Free ride: app rewards users with beers, coffee for biking

People ride along a controversial bike lane on Prospect Park West on August 17, 2011 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Biking regularly offers plenty of benefits: lowering the risk of cancer and heart disease, burning calories and cutting down on your carbon footprint.

But if you need any more incentive, an app called Biko is handing out reward points for each kilometre pedalled, which can be exchanged for free goodies, such as beer and coffee.

Biko, which first launched in Colombia two years ago, announced that it was rolling out its services in Toronto on Wednesday.

“We are thrilled to launch in Toronto and join the city’s efforts in growing its cycling network,” cofounder, Emilio Pombo, said in a press release.

Pombo said he is hoping to encourage people to take up cycling as a way to reduce pollution that is incurred through other forms commuting.

And he said Biko has the data to prove that its formula to wean commuters off other modes of transportation has worked in Vancouver, Mexico City, Medellin and Bogota.

“By choosing to ride their bicycles, our users have collectively reduced carbon emissions by 2,608 tonnes globally,” he said.

In Toronto, Biko has partnered with more than a dozen businesses, including Amsterdam Brewing, Jimmy’s Coffee, Foodora, Urban Cyclist, Henderson Brewing, Skullcandy, Fresh Restaurants and others.

The app, which is free to download, works by tracking a user’s movements through GPS. For each kilometre they rack up, they earn one Biko point, which can be exchanged for free products and discounts.

For example, 10 Bikos gets you a free cold brew at Jimmy’s Coffee, while 60 can be traded in for a six-pack from Amsterdam Brewery.

While the app is geared towards cyclist, users can also collect reward points through walking or running.

More than 300 businesses are working with Biko’s across its network, according to Now Magazine.

This means if you’re cycling in another one of the other four cities involved, you can also accumulate and exchange Bikos while away from home.

Biko also has the functionality of traditional fitness tracking apps, gathering data, such as distance travelled, average speed and calories burned. It also measures the amount of carbon emissions a user has saved.