Aussie e-bike riders unlock a safer map app
An Australian app that promises to help new e-bike riders avoid hills and traffic has secured its first partnership, in a deal advocates say could bring Australia closer to “Copenhagen levels” of cycling.
The deal between RACV offshoot Intelematics and e-bike service Lug+Carrie will see riders in three states automatically set up with the RidePlan app.
It follows a four-week trial of the software with parents around Melbourne primary schools.
Intelematic’s senior product manager Max Wang said the RidePlan app, originally created as part of a Transport NSW innovation challenge, allows users to search for the best cycle route based on their requirements.
It can be finding the “flattest” route or the quietest roads, and not just how quickly the cyclists can reach their destination.
“The algorithm looks at parameters related to each road segment and takes into account the road surface, the number of lanes, the type of traffic on it, and the type of bicycle infrastructure if there is any,” Wang said.
“Each path gets a score, and the routing algorithm will calculate a bunch of different route options and pick the one with the least resistance.
“We find that most people value the quietest route most of the time.”
As part of the new deal with Lug+Carrie, the company’s e-bike subscribers in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will be automatically set up with the app.
Lug+Carrie co-founder Benjamin Carr said the partnership was a natural fit as the company often found new users who “aspired” to use an electric bike to replace car journeys gave up if they couldn’t find the safest route.
“Over 11 million people in Australia say they are cyclists, but fewer than 300,000 do so for transport,” he said.
“A lot of people know how to ride, but a flat tire or a bad experience or just not knowing where to go has stopped them from riding, so there’s a huge opportunity in Australia to get us up to Copenhagen- level.”
Carr said the RidePlan app provided more detail for cyclists than Google Maps, and could encourage cyclists to ride more often by comparing arrival times with different modes of transport.
“Just using the app to see what the difference is between hopping on public transport or driving or cycling, that’s a real eye-opener for a lot of people,” he said.
“If you live in a high-density area, chances are you’re talking minutes of difference, not half an hour.”
The partnership followed a four-week trial of the app with Lug+Carrie passenger e-bikes at three primary schools in Melbourne.
As part of Merri-bek City Council’s Ride and Stride programme, 40 parents used the app as they swapped driving their children to school with riding them to school on an e-bike.
The lawsuit came after record sales of e-bikes in Australia, with figures from Bicycle Industries Australia showing 60,000 sold in 2021.
Wang said the RidePlan app, which can be downloaded and used for free from the Apple and Google app stores, will be expanded in the future to include bicycle facilities such as parking and tire pumps.
“We have a road map and there are a bunch of things we’re thinking about,” he said.
“We are looking at functions such as crowdsourcing information around reporting obstacles or overlapping data around accidents.”