Health & Science

Houston patients can now receive rental bicycle prescriptions in new program

The program is for patients with prediabetes, diabetes, prehypertension or hypertension.

Lucio Vasquez/Houston Public Media

Doctors at a local clinic can write more than just prescription medication: The Bike RX program allows healthcare providers to write prescriptions for a one year membership with Houston BCycle. The program is for patients with prediabetes, diabetes, prehypertension or hypertension.

The program, which started in February, is a collaboration with Houston Bcycle, the American Heart Association, and Legacy Community Health in Fifth Ward. It's the first of its kind in Houston. The goal is to give patients the chance to exercise and develop healthy habits.

Patients have the option to choose from two different bikes — standard or electric for 90 minutes at any BCycle location across the city.

Sable McEleveen is the Manager of Programs at Legacy Community Health. She says the initiative will benefit patients in many ways.

“It’s a really wonderful program that offers the chance for our patients to experience the outdoors, but also get a chance to reclaim their health," she said.

Bike RX began developing prior to the pandemic, but once the pandemic hit it slowed the process down. McEleveen said even though everyone was dealing with the pandemic, it didn't stop the vision for the program.

"Even in the midst of the pandemic, our previous director continued to talk with the American Heart Association. They saw another program that was happening in another state and some of the great things that were happening in that community."

Mary DeBauche is the Communications Manager at Houston BCycle. She said they wanted to help underserved communities in Houston after installing a bicycle station in front of the Fifth Ward clinic.

“The three organizations just got together to see how we could produce this really innovative and health forward program to help out people in Fifth Ward.

Houston BCycle has been around for 10 years. They have more than 150 bike stations across central Houston that allow residents to rent bikes. The non-profit also has annual and monthly memberships.

DeBauche said the program allows Houston BCycle to fulfill its unofficial motto of "butts on bikes".

"We’re always looking for programs that will help people get on to a bike. Not only is it a really great way to get around the city, it's an inexpensive way to get from point A to point B. There are so many health benefits to cycling," she said.

Emily Paul is the Community Impact Director with the American Heart Association, she said cycling has many health benefits.

"Cycling is a low impact form of cardiovascular physical activity and all adults need cardio physical activity for brain and heart health."

Paul said the partnership with Houston Bcycle was very natural after communicating with them because they provide active transportation.

The American Heart Association learned about Houston BCycles's Go Pass Program that offers low income community members with reduced fares.

"The American Heart Association is interested in health equity and that was to us a really important program and so connecting that with the clinics made sense to us, she said."

The program is only offered to patients at the Legacy Community Health Clinic in Fifth Ward on Lyons, but the program is hoping to expand to other sites.

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