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Colombian start-up aims to make cycling pay by offering rewards and discounts for miles put in

Starbucks and Burger King among companies offering money off for keen cyclists

A Colombian start-up is to make it pay to get on your bike by offering discounts and deals as a reward for cycling journeys.

Bogota-based Biko has been seeking international investment for its app, which allows riders to share their routes, show hazards to be avoided and safe bike parking spots, and promote bike culture by tapping into deals from local businesses.

Using a smartphone’s GPS location services, the distances traveled are converted into Biko currency which is accepted by businesses including Starbucks, Burger King and Taco Bell, according to co-founder Emilio Pombo.

Upcoming rewards will include theatre tickets and big-name concerts.

"People are beginning to understand that mobility is chaos in many big cities," Pombo told Yahoo.

"They are looking desperately for new solutions."

Biko also intends to make its data available to city planners, and allow local bike-oriented businesses to display targeted advertising.

"By promoting biking we are not just improving people's quality of life and friendlier cities, we also look to encourage healthier habits as well as protecting the environment," said Biko chief executive Enrique Cuellar, who is seeking $1.5 million to fund the app’s expansion outside Colombia.

Whether or not the app will work is another question. Back in 2011 we reported on a startup - PleaseCycle - with what they called a BikeMiles app so that workers for Reckitt Benckiser could raise money for the Save the Children charity by cycling to work.

According to Entrepreneurial cyclist Ry Morgan, "In the first three weeks, Reckitt Benckiser have donated hundreds of pounds, the staff have ridden the equivalent of three lengths of Britain and saved "four London-Paris flights-worth of carbon."

Other clients are opting for more financially based incentives or additional holiday time with leaderboards and friendly competition between colleagues but whatever customised system the employer opts for, it permits the company to reward staff for every mile cycled while offering an extra opportunity to tie in with local services, like "Two-for-one deals at a local restaurant in the case of the Quorum Business Park, near Newcastle in the North-East," says Morgan.

According to Ry Morgan, "The mission [was] to build a global currency around cycling and empower organisations to inspire 1,000,000,000 cycle journeys by 2020.

Please Cycle has now ben renamed Yomp, and is used by a number of global companies to ‘gamify’ cycling and allow staff to compete against their co-workers.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

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