Smart city

TCDisrupt: bringing a personalized and safer route to "Smart Cyclists"

  • 22 Sep
  • 2 min

At TechCrunch Disrupt SF, we met two start-ups that offer solutions to facilitate and improve the cycling directions. An interesting positioning at a time when bike-sharing schemes are spreading.

"There are 60 million China users per day on sharing bikes [developed by] Ofo and Mobike." Anna Fang, CEO and partner at venture capital fund ZhenFund explained during a TechCrunch Disrupt session. She gave an overview of the potential of the bicycle mobility market in the world. As startups such as Ofo and Mobike in Shanghai, Ford GoBike in San Francisco, and other Velib 'or Smoovengo in Paris multiply, the number of cyclists increases and so do business opportunities.

The need for clear navigation is an example. Existing solutions has several downsides, which the Brazilian startup Woole and London-based BeeLine, have sought to address. The first one proposes personalized routes to real bike-lovers, going a step further than what GoogleMaps' functionalities currently offer. It indicates to its user the safest route to ride: the one that includes the most bike lanes, the path with the least difference in terms of road elevation for the less athletic, and the fastest route for those in a hurry. The app is collaborative, just like Waze, and is already available in the Bay area.  

Those are very practical pieces of information for cyclists, but they are not easy to access while riding a bike on a crowded road. BeeLine startup focuses on this precise obstacle. It offers a kind of GPS that can be attached to the bike handlebar so that it will not distract the cyclist. Indeed, in order to limit the rider's vision obstruction, this GPS actually looks like a compass. The user enters his/er destination (and potential stops) via a dedicated application and the device thus indicates the route to follow and the distance s/he will travel.

These two start-ups have in common to ensure the safety of the cyclist and to promote a greener means of transportation. A sustainable one too, both for the users and the Smart City!

By Sophia Qadiri, journalist and analyst