In the previous Halacha we have explained that running is prohibited on Shabbat. There is no difference how fast or slow one is running. Our Sages derived this law from the verse which states regarding the Shabbat, “And you shall honor it by not making your ways,” meaning that one’s mode of walking on Shabbat should not be like one’s mode of walking during the rest of the week. The Poskim derive from here that it is likewise prohibited to ride a bicycle on Shabbat.
The Reason for the Prohibition of Running on Shabbat
Regarding the prohibition to run on Shabbat, some write that this is prohibited because it looks like one is running to his business dealings as he would during the week while others write that the root of the prohibition is because straining one’s self by running on Shabbat is contrary to the delight of Shabbat.
Running for Pleasure
Based on this, the Samag (Sefer Mitzvot Gadol) writes that it seems to him that young men who derive pleasure from their running and jumping may run on Shabbat, for they are not running to their dealings in addition to the fact that they are enjoying their running. The Tur and Maran HaShulchan Aruch rule likewise.
Similarly, if one is walking outside and rain begins to fall or one is concerned that it is about to start raining, it is permissible to run, for it is discernible that he is not running to his business dealings and running in this situation is considered one’s enjoyment, for if one does not run, on the contrary, he shall become upset as a result of being stuck in the rain. Likewise, one is permitted to run when a dog is chasing him and other such situations.
If one is walking on the street and reaches a puddle of water, one may skip or jump over it; even if the puddle is so large that one cannot put his first foot down before raising the other (i.e. although both of one’s feet are in the air at the same time which, in general, is prohibited like running on Shabbat), it is better for one to skip over it rather than to walk around it, for, on the contrary, if one walks around it, this causes one to trouble himself more.
Bicycle-Riding for Small Children
As we have explained, the reason for the prohibition to run on Shabbat is because it looks like one is rushing to his weekday business matters and because running is contrary to the enjoyment of Shabbat. Similarly, riding a bicycle is likewise prohibited on Shabbat for the same reasons, for bicycle-riding appears like an action reserved for weekdays, not for the holy Shabbat.
We must now discuss the law regarding small children. May they ride a bicycle on Shabbat or not?
If we are dealing with older children, i.e. those who have reached the “age of education” which is at approximately six or seven years old, one should prohibit them from riding a bicycle on Shabbat regardless, for one is obligated to educate them regarding Mitzvah observance like adults. However, regarding younger children who have not yet reached the “age of education” and wish to ride a tricycle on Shabbat, several great Acharonim write that there is room to be lenient in this matter for several reasons (see Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat Part 4, page 43).
Summary: Running is forbidden on Shabbat. However, when running serves as an enjoyment for the individual and there is no concern that it may appear that he is running to his business matters on Shabbat, such as children and adolescents who enjoy running, someone running to get out of the rain, and the like, it is permitted to run in any of these situations on Shabbat. One should forbid even his small children to ride a bicycle on Shabbat unless they are very young and would like to ride a tricycle on Shabbat, in which case one may be lenient and let them ride it. (These kinds of bicycles are not Muktzeh.)