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Feelings & People

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

How do you feel while riding a bike?


In this mini-lesson we introduce human feelings as part of the cycling experience. We then ask you to reflect on feelings in your own cycling experience.


Our feelings play a significant factor in how we choose to get around, yet they are often discounted by transportation planning paradigms that are focused solely on numbers and travel models.


Feelings are especially relevant for cycling as a mode of transportation in particular because:

  • Subjective safety is a key factor in people choosing to cycle or not to cycle (see for example here)

  • Cycling is a highly embodied experience (a "human-machine hybrid" (Vivanco, 2013) where you are exposed to the physical environment around you

  • When someone cycles they become a "vulnerable" road user

(For those interested, we provide links in the bullet points above as a starting point to explore the concepts in more detail).


Cycling experience is what a human being experiences while cycling. Feelings are one window into the mental experience that a person has while cycling.


Feelings and your cycling experience


With this in mind, we ask you to reflect on your own feelings while cycling. This will give you a window into part of your cycling experience.


The exercise: choose one of the last times you rode a bicycle. Visualize yourself on the street or bike path during the most memorable moments. What stood out to you most? How do you remember feeling when you encountered this? Write down 3-5 adjectives describing how you felt.


Bicycle path between trees in Schiedam, The Netherlands (Photo by author)


The exercise part 2: If you chose a positive experience for part one, choose this time one of the most recent or memorable negative experiences you have had while riding a bicycle. Repeat the exercise and write down 3-5 adjectives describing how you felt. Did you choose a negative experience for part one? Then instead do it for a positive experience this time.


A person cycling behind a bus in Murcia, Spain (Photo by author)


The exercise part 3: So, what did you write down? With these two experiences in mind, brainstorm now what you would like to feel while cycling. Perhaps you would cycle more if you felt this way.


We've gathered some adjectives to get you thinking...



The exercise part 4: Brainstorm now what you do not want to feel while cycling. What feelings drive you away from riding a bike? You can picture yourself riding on a high speed road with large motor vehicles driving closely by you. Or, any street environment that causes you to avoid cycling.


Again, we've gathered some adjectives to get you thinking...


Bonus - the exercise part 5: Can you connect what you've written down in parts 1-4 to the street/bicycle infrastructure itself? In which cases did the bike path or street play a memorable part in your positive experience? Or, did it play a functional role that allowed you to have your own experience? What adjectives would you use to describe the infrastructure?


We've again gathered a list...

Is this part 5 interesting to you? Then, we recommend you explore UX principles in practice in the Netherlands here.

 

So, how might bikeways actually be like if designers put everyday people at the center? When bike planning is framed this way, the profession becomes just as much about everyday people as it is about bikes. That means professionals  learn about people and make biking work for them. The challenge becomes fitting the bike into their lives and making them feel comfortable, satisfied, and at-ease.


Bicycle User Experience (BUX) aims to help fill this gap and make everyday biking a reality by taking insights from people-centered design fields such as User Experience Design, Usability, Service Design, and Human Centered Design, and applying them to street design. By studying people and following methodologies from the aforementioned fields, we can bring people back to the center of the conversation on street design and make streets that fit their needs, feelings and desires.


Want to learn how to design streets for a better user experience? We offer a variety of online and in-person courses. Is your organization interested in utilizing this approach? Check out what we offer to help you make the transformation.

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