The popularity of bike-sharing has grown drastically in recent years. Statistics reveal that there are ongoing programs in more than 50 countries around the world, with over 600,000 bikes being ridden on a daily basis.
That’s a lot of calories burned!
This sure seems like a great way to fight the ongoing obesity epidemic most developed countries face. At first. For instance, Boston, Massachusetts, made it to the news with a curious innovation: doctors at a local medical centre now prescribe five-dollar access to the city’s bike-share program.
Regular physical exercise is a necessity for good health. Danish scientists have discovered that schoolchildren who rode a bike or walked to school performed far better than students who arrived by other means of transportation.
A recent study on the bike-share scheme of London noted that mostly men and older citizens benefited from the program. The main benefit among men is a significant reduction in heart disease. Women on the other hand experiences a great deal of reduction in depression.
All this is more than great. However, it turns out there are risks to bicycle-sharing.
For starters, no bicycle rider is insured against a traffic incident. Getting hit by a speeding bus is not healthy at all (according to common sense). Pollution is another factor to be taken into consideration. A recent study conducted in Ottawa, Ontario, used heart monitors to detect if cyclists experienced any problems while riding on the busiest of roads and inhaling pollutants. The study suggests that even a short-term exposure to the volatile traffic fumes may result in serious cardiac complications.
Melbourne and Brisbane also operate bike-share programs. According to Peter Migley who wrote The Bike Share Report, both schemes are underused in comparison to programs of other countries.
Among the reasons for the low use rate are the low density and number of bicycles and docking stations. The hours of availability for the bikes are also quite well and infrastructure is quite uncomfortable for many people to engage in regular biking activities.
But probably the main reason for the bike-share programs’ failure is the rule of wearing a helmet. That’s right, apparently obesity is the far better alternative – wearing a ridiculous piece of plastic is just out of the question. When the helmet rule was first introduced, the levels of cycling dropped by more than 30 per cent. The same falls have been noticed wherever the helmet law is present. In fact, no region with such active law has ever seen even a slight increase in cycling.