From this week, patients struggling with obesity in the Boston area will be helped to improve their lifestyle with prescriptions for a subsidized membership to the city’s Hubway bike sharing system.
The scheme usually costs $85 per year, but patients who are over 16, obese, and have a total household income of no more than four times the poverty level will be entitled to a year’s subscription for just $5, and a free helmet for added safety.
The Hubway bike sharing scheme was introduced to the city in 2011 following successful implementations around the world in cities including Denver, Washington, Paris and London.
According to the chief executive of the Boston Medical Center, Kate Walsh, one in four low-income Boston residents is obese, and exercise rather than medication is the best recommended treatment.
The local government hopes that this will more than double membership to Hubway, which currently stands at 900. With only 1,100 bikes in 130 locations around Boston, if they’re successful in their aims, they may need to expand the scheme.
If they need extra locations, Outside Magazine notes that only 14% of the Hubway bike-share stations are currently locate in low-income neighbourhoods of Boston, so that would seem a sensible place to start, given the requirements of the subsidized memberships.
What do you think? Is this a good way to fight obesity? Would you like to see it rolled out to your hometown? Let us know in the comments.