Is Biking permitted on Shabbat?
The prohibition against driving is a straightforward application of the prohibitions on making fire and on doing things you ordinarily do during the week, and also, a central tenet of urbanism. For our particular event, to bring these two communities together, we are focusing on this overlapping value of not driving.
Arguably there is also an urbanist value to getting off of your bike every now and then. Urbanists also care about walkability. Walking restricts you to a smaller radius, and it’s important for urbanists to be intimate with their immediate neighbours and neighborhood. If you normally bike, it’s not a bad idea to slow down and get a walker’s eye view of your area.
In addition, there are other Shabbat prohibitions that impact whether you can ride a bike. There are many other prohibitions for Shabbat that prevent us from accidentally doing work or being tempted to do it, and also to make sure that the day is noticeably different from other days. If you typically bike to work, bike to the grocery store, bike everywhere, then biking is a week-day like activity and to make the day holy you probably should not bike on Shabbat.
If you don’t normally bike, then you should ask yourself whether you think that riding a bike is a type of carrying. Some people say no, the bike is carrying you, you’re not carrying the bike. Others point out that you have to exert effort and skill to keep the bike from falling and to cause it to move. A bike with no support falls over and does not move from one place to another, it’s not a donkey, so maybe you are carrying the bike, as it carries you.
Another question is what you plan on doing with your bike once you get to your destination. If you’re not going to be carrying, you can’t carry a bike lock or key. You also can’t carry a spare tube or repair kit. If your bike breaks on your ride (including if your chain falls off or gets tangled), you can’t fix it. Are you prepared to just leave your bike where it is if you get a flat? If you fall over or drop it, and the chain comes off the gears, can you just leave it where it falls? Probably not.
A third concern is that riding a bike might facilitate traveling too far. During Shabbat you’re not supposed to travel more than 0.598 miles from the edge of your city, however, the edge if the city isn’t the municipal boundary, “According to halachah, unless there is more than 70 2/3 cubits between one house and the next, all contiguous housing is considered to be part of the same city. Therefore at times it would be permitted to walk even from one city to the next, as long as the whole way is populated.” However, in any case, you can’t travel more than 12 miles.