Whether you are looking to lessen your carbon footprint, drop a few pounds, or avoid rush hour traffic, riding a bicycle is a great way to spice up your daily commute.  For those who don’t own a bicycle, bike sharing programs are popping up across the United States, allowing commuters to rent and return bicycles to numerous hubs located throughout their city.  From Long Beach, California to Long Beach, New York, the number of shared bicycles is expected to quadruple over the next few years as cities implement bike-sharing programs to benefit residents and visitors alike (Brown, 2013).   

How Does It Work?

Bike sharing is currently the fastest growing mode of transport in the world, helping cities to alleviate congestion, reduce pollution, improve the health of their residents and support the growth of local businesses.  Using a credit card online or at a designated kiosk, a person can purchase a short-term or annual membership that allows them to pick up and return a bicycle from a network of self-service docking stations.  Docking stations are easy to locate, and one-size-fits-all bicycles are easy to ride, offering a great alternative to taking the bus, subway, or car (Brown, 2013).   

How Could It Benefit You?

Traffic jams and the hassle of securing front row parking become irrelevant when riding a bicycle.  Regardless of whether you are riding for pleasure or a specific purpose, riding a bicycle is a proven stress reliever, bringing you to your destination feeling better about the world and yourself.  When you consider the costs of owning and operating a vehicle, participating in a bike-sharing program will help you to save money on the everyday expense of

Aside from the financial perks, riding a bicycle can provide big benefits to your health.  For those looking to improve their cardiovascular health, riding a bike is a low impact exercise that can be done with little to no stress on the joints in your knees, hips and ankles.  Cycling improves muscular strength and endurance, and can also improve your balance and coordination, as your entire body works to peddle forward and steer the bicycle along your journey.

How Can You Get Started?

A quick internet search will help you discover whether a bike sharing program in your area exists.  If you cannot find one, do not despair.  The number of cities implementing bike-sharing programs will continue to grow, and yours may very well be next.  If you can participate, there are a number of smartphone apps and websites to help you map out your bicycle route.  Websites like Google Maps and Map My Ride allow you to enter your starting and ending destination, and will show you the easiest and safest route available in your area.  Make sure you are familiar with the traffic laws and available bike lanes, and practice using hand signals when navigating through busy streets.  

 


 

Sarah Dalton is the founder of Able Mind Able Body, a Las Vegas based company offering motivational lifestyle coaching and personal training services.  She takes a holistic approach to healthy living, and educates others on the benefits of nutrition, exercise, and emotional health.  Visit www.ablemindablebody.com for more info.