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Velocipedal Cycling App

Velocipedal is a community driven navigation app for bicycle riders within Grand Rapids.

Photo of Elizabeth Cecil
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Written by

My name is Eli(zabeth) Cecil, and my idea is a mobile app named Velocipedal.

Velocipedal is a mobile app centered around community input and bike-focused map data to help cyclists of all types and abilities find navigation routes perfect for them. When users input their current location and their desired location, the app will generate multiple route possibilities for the user to choose from. Each route will have a score from 0 - 100, with higher numbers indicating paths that are more bike friendly and generally safer to ride on, and a difficulty level (such as casual, moderate, or high) to help users pick the right route for them. Scores and categories will be generated based on input from users who have previously taken that path or a segment of that path. After each ride, users will be prompted to rate and review their route, inputting their score, category recommendation, and any additional comments they'd like others to see.

Grand Rapids has been putting a phenomenal amount of effort into becoming a more bike friendly city. Velocipedal complements this effort by giving users a community tool to easily gather and share information about biking. This information can also be available to the city, so they can have a hub of user feedback on what areas of the city need improved biking solutions.

My aim is that Velocipedal will be a streamlined, optimized app so that it can run on smartphones of any caliber. I have always wanted this app to be available to as many people as possible, without heavy barriers like expensive hardware in the way. 

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

Velocipedal, while ideally meant for any bike rider, is primarily aimed at low-income adults in the 18-35 age range. Users who cannot possess a car for any reason, whether it be financial or personal, and who ride bikes will be able to download the free app for use. The core functionality of Velocipedal has always been planned to be free in order to eliminate income barriers. Say a 23 year old freelance photographer, Stacy, is just starting to gain stability in her photo career. She can't yet afford a car, but does have a bike. She carries her photo gear with her on her bike, and needs safe and easy to travel bike paths for both her safety and the safety of her equipment. Stacy is new to Grand Rapids, so she downloads Velocipedal to gain access to community vetted route information. When she's heading to her next wedding shoot in an unfamiliar part of town, she uses Velocipedal and reads through the route reviews to find the best route to get her to her destination safely.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Initial Design - you are still exploring the idea and have not tested it with users

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

So far the team is just me. I have a background in visual design and programming and development, which is ideal for app development. My husband, an experienced software developer, is also available and willing to aid heavily with the project. I'm currently setting up the formation of my organization, Just Be Human, as an LLC, and should be receiving final confirmation within a week or so. My Github can be found here: My art portfolio is here:

Size of your team or organization

  • I am submitting as an individual

Funding Request

  • $50,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

I have already consulted numerous cyclists in Grand Rapids and the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition with the idea, and have their support on it. As such, I would reach out to these people and their connections to test the idea. Given their willingness to provide feedback thus far, they would be more than willing to help test. Any connections from the Challenge would be utilized to build a large test network within the city. I also plan to reach out to the city itself as well. The core functionality of Velocipedal, in order to provide aid to a large group of people, is planned to be free. Ad support will be present for free users, and a paid "pro version," aimed largely at competitive cyclists, will be created without ads. I also am working on reaching out to local businesses who could pay to be "Featured Stops" in the app, giving them a highlighted visual and informational presence when users are near them or pass them on a route.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

I would measure monthly active users and the number of reviews and ratings processed in the app each month. For future deployments, I initially plan to fine-tune and optimize the app for Grand Rapids use, as well as develop the pro version while solely in Grand Rapids. The future plan is, once the app is stable and successful within Grand Rapids, to branch out to other cities within Michigan (Detroit, Lansing, Traverse City) and build further within them. Growth is optimally planned to span outside of Michigan and beyond, but the first phases involve building a thriving community within Grand Rapids and then the rest of Michigan.

Attachments (1)


A booklet describing the idea and high-level plan.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Tom Bulten

Thanks for the proposal, Elizabeth! I'm one of the facilitators here on the forum. I like the idea of crowd-sourcing information about bicycle routes. Opinions may differ about routes. Some bicyclists may prefer a more direct route. Others would prefer a less hilly path. But, those differences could be described in the written reviews.

Photo of Elizabeth Cecil

Hi Tom! That's an excellent point. My current thought is that the "default" route, like navigation apps centered on car travel, would be the most direct route. Estimated travel times will be provided on all routes though! For terrain on each route, I'm currently thinking a marker of some sort to designate hilly routes, or a visual view of the map that gives the user an idea of the elevation along the path. Definitely food for thought. Thanks so much for sparking that!

Photo of DeletedUser


Here is an idea for possible enhancement, maybe incorperate a quick visual tour of different routes. Similar to touring a house digitaly or product. But in the cyclist view.

Photo of Elizabeth Cecil

Hi Rob! That is a possibility for sure, but it would likely have to be a later goal beyond a pilot. The task of mapping Grand Rapids from a cyclist's point of view and then being able to stitch the pieces together cohesively for each route would be a massive undertaking in its own right. I'll look into it though!