Updated: Aug 15
How might a Bicycle User Experience (BUX) look in practice? The BUX Blog will be exploring 7 pieces of existing infrastructure that represent user experience and usability principles. So far, we have looked at The Hovenring, a Disco Tunnel, and the UC Davis Campus. Up fourth, the Bronx River Greenway's Shoelace Park section.
In the dense "urban jungle" of New York City, green space is extremely valuable. The greenway running through Shoelace Park in the residential Williamsbridge neighborhood of The Bronx is a great example of this. Once a polluted river area, it has transformed into a place where people gather and children play. Hearing the birds chirp, tree branches sway, and water run down the river, you can even forget you're in New York.
The following video by the Bronx River Alliance playfully and effectively explains the greenway's value and the river's transformation.
Video Credit: Bronx River Alliance
The greenway is a major enhancer of quality of life and a vital part of the Williamsbridge neighborhood. How is the everyday person's experience riding a bike here? Is it enjoyable and practical for people of all backgrounds? Does it provide a Bicycle User Experience (BUX)?
In order to evaluate the usability of infrastructure in a systematic way, we can conduct a heuristic evaluation. Commonly used in the tech world to examine digital interfaces, heuristic evaluations are an important part of usability, which has been key to the success of companies with easy to use products.
The Bicycle User Experience (BUX) approach translates this to a physical interface. By evaluating adherence to established design principles ("heuristics"), we can measure how easy and pleasant a street or path is to use. This should be done by trying out the infrastructure and observing others use it. Multiple people with different perspectives conducting the evaluation yields more robust results. The heuristic evaluation above was conducted after riding on and observing the Bronx River Greenway.
The greenway is highly accessible and provides a large amount of user control. A diverse range of people can meet their personal needs and be in charge of their own experience here. It is also forgiving: new riders can wobble or move slowly, and people can relax and look around for a bit, all without major consequences.
On the flip side, the path struggles at times with consistency and visibility. While riding down the greenway, the pavement sometimes becomes very bumpy and other times it is unclear where to ride. This can make the experience of riding a bike here unpredictable and may induce some stress.
Nonetheless, the Bronx River Greenway is altogether a relaxing, delightful greenway that elevates the quality of life for all the different people using it. It may not be as flashy as the Hovenring or Disco Tunnel, but it is still a wonderful representation of a Bicycle User Experience.
In the next post, we will take a look at a bike path that lets you ride through a famous Dutch museum: the Rijksmuseum.
Greenway - Bronx River Alliance
The Bronx River Greenway - NYC Parks
I am the Bronx River! (Video)
Bronx River greenway will get new bike lane, play spaces, storm protection - NY Daily News