• FreeBike

Good Health (10X) Pays For Itself

Ok, today we're talking about how every dollar spent giving people free bikes turns into over $10 of health-related benefits. There are plenty of things that we as a community need to invest in, but there aren't many that give us $10 for every $1 we invest. (We won't even talk about other benefits of riding a bike, such as how much fun it is, or how bikes let us be more human with each other, or how people on bikes do more to boost the local economy, or... but we digress!)

Colorado recently ran a pilot where they gave free ebikes to a dozen people. In this lovely story about the results of the pilot, one of the bike riders mentions that over the course of the year riding her ebike, she lost over 70 pounds. Colorado's focus with the pilot was on helping essential workers get to work in a low-carbon way, and they are now following up with a program of 100 bikes. In other words... the bike rider losing 70 pounds was just a side-effect, not the goal. (The bike rider in the article also gushes about how fun riding her bike was... but again, we digress!)

What is it worth to the community that the rider above lost 70 pounds by riding her free ebike? The Mayo Clinic concluded in 2012 that annual healthcare costs at that time were around $2,000 higher per year for overweight people versus people that they defined to be of healthy weight. That $2,000 shoots past $5,000 per year for people they classified as obese. The Mayo Clinic also estimated that there are an additional $1,000 to $2,000 in additional health-related productivity & absenteeism costs per overweight person. Add that all up, and you are somewhere in the range of $3,000 to $7,000 in health-related savings per person, per year, if you can help people maintain a healthy weight. Add in nearly a decade of health care cost inflation, and you're up to around $4,000 to $10,000 per person, per year.

So, it looks like that ebike rider losing 70 pounds was not just some little side effect! In fact, if you step back, you learn that the US healthcare system spends over $200 billion every year trying to treat the symptoms of obesity. Say that out loud: $200 billion, every year. There are any number of things one might prefer to do with that $200 billion, year after year.

The ebikes that FreeBike procures are all designed to last for years, and most are in the $1,000 price range. Every ebike that helps someone get to a healthy weight will generate well over $10 of health-related benefits for every dollar invested. (And, like we said, we won't even talk here about how bikes help people get and keep jobs, or the fun of riding, oh, you get the point!)

So, take a deep breath. Think for a moment about the previously unimaginable shocks that we have recently endured as a society. And ask yourself: Are we free enough to not simply go back to repeating the mistakes of the past? Are we free enough to do something new, something that multiplies our health, wealth, and well-being? If you believe the answer is yes, then get in touch. FreeBike is here to be your partner in helping to create that healthier future.

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