Growing up in Akron, Ohio, LeBron James relied on a bike to get to basketball practice and school and visit friends. Today, recognizing that access to a bike helped change his life, his company, Uninterrupted, is partnering with Lyft to give thousands of teenagers free one-year memberships to bikeshare who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it—and who, like 4.5 million Americans, don’t have enough access to affordable, reliable transportation.
“A bike opened doors, allowed me to get to safe places after school, and gave me access to opportunities I never would have known,” James wrote in a blog post today. (This isn’t the first time he’s helped give access to bikes—when he opened a new public elementary school for at-risk kids in Akron in 2018, all 240 new students got a free bike along with a promise of a free college education.) The companies made the announcement at a YMCA in Harlem, where the first 50 teenagers were given memberships to New York’s Citi Bike program, which is owned by Lyft. The Y will help identify more eligible riders—all ages 16 to 20 and in need of affordable transportation—in New York City, followed by other cities where Lyft operates bikeshare systems, like Chicago and the Bay Area. Riders will also get training in bike safety.
People living in cities where Lyft has bikeshare programs are already also eligible for reduced-fare memberships. The project will be part of LyftUp, a new initiative that brings together other programs designed to help close transportation gaps—other programs, for example, helps give free Lyft rides to job interviews and to the polls on Election Day. Anyone using the Lyft app can now round up their fare to donate to the YMCA for the new program.