New cycling app Biko offers Vancouverites food, beer, and charitable incentives to commute by bike

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      Vancouver boasts some of the highest numbers of commutes by bike in North America, so the city’s cyclists may as well be rewarded for it.

      That was the thinking behind Biko, anyway, when the Colombia-based app’s bosses chose Vancouver as the site of its first English-speaking, North American launch.

      “There are so many Vancouverites riding around the city by bike already,” Molly Millar, Biko’s Vancouver manager, tells the Straight by phone. “And Biko may also help the city achieve its goal of being the world’s greenest city by 2020.”

      The free mobile app allows cyclists to record their bike rides by tracking the kilometres traveled, calories burned, and grams of carbon-dioxide emissions saved in each commute. The program does this by detecting movement to ensure that users are getting physically active.

      Users receive one “biko” for every kilometre they log. These bikos can then be redeemed for various local discounts and rewards, including gift cards to Big Rock Urban Brewery, convertible pannier backpacks by Vancouver label Two Wheel Gear, fast-track access to the Vancouver Art Gallery on Tuesdays, and free bicycle repairs at the Bike Doctor on West Broadway. 

      As part of its official launch in Vancouver, Biko has partnered with Pacific Blue Cross to conduct a charity competition among the city’s cyclists. From now until October 16, Biko users may gift their bikos in increments of 10 to the following local charities: Imagine 1 Day, HUB, Paws for Hope, Beauty Night, Children’s Wish Foundation, Zajac Ranch for Children, and United Way.

      The more bikos a charity collects, the greater its share of a $25,000 donation from Pacific Blue Cross. Millar notes that similar initiatives in Biko’s home city of Bogotá, as well as Medellín and Mexico City, inspired many of the app’s users to put their cycling points toward nonprofit organizations.

      “We’ve found in previous markets and launches that about a third of all redemptions do go to charity, which is pretty incredible,” she says. “I hope we see that trend in Vancouver.”

      Following a soft launch in August, Biko has attracted over 3,000 users in Vancouver. Millar is hoping to partner with other local businesses so that Biko users may access an even greater range of rewards, swag, and discounts.

      For more information about Biko, or to download the app, click here.