Pokemon Go has gamified cycling. The new app that’s taking the world by storm also happens to be great to play by bike. As more and more people realize this, the game could do more to encourage biking — especially among young people — than decades of advocacy.
I haven’t tried it myself but I’ve been monitoring chatter about bikes on the internet long enough to know when something big has happened. And it has.
The game itself is really interesting. It uses a combination of your smartphone’s map and camera to “augment reality” by placing the game’s features right on the streets where you live, work, and play. When it first hit the news all the reports were about people playing it on foot. We then started hearing about people playing while driving (bad idea!). And now it appears that a bicycle is the secret Pokemon Go weapon.
Here’s Bicycling Magazine writer (and Portland resident) Caitlin Giddings explaining why bikes and Pokemon go so well together:
Not only has my bike allowed me to access Pokéstops more quickly—so it’s easy to stock up on Pokéballs and other items—but it’s also proved invaluable in hatching eggs. Eggs are items you can find at Pokéstops. To hatch them into Pokémon, you have to walk (or even better, ride) a certain distance—between two to 10 km, as measured by your phone’s accelerometer. Eggs won’t hatch if you’re traveling that distance in a car—so you essentially have to get outside and use your own body to get the job done. On foot, this can take a while because you have to leave the app open the entire time for your steps to count. But on a bike? I think you know where I’m going with this.
Although not really a cycling app, Pokémon Go is the first cycling-adjacent app I’ve ever given a damn about