hold onto it until midnight Saturday, and pay the full rental for the period.

The Municipality did not say why it was suspending service. In 2012, the Transport Ministry threatened to cut off funding for the program if the city desecrated Yom Kippur by allowing rentals, and for the past three years there have been no bike rentals on the holy day in Tel Aviv.