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Portland businesses reward riders through new ‘Biko’ smartphone app

Posted by on May 19th, 2017 at 2:44 pm

On Monday, Portlanders will be able to use a new mobile app that will make cycling even sweeter. Biko launched two years ago in Bogota, Colombia and has since spread to Medellin, Vancouver (Canada) and Mexico City. On Monday it will launch in the United States and Portland is one of the first five cities to get it (Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles are the others).

The basic idea is pretty simple: The app tracks your trips and gives you a “Biko” for every mile kilometer you ride. You can then redeem these Bikos at any number of local shops for discounts and deals. Just whip out your phone, show your screen to the cashier, and get your reward. The app already has 167,000 users worldwide.

So far the company behind the app has lined up eight partner businesses in Portland where you can use Biko currency.

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Here’s the list:

Nossa Familia
Velo Cult Bike Shop
Potato Champion
River City Bicycles
Pyro Pizza
Guardian Games
Best Friend (coffee + juice cart)
Nutcase Helmets

The app is available for both iPhone and Android.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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  • Justin M May 19, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    How many apps are we supposed to use! Didn’t we all just install Ride Report for the bike more challenge? I’m using that and cyclemeter when I ride. I’m not using a third thing, even though this looks cool and I like discounts.

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    • John Lascurettes May 22, 2017 at 9:43 am

      Justin, hehe. My answer to you is three apps. 🙂

      I use Cyclemeter as well, which I have feed into a linked Strava account, which in turn feeds into Ride Report for the Bike Challenge. So, I really only ever open the Cyclemeter app.

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      • Justin M May 22, 2017 at 12:05 pm

        I didn’t know you can do that! Great tip 🙂

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. May 19, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Yet another app for users to voluntarily upload their personal data to for corporations to profit off of. Who are they selling the trip data to?

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    • J_R May 19, 2017 at 6:36 pm

      Probably the IRS, NSA, DHS, the Tri-Lateral Commission, and Alco, the maker of the raw materials for tinfoil hats.

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    • TAJ May 19, 2017 at 9:33 pm

      Emphasis on voluntary. Don’t like it? Don’t do it.

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    • Peter W May 20, 2017 at 3:37 pm

      Good question.

      To some extent that’s covered in their privacy policy:

      tl;dr: Yes, you’re buying a free app at the cost of privacy and data. Same business model as Facebook, though at least they want you sitting on a bike seat rather than in front of a computer.

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      • 9watts May 21, 2017 at 12:21 pm

        “Same business model as Facebook”

        not sure if you intended that comparison to suggest humdrum harmlessness, but –

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        • Peter W May 23, 2017 at 12:11 am

          No, I didn’t not mean to suggest harmlessness, but rather widespread use of that business model. There was a great piece (I came across previously but can’t find it right now) written back in the very early days of the web warning against allowing the advertising industry to take over one more medium but obviously … you know how that turned out.

          Thanks for sharing that link about Cambridge Analytica; I’ve read about them previously but it’s unfortunate how little concern there is for what’s happening there and good to see others are sharing it.

          In some ways the threat is basically Fox on steroids – the ability to make propaganda specifically tailored to people:

          In the Obama campaigns the Dems had a decent tech advantage and used interesting techniques to maximize the reach of their TV ad spending by finding their key target audiences in niche media markets. Then Trump comes along and just dumps millions on Facebook for secret ads using the same micro-targeting features the company built with corporate advertisers in mind (so much for the Dem’s tech lead).

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  • Ryan May 19, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Overall I think this is a great concept, though I want to try it out to see how it is in execution. I think the best way to grow cycling significantly (at least initially) is to incentivize cycling with things like this. Eventually they’ll have to do things to disincentivize driving, but I think it will get more fence-sitters to offer extra benefits like this (besides the obvious health, economical, etc.). Plus, it’s less likely to create more push-back from those who think bikes are the root of all roadway evil.

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  • 9watts May 19, 2017 at 8:05 pm
    • Middle of the Road Guy May 21, 2017 at 10:09 am

      I was wondering when someone would bring that up.

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  • Mike Quigley May 20, 2017 at 6:09 am

    O’ woe to we who don’t have a smart phone. Really, it’s nice not being in touch.

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  • Josh May 21, 2017 at 9:35 am

    I was interested in at least checking out the route planning tools, but unfortunately there is a sign up/log in wall first thing in the app. So, deleted.

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  • John Lascurettes May 24, 2017 at 9:22 am

    This is flipping absurd. Because I topped 25 mph on my ride in, Biko wont count the ride because they only support “safe biking”.

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    • John Lascurettes May 24, 2017 at 9:23 am

      Mind you my top speed was 25.45mph and was for a small portion of my ride.

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      • John Lascurettes May 24, 2017 at 10:10 am

        Here’s the wording since it was too difficult to transpose from my phone until I got to my desktop:

        Biko detected a high speed activity. Since we promote safe biking you will not be rewarded for this ride.

        I sent them an upset letter asking them to change that policy. I can only think that because I broke 25mph by less than 1/2mph, that they’re considering that speeding in a 25mph zone. Never mind that the cars I was pedaling next to exceed that by a much larger margin every day. Sigh.

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        • John Lascurettes May 25, 2017 at 9:40 am

          hmm. Maybe it’s average speed. Because again, it said it wouldn’t count my morning commute but it did count my commute home last night. So this is even stupider:

          commute to work:
          – Avg speed: 16.34
          – Top speed: 26.64

          Commute home:
          – Avg speed: 11.96
          – Top speed: 30.34

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    • 9watts May 24, 2017 at 9:26 am

      Ironic, isn’t it. Especially since it was Big Brother who killed Steve Biko.

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  • Joe May 24, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    beer bikos. yay rewards 😛

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    • John Lascurettes May 24, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Don’t ride too “fast” — whatever that may be. (see above). 🙁

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