BicyclesIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The city of Tel Aviv has decided to discontinue its Yom Kippur bicycle rental service.

On Tuesday, Mayor Ron Huldai ordered that the city-sponsored “Tlat Ofan” (lit. tricycle) company cease its activities. The company had rented bicycles to residents who wished to use them during Yom Kippur.

On Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, religious Jews fast and attend prayer services in the synagogue throughout the day. Many secular Israelis fast as well and, while they do not attend synagogue services, most Israelis refrain from driving cars out of respect for the sacred day. This has resulted in a habit of riding bicycles along city streets in place of cars.

Huldai’s decision was praised by Tel Aviv City Council member Binyamin Babayof of the Shas party. Babayof told Arutz Sheva individuals will still be able to ride bicycles in the streets on Yom Kippur, but that it will no longer be sponsored by the municipality.

“We asked that they take the holiest day of the year into account and not create provocations,” Babayof said. “Thankfully the mayor understood the significance of the matter.”

Babayof insisted that despite the decision there is absolutely no religious coercion in Tel Aviv.

“I’d be happy if everyone was in the synagogues on Yom Kippur, but we do not impose this on anyone,” he said. “However, there is a big difference between that and renting out bikes on Yom Kippur. Just as there is no public transportation on Yom Kippur, there’s no reason to operate a bike rental service.”

Babayof noted that Tel Aviv is a mixed city and as such there’s no reason not to take into account the needs of all populations.

“This is a mixed city: there are people who are elderly or disabled and each has his own needs,” he said. “I am a religious man and have the needs of a religious man.”