Doctors in Boston 'prescribe' very low cost bike hire for patients

$5 annual bike hire offered like food banks to improve health of those on low incomes

by Sarah Barth   April 12, 2014  

Bike hire bikes (pic by jezzzer)

Doctors in Boston can now prescribe very low-cost bike hire to their patients to help combat obesity in low-income communities.

Under the “Prescribe-a-Bike” scheme doctors at Boston Medical Center can write “prescriptions” for low-income patients to get yearlong memberships to Hubway, the city’s bike-share system, for $5.

Alan Meyers, a paediatrician at Boston Medical Center told The Slate: “A clinician working with a patient or family could generate this form and then a hospital parking office which is right on the campus could enroll the person in the program.”

Hubway’s annual membership usually costs $85, making the $5 annual prescription even cheaper than the $6 daily visitor bike pass.

There will also be no requirement to prove creditworthiness or insure against loss or damage.

The costs will be borne by the city rather than a medical insurer.

The scheme is being compared to a food bank run by the hospital, which provides low income patients with nutritious food provided by charities - but the bike scheme differs in that it requires no medical need and is based solely on income.

“It’s really a point of convenience, and we hope that coming from a physician it may give people more of a stimulus to actually buy it,” Meyers said.

In the UK, doctors routinely prescribe exercise to patients for a number of health conditions ranging from obesity to depression.

GPs can refer patients to a local active health team for a number of gym or exercise sessions which can be free or low cost depending on individual circumstances.

At present prescribed exercise in the UK takes place in a gym or health centre.

3 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

At last! Proper grown-up joined-up thinking. Pity it's in America and not here but I live in hope. Lets pray that this idea doesn't sink in the middle of the Atlantic.

This has seriously made my Sunday morning! Off for a ride see you all later.
Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin

posted by levermonkey [378 posts]
13th April 2014 - 6:56


Nice to see a sensible, and highly reasonable way of approaching the problem, no drastic or impossible to achieve solutions. Hopefully some more of this over here will follow.

Gotta love a bike made of metal

posted by RobD [149 posts]
14th April 2014 - 9:26


They should introduce it in Boston, Links., too as it is the fattest place in the UK...

posted by Kim [132 posts]
14th April 2014 - 12:48