Go! Cyclist   

Aug - Dec 2016, Atlanta


For Georgia Tech students who are studying at a campus located at the midtown of Atlanta, where commuting by car is time-consuming due to the heavy traffic and lack of parking spots, cycling is a green and economical alternative to save commuting time.

However, Atlanta is not a paradise for cyclists either. Most streets do not have bike lanes so cyclists would have to share the roads either with wild drivers, or with unpredictable pedestrians, which makes cycling a less pleasant experience than it should be.

Go Biker is a mobile app that provides suggestions on route selection and departure time to avoid encountering with heavy traffic or crowds. It integrates data of vehicle density, pedestrian density, special road conditions, and personal schedule, and gives cyclists navigation with collaboration of bluetooth-connected vibration devices attached on bike handles, through a less distractive vibration signal.

With the help of Go Biker, cycling becomes a safer and more relaxing experience.

METHODS USED : Interview, Contexual Inquiry, Hierarchical Task Analysis, Persona, Storyboards, Usability Testing

Route Suggestion:

This class project started from a broad topic: solving problems in campus life. Because cycling is an important commute approach for students, my team decided to improve the biking experience for Georgia Tech students.

Haptical Navigation:

Go Biker frees cyclists' eyes and ears from traditional navigation approaches. It can be connected to vibration handle device that gives cyclists vibration signals for directions.

Campus life assistant:

Student cyclists can sync their class schedules into Go Biker using Georgia Tech student account. Go Biker will provide departure time suggestions to prevent them from being trapped in crowds.

Timely notification:

Too busy to check the road conditions and when to depart? Go Biker pushs timely and helpful information through notification that can be easily interact with.

Designed for YOU:

A filter is designed in Go biker to support a flexible range of preferances. Cyclists can edit the filter to plan route according to their personal habits.

#1 Identify Problem Areas

This class project started from a broad topic: solving problems in campus life. Because cycling is an important commute approach for students, my team decided to improve the biking experience for Georgia Tech students.

#1.1 Preliminary Interview

What’s biggest problem that has been impairing the experience?

The way we answered this question was to interact directly with our target users and ask for their concerns so we can ask deeper questions based on the conversation. We conducted preliminary interviews in a semi-structure form with 10 student cyclists across a broad scope of topics that we thought might be problems, such as bicycle parking, navigation, safety, security and so on.

Finally, we found that user’s concernings centralized to a big topic: safety. Another valuable takeaway from the preliminary interviews is a brief understanding of target user's behaviors and habits.

#1.2 Survey

Safety is still a broad scope because our interviewees mentioned various scenarios where they felt unsafe. We decided to narrow down the problem by finding out the most typical scenario where student cyclists feel unsafe to ride a bike.

We summarized the scenarios that were mentioned by our previous interviewees, based on which we developed a short survey with Likert scale questions to help us narrow down to the most stressful scenario.

We chose to collect data by survey because it can be spread easily to broad audiences. Eventually 31 cyclists gave their responses and helped us converge to two scenarios: 1) riding bike on campus at peak hours; 2) riding bike off campus.

#2 Identify User Needs

So why are cyclists nervous at these scenarios? What could possibly help? With the new questions in mind, we conducted contextual inquiries and interviews to get deeper insights specifically on these two scenarios.

#2.1 Contextual Inquiry & Follow-up Interview

Contextual inquiry helped us observe cyclists' behavior in the actual riding environment. In our 2 contextual inquiry interviews, we used our own bicycle with an attached mobile phone to record the whole process (picture above). Interviewers rode this bicycle to follow our interviewees, asking them questions when necessary, like ‘How did you avoid the pedestrians right now at the cross?’ or ‘why do you choose this route instead of other ones?’

To obtain more data within a limited time, regular interviews were also conducted regarding to the two unsafe scenarios. 5 student cyclists took the interviews, including the two who had participated the contextual inquiries.

#2.2 Affinity Mapping

To identify specific pain points and fomulate a target user persona, we used affinity mapping to categorize our findings from the interview notes.

