Photo courtesy BikePGH

If you’ve been out and about around the city these past few weeks, you’ve probably seen these stations popping up all over town.

No, those aren’t confetti cannons — they’re Healthy Ride stations!

Healthy Ride is Pittsburgh’s new bike sharing program. With 50 stations and over 500 bikes available for short-term rental throughout the city, Pittsburgh has become one of many cities embracing this new active model of public transportation. We couldn’t be more excited about it, because we think Healthy Ride will be great for the city and its people in many different ways.

It’s Healthy! (For the Body)

Biking on a regular basis can do wonders for your physical well-being. (Just ask our CEO, who does a fair bit of cycling during her triathlon training!)

But you don’t have to be a serious athlete to reap the benefits of biking. Even casual cycling can lead to:

  • Better cardiovascular health
  • Greater muscle strength and agility
  • Improved posture and body-eye coordination
  • Decreased body fat

In some cases, cycling can even help fight off and manage chronic diseases, most notably Parkinson’s disease.

It’s Healthy! (For the Mind)

Your brain can benefit from biking as well. With every pedal stroke, you’re creating new capillary beds not just in your leg muscles, but also in your brain. These new capillary beds help your body absorb more oxygen and nutrients.

Pedalling also generates activity in your nerve cells. When neurons are activated, they create proteins like brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and other compounds that support brain cell growth. Exercise also releases neurotransmitters, which allows all of those new and old brain cells to strengthen their lines of communication.

It Embodies the “New” Pittsburgh

The city has come a long way since its infamous days of low-hanging smog and steel work. Our workforce is bubbling with educated people who are pragmatic, active, and forward-thinking. We see this in the form of shared workspaces, a growing industry of active lifestyle programs supported by our three rivers, thriving startup communities, and a focus on environmentally sustainable practices.

A bike sharing program is a perfect cultural fit for the new Pittsburgh. It’s an innovative way to address the city’s transportation challenges, it’s environmentally friendly, and best of all, it’s practical. As the Steel City moves away from its industrial roots and further into a culture of innovation and sustainability, bike sharing can easily go along for the ride.

It’s Convenient

Just like small businesses in the area have turned to shared workspaces to suit their real estate needs, bike sharing allows us to enjoy the benefits of biking with minimal commitment.

Users can rent Healthy Ride bikes as little or as often as they please, and it’s affordable for people anywhere on that spectrum. A 30-minute rental costs only $2, and a month of unlimited hour-long rides only costs $20. This way, riders can use the service however they see fit. Whether it’s filling in gaps between bus stops, going for occasional recreational rides, or running errands, the service is designed to be whatever its users want it to be. With 50 stations scattered across the city, it’s hard to find an excuse not to use it!

They Support the Community

As bike sharing programs have gained popularity in cities worldwide, it’s come to light how beneficial urban cycling is to communities. When biking is geographically convenient to commercial areas, people are more inclined to shop there. A University of Minnesota study found that users of the Twin Cities’ new bike share system spent an extra $150,000 per year at businesses near bike stations.

And according to the Project for Public Spaces, bike stations can also function as “triangulators,” or hubs of social activity. The group’s research has found that bike share stations are natural conversation starters that attract a diverse set of users at all hours, and serve as “landmarks that concentrate activity.”

As ardent supporters of active lifestyles, we couldn’t be more thrilled that the city has invested space and resources in a sizable bike sharing program. We can’t wait to see more Healthy Ride bikes on city streets and trails. (Just remember to adjust your seat before pedalling off!)