When Hackforge kicked off the C3Tech initiative in February 2022, one of our first goals was to learn about and engage with the cycling community in Windsor-Essex. To get this started, we released a short survey asking about why people cycle and what (if any) technology they use while doing so.

Of the 152 responses received, nearly 64% indicated that they cycle more than once a week, while 2% say they never cycle. (This isn’t a surprising outcome, since people who ride their bikes frequently are obviously more likely to respond to a survey about riding their bikes – but it’s still good to note.)

76% of respondents say the number one reason they ride their bike is for exercise or fun, while 22% ride mainly as a form of transportation.

As with most things in modern life, technology has invaded cycling. When it comes to planning and tracking their routes, 80% of our respondents use some type of application – mobile or otherwise.

The app that C3Tech aims to develop, then, is targeted towards that 80% who like to have technology as part of their routine. Since there’s no need to recreate the apps these riders are already using, what features should go in a Windsor-Essex cycling app?

Luckily, we asked that question, too!

Based on preliminary conversations with members of the cycling community, and armed with some knowledge of what is achievable within the 12-month span of this project, we suggested a few tools that might be created.

By far the most popular response was “Route suggestions based on safety,” with 129 votes, followed by “points of interest,” with 87 votes (each respondent was able to vote for as many of the 7 options as they wished).

We’ve taken this feedback to heart, and are currently working on building out WindsorEssexCycling.ca to consider safety when selecting routes.

In our Hackathon held this spring, one of the participating teams developed a solution that allows an administrator to set “No-Go Routes,” which the routing application will then avoid when creating a path between user-selected points. By taking dangerous roads and intersections out of the equation, the routes suggested by the application are inherently safer for all cyclists.

This proof-of-concept tool is influencing how the C3Tech Summer Intern adds considerations for route safety into our final product. We’re also launching a Route Advisory Committee to help us determine which road sections should be avoided completely, and which should only be used by experienced cyclists. Stay tuned for more news on safe cycling routes!