#2.3 Hierarchical Task Analysis

Based on the information we obtained from the contextual inquiries and interviews, we concluded task characteristics and influence from environment, and presented the conclusions with a Hierarchical Task Analysis diagram.

#3 Pain Points

So these are the safety issues that bother cyclists most:

1. There are always roads that don’t have bike lanes, so they have to ride on sidewalks or share roads with drivers, which is a catalyst to the following two problems;

2. During peak hour on campus, such as class switching time, students flood out and head to their next destination. cyclists have to move so carefully to avoid hitting into pedestrians;

3. While riding bike off campus, they have to ride close to car drivers, most of whom don’t pay enough attention to cyclists. Cyclists have to be so careful to keep themselves safe.

#4 User Needs

Safer approach to share roads

Cyclists want to share the roads in a way that is less threatening to all the road users, especially pedestrians & drivers. Ideally cyclists would like to ride on bike lanes; if bike lanes are not available, a relatively clear-defined area, such as sidewalks would be a alternative.

A less intrusive and less distractive solution

Many existing products addressing biking safety problem require manual control during riding. But according to the task analysis, cyclists are dealing with so many subtasks while riding. They really need something that doesn’t disturb them or even reduce their efforts for keeping safe.

#1 BrianStorm

We generated 20 different ideas addressing the user needs. After a creativity- feasibility analysis and combination of similar ideas, we generated 4 design concepts.

#2 Design Concepts

We generated 20 different ideas addressing the user needs. After a creativity- feasibility analysis and combination of similar ideas, we generated 4 design concepts.

Idea1 Mobile Alerts

Using phone as a alerting mechanism attached on a holder. The phone give alerts to people around depends on the distance, also displays light signals like arrow while turning or speed using inbuilt phone sensors.

Idea2 Projected Signs

A light system capable of projecting patterns on the road to indicate its future location, directions and travel lane. This idea is generated by combining 3 different ideas which all require projecting lights.

Idea3 Real-time Monitor

Auto-Alert Sensor to tell bikers and drivers the location of each other when they meet.

Idea4 Bicycle Route Planner

A mobile app that integrates route conditions helps cyclists choose a safest route by avoiding the crowded or dangerous road conditions.

#3 Feedback Section

#4 Semi-Structure Interview Result

#4.1 Audio navigation wouldn't work

Our target users are dissatisfied with the audio navigation. The roads can be extremely noisy and they cannot hear the instruction without wearing headphone. However, headphone is another factor that cause safety issue during cycling.

Alternative: vibration signal navigation

A vibration device will be attached to each handle. The devices are connected to the app through Bluetooth, and generates vibrations in different rhythm to tell users what actions to take.

#4.2 On campus, it is the time that really matters

For on-campus situation, the app will probably not be used frequently because the campus has a limited scope, so most of time there are only few options from Place A to Place B, which may all occupies with students at peak time; also students are usually quite familiar with the campus, they don't really need a navigation. Since the unsafe situation in campus is caused by crowds during peak hours, a departure time advisor to help cyclists avoid the peak hours would be more useful than a route planner and navigation here.

Add-on feature: personalized departure reminder

Since our users are Georgia Tech students, who usually have fixed schedule and destinations, the new design pushes notifications to provide suggestions on departure time and an optimized route (if applicable) referring to personal schedule and the regular peak hours. Users can easily dismiss the notification after reading it.

#4.3 Cars and pedestrians are not the only issues

Besides density of fellow travelers, here is another information that this app should provide to help bikers plan route: road closings due to campus events, or construction on sidewalks. cyclists have to detour if they didn’t know that. This issue is very relevant to the route planning feature because the planning doesn’t make sense if the route we suggest is blocked. However, this problem is not directly related to safety issue. Therefore the following feature won't be the focus of this design.

Add-on features: additional road conditions & condition report

Information such as road closings due to campus events, or construction on sidewalks will necessarily affect route selection. However, such information is usually not included in regular traffic map API, so we would have to import information of events and constructions that may occupy the streets from university websites. In case we miss anything, we would allow users to report such conditions