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WHAT: Examination of an interface (the street) to judge its compliance with recognized usability principles (the “heuristics").

WHY: Tangibly evaluate how usable a street is for everyday people riding a bike and learn about strong and weak points of a street’s usability.

END GOAL: Build a common language for citizens and planners around cycling experience. Move away from planning jargon and towards people’s feelings and experiences.

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Examples of Principles

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Heuristic Evaluation Example

5th Avenue Heuristic Evaluation Video

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In short, a Heuristic Evaluation is:

  • In a Heuristic Evaluation, you estimate the usability of an interface.

What is the point of a Heuristic Evaluation for urban mobility professionals?

  • The point is to evaluate quickly and broadly how usable a street is. You identify its strengths and flaws based on the overview of ratings per principle.

Where did this method come from?

  • It originates in the field of human-computer interaction and was developed by usability specialists Jakob Nielsen and Rolf Molich to assess interfaces. Nielsen Norman Group (co-founded by Jakob Nielsen) has a library of resources on usability methods, including this article.

How were the heuristics used in the BUX version of the Heuristic Evaluation method chosen?

  • The heuristics were selected for their suitability to evaluate “everyday cycling”. Criteria for this included which heuristics matched the context of the street interface and the embodied activity of riding a bicycle. Furthermore, which ones aligned with the idea of making streets usable to the widest variety of people, and allowed different riding styles. The heuristics were selected from a compilation of broader universal principles of the design fields.

Are the heuristics listed in the BUX version of the method the only ones I can or should use?

  • These are just one list. Other best practice lists in the bicycle planning field include the 5 principles of the CROW manual, and the 5 principles of the “sustainable safety” vision. It is possible that there are other selections of best practice principles that fit your specific use case.

Could you develop a heuristic evaluation for the suitability of roads for sport cycling (or another specialized practice)?

  • This could be possible. If you were to do this, we recommend to consider consulting people specialized in the needs of sport cyclists (or chosen specialized practice) to compile the list of relevant heuristics.

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