Doctors Can Now Prescribe Bike Share Memberships In Boston

Riding a bike is as good for your brain as it is for the rest of you, though medically speaking it's far from a prescribable cure. Except in Boston, that is, where doctors now have the power to prescribe an almost-free bike share membership to low-income patients.

The program is called Prescribe-a-Bike, and it allows doctors at the Boston Medical Center to write poor patients a $5 prescription for membership to the city's Hubway bike share program—which usually costs $85 to join. Patients also get a free helmet, according to Boston Magazine, and the program is aimed at reducing obesity amongst low-income Bostonians. Here's how the director of the BMC describes the initiative:

Statistics show that close to one in four low-income Boston residents is obese, almost double the rate for higher-income residents. Regular exercise is key to combating this trend, and Prescribe-a-Bike is one important way our caregivers can help patients get the exercise they need to be healthy.

The program is poised to do much more than give people a new way to exercise. It's also intended to boost bike share membership amongst the poor, a demographic that has been largely left out of the bike share programs that have sprung up around the country.

New York's own Citi Bike program has been criticized for excluding lower income New Yorkers, too—by requiring a credit card to reserve a bike, for example, and by not extending the docking station map to include poorer neighborhoods. In response, the program now offers a $60 membership to New York City Housing Authority residents—which pales in comparison to Boston's $5 fee. Citi Bike's precarious financial situation might have something to do with it. [Boston Magazine; CoExist]

Lead image: Jon T. on Flickr.