Meet your city on two wheels
Bike Buddies is a community of people sharing confidence and local knowledge on two wheels. We help more people enjoy the benefits of cycling in their city, by matching experienced city cyclists with those less confident or new to the city who are making similar journies.
The concept of bike buddying itself is not new, but the way in which the Bike Buddies platform leverages algorithms, telemetry data and other databases for route matching and planning, has the potential for the concept to scale with significant impact. These technologies are already being widely used for services like Deliveroo, Uberpool and other liftsharing services.
Bike Buddies also acts as a sign posting tool, by directing users - both experienced and new cyclists - to other support services in their area, such as free cycle training and partner local bike shops.
The onboarding process would also act as a safety checklist, with ‘How to’ videos with advice on being a Bike Buddy, basic personal and bicycle safety, with follow up quizes to check all users have a shared level of understanding of the risks involved.
Bike Buddies could be funded by a combination of national government and local authorities with cycling brands as sponsors, who could also offer incentives for participation by way of discounts, and specifically rewarding those who go onto buddy up multiple times, for example with free bike lights, a helmet, or even a new bike or cycle holiday. Workplaces, universities and schools with a vested interest in the benefits of their people cycling more often, can join Bike Buddies as organisations offering their own incentives through the platform.
Importantly, as more people buddy up and continue to cycle regularly for commuting, utility or more casual purposes, Bike Buddies tracks the increasing number of journeys; this is in contrast to exisiting platforms such as Strava which tend to build on the exisiting sports user base with different habits, behaviours and motivations. This metric would provide data showing real demand for further infrastructure investment both at workplaces, universities and schools, as well as at a policy level, helping to make the case for more cycle and people friendly urban planning, which could in turn unlock the next wave of bicycle adopters.
The London ContextThe initial context for Bike Buddies was the Mayor of London's Transport Strategy, published in March 2018, that has the vision to reduce car journeys by 3 million every day by 2041. The London Cycle Campaign estimates that in order to achieve this, we will need to increase journeys made by bicycle from the current 3% to 15%.
With this in mind, Bike Buddies extends the impact of infrastructure and behaviour change investments. For example, the Mayor of London’s new network of Cycle Quietways will cost an estimated £118.6 million* to complete and TfL currently offers cycle training free of charge to all Londoners, but my research has found that both these important initiatives are little known amongst those new to cycling. Bike Buddies harnesses and grows the existing London cycling community to help virally communicate this new infrastructure and support.
The Wider VisionIn order to capitalise on cycling infrastructure investments, Bike Buddies could be used as a behaviour change tool in any urban setting where there is sufficient density of routes among both potential and existing cyclists willing to buddy up.
As our global population becomes increasingly concentrated in cities, the case for cycling as an efficient, low-cost, healthy, zero-emission and socially cohesive mode of transport has become obvious. For cities that share and invest in this vision of active urban mobility, Bike Buddies has the potential to help mobilise people, save money, reduce pollution and congestion, and improve both physical and mental health.