Let’s Go Ride a Bike

By practice greenhealth staff on January 19, 2017


University Hospitals Health System (UH), based in northeastern Ohio, has a long history of working with its local community to address social determinants of health, including physical activity. So, when an opportunity arose to support a proposed bike share program, it grabbed those handlebars and rode with it.

Bike sharing is an active way to move around and between different parts of a city, giving the public access to bikes for a fee. Cleveland’s UHBikes, sponsored by UH, was created through the hard work and partnership of various community and nonprofit organizations: A local bike advocacy organization, Bike Cleveland; the Cleveland Foundation; the City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office of Sustainability; the Cuyahoga County Department of Sustainability; the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency; and UH were all major players in bringing the current system to fruition, from a nascent bike feasibility study in 2013 to a 250-bike system in 2016, with plans to see it expand and connect additional areas in Cleveland.

UHBikes prelaunched in time for the Republican National Convention on July 15, 2016, with 100 temporary green-colored bikes branded with the UH logo. At press time, around 6,300 trips have been taken on the program’s bikes, totaling over 12,000 miles, 486,000 calories burned and 10,700 pounds of reduced carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

“Biking is healthy, active and highly social—in short, a great way to help create more livable and connected communities, both for residents and visitors,” said Sarah O’Keeffe, UH sustainability manager. “UHBikes directly aligns with this concept as well as our organization’s health mission, and University Hospitals is proud to have these bikes out in the community.”

In fact, the now bright-red bikes tooling around Cleveland’s urban area are just the latest in a series of transportation initiatives by the health system to leverage connectivity at its most urban campus, UH Cleveland Medical Center. These initiatives include supporting a community shuttle, co-sponsoring a bus rapid transit system called the “Healthline,” providing electric vehicle charging stations and subsidizing public transit for employees.