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This article was published on January 27, 2021

Every navigation app should have Cowboy’s air-quality ebike route feature

This is a really neat idea

Every navigation app should have Cowboy’s air-quality ebike route feature
Matthew Beedham
Story by

Matthew Beedham

Editor, SHIFT by TNW

Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls. Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls.

Air pollution is one of the world’s biggest silent killers. Poor air quality can lead to stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and other chronic respiratory diseases. The World Health Organization says 4.2 million deaths a year are a result of polluted air.

Bike commuters face this problem on a daily basis. However, help is on its way from Belgian ebike maker, Cowboy.

[Read: How Netflix shapes mainstream culture, explained by data]

In the latest update of its app — out this week — Cowboy has added a navigation feature which allows riders to plan their routes based on air quality.

Air quality data is supplied by Breezometer, the same company that supplies air quality data to the Apple Weather app. This allows the Cowboy app to design a route using localized air quality data, and direct riders to the cleanest roads to get them to their destination.

cowboy, app, ebike
Credit: Cowboy
The Cowboy ebike app lets riders choose their route based on air quality. The app uses local air quality data to design routes that expose riders to as little pollution as possible, whilst stillg etting them to their destination in good time.

Cowboy says it’s the first ebike maker to include a navigate-by-air quality feature in its app. That certainly seems to be the case.

There are a bunch of air quality apps out there like, Breezometer, Local Haze, and Plume. There are also cycling focused navigation apps, like All Trails, that let users overlay air quality data on maps. But I haven’t come across an app that blends the two.

I must doth my cap to Cowboy, because this is a neat and simple idea that should have dreamed up sooner. As someone who is always planning cycling routes, it’s great to have another choice on top of the standard fastest, shortest, or most popular route options.

If you’re cycling to work, you probably value your health, so this feature just makes sense.

There is a downside, though.

Because the navigate-by-air quality feature is part of the Cowboy app, you can’t access it unless you own a Cowboy ebike.

So, a message to navigation app developers: please give us air quality-based navigation options! It’s a feature all satnavs should have.

We are fans of Cowboy’s ebike here at TNW, check out what my esteemed colleague Callum Booth had to say when he slung his leg over one of the first versions 2019.


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