I’ve been an avid cyclist and triathlete for a third of my life. I’ve cycled in places all around the country and abroad. I introduced my brother and many of my friends to cycling and I met my wife on a road bike here in San Antonio. Cycling is part of who I am. But cycling in San Antonio and Central Texas has taken a turn for the worse as accidents are on the rise.
This fact really hit close to home when several people I know were involved in bike-car accidents in San Antonio, a couple of which resulted in serious injuries. I have personally been involved in two minor accidents with cars, and I subsequently read that there is more than one reported bicycle accident per day in San Antonio.
After the birth of our first child in 2012, my wife and I looked at our lifestyle and decided we just didn’t feel safe getting out on the roads anymore now that we had our little guy. But we still loved road cycling and certainly didn’t want to give it up.
I had to do something about the situation and thought, “What if there was something that could proactively keep us safe and visible out on the roads so we could still enjoy the sport we loved?”
That’s when the idea for Swagon hit me, “How about an on-demand escort vehicle that we could use on our everyday training rides?”
At first I dismissed it as unfeasible and silly, but when people started asking me to provide a Swagon on their rides, I explored it more. Being an entrepreneur, I took a year to do market research and write a business plan. I found that existing safety-enhancing solutions cater to bicycle commuters and leisure cyclists. They are failing the vast majority (90%) who are fitness-oriented road cyclists like myself.
I launched the service on a limited basis in 2014, and after a few months of providing Swagon in San Antonio, I realized this was actually something people wanted and the small operation quickly reached capacity.
Users have said they really like that we provide a substantial buffer between motorists and cyclists, which results in continually enhanced safety and visibility throughout a road cycling ride.
Our problem has changed from “Do people really want it?” to “How do we provide more?”
Since Swagon focuses on increasing everyday riding safety and is designed for cyclists to use during every one of their fitness road rides, it has to be easy to schedule and use. We have created a mobile device-friendly website where riders can go to schedule a Swagon for their ride group.
When a rider books a Swagon, a professional driver will drive a Swagon support vehicle to meet riders at their ride start, follow them in the vehicle during the ride to increase their road visibility and safety, record safety video of the ride to catch bad drivers, provide mechanical support, and transport gear and nutrition.
A repeated request we have received from riders is that they want an easier user experience when scheduling Swagon and communicating with us. They also want the service more widely available. To meet these requests, we are developing a mobile app technology to enhance and expand our existing service, and have launched a Kickstarter to help fund development.
The app will enable the service on a wide scale in San Antonio because it will allow us to seamlessly sync riders with drivers, very similar to the Uber or Lyft rideshare app concept.
We launched the Swagon Kickstarter campaign yesterday. Check it out here. If you like this San Antonio-based startup, consider funding our technology development. We look forward to welcoming you to the team.
Other ways to get involved with Swagon:
- Use the Kickstarter share tools to post the campaign, especially on all your social media sites.
- Directly ask people you know to check out Swagon and contribute.
- Contact Swagon with ideas or ways you might like to help.
*Featured/top image: Jerett Gordon poses for a photo with a Swagon vehicle, which provides on-demand cyclist protection. Courtesy photo.