IDF Tells Cycling Soldiers to Find Other Means of Transport

Soldiers serving in rear bases who regularly ride their bicycles to base may be surprised to learn that army regulations actually prohibit their chosen method of transportation.

An IDF soldier risking life and limb on two wheels in Tel Aviv
Tal Cohen

Commanders have recently asked the soldiers and officers under their direct command to obey Israel Defense Forces regulations and find alternate means of transportation.

Soldiers and officers are prohibited from riding on roads or the shoulders of roads nationwide, because of the danger of being hit by careless drivers.

"This is the epitome of stupidity," one officer told Haaretz. "After my direct commander was informed that I regularly ride my bike to base, he called me in and told me I was breaking army rules. He said that when I'm in uniform, I'm 'army property,' and therefore am endangering him as well.

"I'm proud of my military service and the fact that I wear this uniform. I obey all orders given to me, but at the same time I'm environmentally aware and I prefer to bike to my base than take a car. Why is the army turning me into a criminal?" he said.

Several soldiers and officers have recently asked their commanders to verify IDF rules on the matter. "We were told explicitly that it's prohibited because riding on roads is dangerous. It's ridiculous that the army sends troops to battle behind enemy lines daily, but forbids them from biking, which they do to maintain physical fitness or out of environmental awareness," an officer told Haaretz.

Details of the ban on bike riding emerged as the IDF is taking measures to ensure that soldiers lead healthy lifestyles. Large bases in the center of the country, including the Kirya defense compound in Tel Aviv, now have special lanes for running and walking, and base cafeterias are serving healthier food.

A statement from the IDF Spokesman's Office to Haaretz said: "Bicycle-riding in a military environment is allowed only on designated paths. These safety regulations are binding on all soldiers, officers and noncommissioned officers.... The IDF encourages physical training, including bicycle riding, to maintain combat readiness, but only within the military's existing security regulations."

Sources in the IDF Spokesman's Office said the regulations do not apply to soldiers and officers when on leave.