As I noted in a recent post, there are a number of health benefits associated with riding a bike, road bikes in the case of me and my wife. For us, in our low-density, small (pop. 45,000) community, riding bikes is a way to include aerobic activity in our workout regimen.
For others, in larger, more densely packed cities, riding bikes can offer other benefits such as an additional form of transportation, reduced transportation costs, a reduction in vehicular traffic, a reduction in pollution, and in the case of Indego in Philadelphia, launched in 2015, a way to help build more inclusive communities through bike-sharing.
As noted on Wikipedia, a bike share system is a service in which bicycles are made available for shared use to individuals on a very short-term basis. Bike share schemes allow people to borrow a bike from point “A” and return it at point “B.” Many bike-share systems offer subscriptions that make the first 30–45 minutes of use either free or very inexpensive, encouraging use as transportation. This allows each bike to serve several users per day. In most bike-share cities, casual riding over several hours or days is better served by bicycle rental than by bike-share. For many systems, smartphone mapping apps show nearby stations with available bikes and open docks.
As discussed in a recent episode of one of my favorite podcasts, Placemakers, Indego has made a mission of making bike share attractive to low-income and minority residents. The city has moved bike stations into non-white neighborhoods. It’s used ambassadors. It’s hired a multiracial team to run the bike-share program. And it’s tried and abandoned other ideas, in an attempt to break the social stigma of riding a bike in poor neighborhoods.