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Bike Share Prescriptions Fight Obesity

Talk to your doctor today


Riding your bike might be just what the doctor ordered. That is, if you’re struggling with obesity and poverty in Boston. As of this week, Boston Medical Center doctors can write low-income patients prescriptions for a $5 subsidized one-year membership to the Hubway bike-share system—a program that normally costs $85 a year. 

The annual subscription allows qualifying patients to use Hubway’s 1,100 bikes at 130 locations, the Boston Globe reports. Plus, users get a free helmet.

“There is no other program like this in the country,” Mayor Marty Walsh told Boston Magazine. “Prescribe-a-Bike makes the link between health and transportation and ensures that more residents can access the Hubway bike-share system.”

So far about 900 Boston residents are enrolled in an existing subsidized Hubway membership. Local officials hope the program will rack up at least 1,000 additional memberships.

To get a prescription, users must be 16 years and older and enrolled in some form of public assistance, or have a household income of no more than four times the poverty level. 

The problem is, only about 14 percent of Hubway bike-share stations are in low-income neighborhoods. Here’s hoping that changes with an increased demand from prescription users.

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021
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