Doc Says Pedal: Boston Launches ‘Prescribe-A-Bike’ Hubway Program

Boston Medical Center physicians can now refer low-income patients for a $5 membership to Hubway, the area’s bike share system, under a new initiative announced by the city Wednesday.

The “Prescribe-a-Bike” program seeks to address health disparities and increase residents’ access to affordable transportation options, the mayor’s office said in a release.

(gobanshee1/Flickr via Compflight)

(gobanshee1/Flickr via Compflight)

“Obesity is a significant and growing health concern for our city, particularly among low-income Boston residents,” BMC President and CEO Kate Walsh said in a statement. “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.”

“Prescribe-a-Bike” expands on the city’s existing subsidized Hubway memberships. Under the new program, a BMC doctor can write prescriptions for annual Hubway memberships, which cost patients $5. A typical annual membership is $85, per Hubway.

Subsidized members also receive a free helmet, the mayor’s office’s release said.

“There is no other program like this in the country,” Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement.

The city aims to enroll 1,000 low-income residents in “Prescribe-a-Bike.” The release did not indicate funding sources for the expanded subsidies.

Only Boston residents, age 16 or older, receiving public assistance or with a household income of no more than 400 percent of poverty level, are eligible for “Prescribe-a-Bike.”

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  • Marc Baizman

    And it’s also an excellent opportunity to provide driver education too. Most drivers don’t know how to deal with cyclists properly (agreed that there needs to be education on following the rules) but it’s not cyclists alone who are responsible, it’s both parties. And the reality is that drivers are the vast majority of people on the road, and have the potential to cause injury or death to cyclists.

  • http://CAR-FREE.ORG Steve Schmitt

    This is an excellent opportunity to provide bicycle education. Our bicycle behavior surveys show most cyclists have no idea how to ride effectively. Most do not stop at red lights, many frequently use the sidewalks/crosswalks endangering pedestrians and without education, around half go the wrong direction on the road. To help with these cycling errors and to ensure optimal cost effectiveness to this program, bicycle education should be a part of this effort

  • Guest

    http://familiesusa.org/product/federal-poverty-guidelines

    You can see on these charts what 400% of the poverty level is.

  • Dustin Salzedo

    I’m a Hubway fan. However, if I recall correctly, Hubway didn’t and still does not have many access stations in the most impoverished neighborhoods – Roxbury and Dot come to mind. Could someone clarify this and explain how even “prescribed” members would be able to actually access bikes?

    • MichelleC

      There are actually several new locations in Upham’s Corner and several around Dudley Sq. That being said, there do need to be more, especially as you travel further south into Dorchester, but I still think this is a great initiative.

  • Guest

    is the “400 percent of poverty level” income level a typo?