Bike Share Programs and Exercise Prescription
On recent travels, we have seen evidence of the increasing interest in bike sharing services. Bike share programs have been around since the 1960’s in Europe, but only recently have taken off worldwide with increasing affiliation with communities and government and quick payment access through various apps. Bike sharing services have faced challenges but clearly have health benefits, can lead to cost savings for individuals, they decrease the impact of travel on the environment and allow an increase in exercise while outdoors. As promoted by Cycling CME and many others, exercise should be considered medicinal – exercise as medicine. This is the main focus of the organization, “Exercise Is Medicine” and is promoted worldwide.
A recent initiative in the UK has gone an extra step toward the health benefits by promoting the bike share program to patients at a medical center. Patients at medical centers in Cardiff, Wales will be offered 6-month subscriptions to a bike-rental service that will allow the user unlimited bike rides. This follows a similar initiative in Boson where physicians could “Prescribe-a-Bike” through a bike share program. These two programs are excellent examples of initiatives aimed at increasing the amount of exercise to improve an individual’s health using a practical and fun application. As cycling and exercise promoters, we hope that other communities and health systems will embrace these types of innovative projects.