Ouvos is a community-based navigation app meant to provide cyclists with real time data on road conditions and interact with the environment around them. To bring awareness to cyclists of their ever-changing surroundings via a cycling app, it was only natural to provide users with an interactive map that would generate content sourced by the strong cycling community around them.
The idea first originated at a college incubator in 2017, where the frustration of just getting on a bike in New York was something that anyone who’s used a Citi Bike can relate to. Getting on a bike can be daunting even with all the bells, lights and whistles added to your bike, there is very little one can do against the unknown. More formally, how could an individual gain real time data on events happening across the city? How could our travels on a bike become more reactive to a change in the neighborhood rather than preventive? An interesting problem that had neither an existing solution nor an entity trying to tackle this problem. It was only after several iterations and the aid of partners such as NYC Media Lab, was Ouvos able to emerge with a working prototype. In March of 2018, Ouvos launched its first private Beta into the wild world of apps to better understand the conventions and norms within the cycling community and to test whether an interactive crowd sourced map was a solution to the problem.
Soon after the launch, the app quickly gained attention and traction on the app stores, sparking a growth in the user base. At this point of time, it became apparent that Ouvos was solving a problem. One that was not being addressed and one that cyclists were desperately looking to solve. Work on the private beta continued; ironing out some kinks in the app as well as looking into user requests became an important part of the private beta. It was on the 1st of July 2018 that the beta was made available to the wide public and here at Ouvos, we saw an exponential growth of our user base. We were excited to see how much feedback the app was receiving and decided to quickly iterate and work on building the next version.
However, since the inception of Ouvos and its growth as a company, many organizations within the USA, both private and public, have been advocating towards building a cycle friendly city across several states including New York. It was back in 2018, when rumors began spreading of the closing of the L line in Manhattan, did Citibike come to the rescue by deploying nearly a thousand electric bikes across the city. The victory was short lived for Motivate, the parent company of Citibike and the largest bike share company in America, as it was acquired by Lyft in the same year. A move that may have been motivated by Uber’s acquisition of the bike share startup “Jump” and its investment in Lime, an electric scooter share company. Both companies competing for dominance in the bike space have already begun providing valuable assets to the Cities for both locals and tourists alike. Unfortunately, the rapid growth of bike availability to the general public has done little, if done at all, any help to the safety of cyclists in general traffic. Although, De Blasio’s vision zero initiative has tremendously brought down the number of fatalities due to bike related incidents, the initiative has failed to reduce the number of bike accidents occurring within New York City. There are many speculations as to the cause of these incidents, such as failure to comply with traffic signals, but it is merely just that, speculation.
It is not all bad news, as Ouvos is excited to announce the launch of Version 2 of its app. Safety is a dominant issue that is difficult to tackle and one that Ouvos is determined to solve. The app includes several sought out features that were voiced by many users in the Beta including turn by turn navigation and hazard reporting. The journey for Ouvos is one still unfolding and is a journey we hope that fellow cyclists will embark with us on as we continue to build out our platform.