As I continued to work through situations beyond my control and gratified myself with a variety of carbs this season, I pondered ways to be more active. Going for a hike, trek, or long walk has been my go-to exercise, but I wondered, “What can I do in-between?” Learning new things helps keep the mind positive, and relearning an old skill can be like riding a bike. Well, I set out to do just that. Whenever I passed by a bike share, I felt tempted to go for a ride, but I wasn’t familiar with using a bike share and hadn’t ridden a bike in a while. So my mission was two-fold: 1) learn how to use a bike share and 2) relearn how to ride a bike.
Note: This post shares information on a bike share in Bay Area, California. For bike share information specific to your state and region, search online.
|Table of Contents|
1. What is a Bike Share?
2. What are Benefits to Riding a Bike and Using a Bike Share?
3. What Is Needed to Ride a Bike and Use a Bike Share?
4. What Was Riding a Bike Again and Using a Bike Share Like?
5. Closing Words
A bike share is a program that allows people to rent bikes for a limited time and connect with other modes of public transportation,1 such as buses, cable cars, ferries, and trains.
Benefits to Riding a Bike
- Multi-Purpose: Bikes can be ridden for exercise, leisure, and transportation.
- Healthy: Bicycling is an aerobic activity that strengthens the heart and lungs and improves physical fitness.2
- Environmentally-Friendly: Riding a bike instead of driving a car reduces greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, which contribute to global warming and climate change.3,4
- More Freedom and Space: Bicyclists don’t have to wait for a bus or car ride or for traffic to clear — they can take alternate routes. They don’t have to stand or sit next to anyone and can stay more than six feet apart.
- It’s fun!
Benefits to Using a Bike Share
- Accessible: People can borrow a bike for a fee. A shared bike can be a life saver when you don’t have a bike, have a bike locally, or have a bike anymore (your bike was lost or stolen).
- Get from Points A to B: Bike shares are perfect for local short trips, such as connections with other public transportation modes, commutes to and from work, errands, and day tours.
- Bikes Types: Traditional and electric bikes are available.
- Affordable: Users save money when they return bikes in good condition and park or lock them correctly by the time limit. Those who sign up for a membership get waived unlock fees, reduced rates, and longer rides, and those who qualify for a low-income program are eligible for a discounted plan.
- Ride and Payment Options: Users may pay for a single ride, day pass, or membership (monthly or annual) through the bike share app installed on their smartphone. They may also pay for a day pass at a docking station kiosk or a membership online. Members with a discounted plan may also pay with a prepaid card or cash.
- Perks: In addition to waived unlock fees, reduced rates, and longer rides, members can link their account to their public transportation card and use the card instead of their phone to unlock bikes. Members can also help move bikes from crowded docking stations to less crowded or empty ones to earn points and rewards.
- Donations: The bike share supported reforestation efforts.
What Is Needed to Ride a Bike
- Physical Ability: Riders should be able to ride a bike without posing significant risk to their health.
- Knowledge of Bike Laws: Riders should know bike laws5 in their area.
- Safe Bikes and Riding Locations: Riders should make sure that bikes fit and breaks work. They should use bike lanes whenever possible5 and choose the most bike-friendly routes. New riders should learn in an empty court or parking lot if available.
- Protective Gear, Clothing, and Footwear: Riders should wear a helmet that fits their head5 in case of a collision or fall. They may also want to wear clothes that cover their arms and legs and shoes that cover their feet and toes.
- Visibility: Riders should make sure that others can see them. They should wear clothes that are bright as well as nonrestrictive and use a light and reflectors if riding at night.5
What Is Needed to Use a Bike Share
- Required Age: Users must be at least 18 years old.
- Agreement to Terms and Conditions: Users must agree to the rental agreement and liability waiver, which are in the bike share app and online. They must be able to ride a bike safely and legally and acknowledge the risks and accept responsibility.
- A Payment Method: Users must pay, using their credit or debit card through the bike share app on their phone, at a docking station kiosk, or online. Members with a discounted plan may also pay with a prepaid card or cash.
- Good Sanitation: Although high-contact surfaces may be disinfected, users should avoid touching their eyes, nose, mouth, and ears during any public transportation rides, and wash their hands well after rides.
Riding a Bike Again
Since this was my first time riding a bike in a while, I made sure to ride during the day and after rush hour. I found a bike near a road “closed to through traffic” and walked it over. I ate it. Once. (Okay — no face plant but nearly sprained my ankle.) Wearing a helmet, padded clothes, tennis shoes, and a face mask protected me and saved me embarrassment because no one could recognize me. I just brushed myself off and got back on. It didn’t take long to balance, ride straight, and gain enough speed to coast and feel the wind on my face. It felt good to show myself that I can still do it.
Using a Bike Share
Since this was my first time using a bike share, I excitedly unlocked an electric bike using a rideshare app on my phone and took it for a single ride. By the time I returned and locked it correctly, I had acquired an unlock fee, a per-minute rate, an extra per-minute rate for going over the time limit, and a tax. There was no parking fee because I parked the bike back at one of the docking stations. The electric bike was easy to pedal and smooth to ride, making my ride a breeze. I can see how one could really benefit with more research, planning, and trial and error.
Riding a bike is fun and good for you and the environment, and using a bike share can be a cost-efficient way to get around. Read up, strategize, and remember that practice makes progress!
How have you been keeping active? Have you tried anything new? Is there an old skill you’ve been eager to relearn like riding a bike? Whatever it is, be safe!
Scout is not affiliated with or endorsed by these organizations, nor do they approve of this blog or its content.
- Bay Area Air Quality Management District. (5/20/2015). Bay Area Bike Share. https://www.baaqmd.gov/funding-and-incentives/businesses-and-fleets/regional-bicycle-share-pilot-project.
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd Edition. (2018). https://health.gov/our-work/nutrition-physical-activity/physical-activity-guidelines/current-guidelines.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency. Earth Day: Bike to Work. https://www.epa.gov/earthday/bike-to-work.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency. Green Vehicle Guide: Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle. https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/greenhouse-gas-emissions-typical-passenger-vehicle.
- U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Administration. Seven Smart Routes to Bicycle Safety. September 2012. https://www.usf.edu/student-affairs/wellbeing/documents/bikesafetyforadults.pdf.