Officials and forward-thinking citizens in the northwestern Colombian city of Medellin have decided to promote the use of bicycles by means of a digital application with specific benefits for users, as a means of lowering pollution levels in a city going through an environmental emergency.
To complement other projects and restrictions aimed at cleaning Medellin's air - such as limits on automotive traffic - a group of innovators presented the "Biko" app for mobile devices, which encourages the use of bicycles by converting the number of kilometers (miles) pedaled into points that can be donated to worthy causes or spent at restaurants and places of entertainment.
"This technological platform motivates riding bicycles in urban areas for the three benefits they offer: transportation, protecting the environment and healthy living," Emilio Pombo, co-founder of the Colombian company Biko, told EFE.
Over the past few weeks, the Air Quality Monitoring Network of Aburra Valley, in charge of studying and measuring air quality in the Medellin metropolitan area, said that now is a "critical" time with as much as twice the normal concentration of PM2.5 particles (the finest and most harmful to human health).
Though restrictions on autos have diminished the pollution a little, the environmental emergency continues, which makes the Biko app an invaluable resource.
"What has occurred in recent weeks has put us on the alert and shows that an ultra-motorized city based on individual transportation is asphyxiating us," Tobon told EFE.