Heuristic Evaluation of a bike lane in Lima, Peru
Updated: Jun 1, 2022
Lima is the capital of Peru and a megacity of ten million people located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. The main transport mode is public transport (fifty per cent of daily trips), while cycling accounts for less than one per cent of daily trips (Jauregui Fung et al., 2019). However, this situation has changed as a consequence of the current Covid-19 pandemic and the number of walking and cycling daily trips has increased, and so has the length of bike lanes throughout the city.
Figure 1. Location of bike line
San Isidro and Miraflores are two districts located along the cliff that acts as the border of the city. Each district designed its own bike lane along this border and connected them by a bridge, which prevents users from cycling along a very busy avenue that runs one block away in the same direction (Figure 1). However, this connected bike lane presents some difficulties for users that need to be analysed. This is why a heuristic evaluation (HE) for everyday cycling was selected as a method to assess a section of two kilometres following the eight principles of accessibility, consistency, cost-benefit, forgiveness, hierarchy of needs, signal to use ratio, user control and visibility (Table 1).
Table 1. Heuristic Evaluation for everyday biking overview
From this evaluation, the analysed track receives a mixed review. On one hand, the path is one of the most beautiful routes to cycle in the city. The user has a privileged view of the ocean, green open spaces and a wide street with very low traffic (Figure 2), features that comply with the usability principles of cost-benefit, hierarchy of needs and visibility. During the Covid-19 pandemic, one section of the bike lane was widened over road space, reducing the length of lanes allocated for cars, and therefore the speed of traffic. In addition, the bridge allows the bike lane to be continuous and connects the sections of San Isidro and Miraflores. This path is also connected to the immediate surrounding bike lane network, which is suitable for everyday biking. As an initiative to promote cycling, the municipality of Miraflores has installed a bike rental system, with two bike stations within the selected track. This shows the municipal interest in improving the cycling system in the district.
Figure 2. Bike lane and green open spaces
However, the HE found many issues that should be considered, especially when more active cycling is intended to be promoted. The main issues are found under the principles of consistency, forgiveness and signal to noise ratio. There is not a consistent definition of the directions of the two-way bike lane, which can lead to confusion when users find others cycling in the opposite direction. This is worsened by the fact that the width constantly changes throughout the route, from a more comfortable width that allows one people travelling in each direction, to a very narrow track that does not comply with cycling regulations along a bamboo fence (Figure 3). In fact, this fence divides the track from a park that is supposed to be public but has restriction hours set by the municipality of San Isidro. Some minor observation is that the pavement changes throughout the track between black asphalt, grey concrete and concrete painted in red, which can lead to more confusion (Figures 3, 4 and 5).
In addition, the new bridge does not have an adequate slope for less skilled cyclists and users with special needs. The signage is also unclear and not universal. In the bridge section, the bike lane has signage that allows roller-skaters and scooters (Figure 4), but this does not appear in any other section of the route. In other sections, the path is used for jogging as there is not specification for the use of the lane. More importantly, there is no specific signage to foresee turns and curves, especially in the narrowest section next to the fence and in close proximity with pedestrians, which gives little room for errors.
Figure 3, 4 and 5. Different sections of the selected track
Although there are good intentions for the promotion of cycling in the area, and the analysed track is continuous and provides good connectivity between both districts and the immediate cycling network, both municipalities of Miraflores and San Isidro need to improve the design of the bike lane to provide a more consistent and uniform path. This will provide a much more efficient path, based on user-centred methods. It is clear that the current bike lane has not been designed considering the needs of users, but rather conceived as a narrowing of the sidewalk and intended for multipurpose uses (cycling, roller-skaters, scooters, and jogging). Therefore, constant feedback from users from all backgrounds and abilities is needed in order to leave no one behind.
The main recommendations in compliance with the usability principles are the following:
Provide a consistent bike lane in terms of width, direction, signage and material (consistency)
Widen the bike lane in the narrowest section, especially in the track surrounded by the useless fence that divides the bike lane from a public park (forgiveness)
Pave the bike lane with smooth, anti-slip red asphalt, that can be easily identifiable and is separated from the pedestrian path with a floor level difference and lighting (consistency, signal to noise ratio)
Provide a universal and uniform signage that designates the direction of the bike lane and its adequate use (consistency, signal to noise ratio)
Set a communications campaign for the adequate use of the bike lane and promotion of active cycling (accessibility, user control)
These recommendations will contribute to increasing the potential of this route, which can be replicated in other parts of the city, following user-centred methods to implement bike lanes designed for and with users from all backgrounds.
Finally, the Peruvian government is doing efforts to promote cycling use. In 2017, the Municipality of Lima, in cooperation with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the International Climate Initiative (IKI), developed a manual for the design of cycling infrastructure and a guide for the cyclist. In addition, in 2019, the Law Nº 30936 was enacted to promote and regulate bicycle use as a sustainable transport mode. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Supreme Decree 012-2020-MTC approved the regulation of the Law Nº 30936 for the development of public policies in favour of cycling infrastructure, cycling education and days off for employees who use bicycles to commute. There is still long way to go, but these efforts show that Lima is indeed trying to go in the right direction in favour of more sustainable transport modes.
Jauregui-Fung et al. (2019). Anatomy of an Informal Transit City: Mobility Analysis of the Metropolitan Area of Lima
Municipalidad de Lima (2017). Manual de Normas Técnicas para la Construcción de Ciclovías y Guía de Circulación de Bicicletas (Spanish)
Ley Nº 30936 que promueve y regula el uso de la bicicleta como medio de transporte sostenible (Spanish)
Decreto Supremo Nº 012-2020-MTC que aprueba el Reglamento de la Ley N° 30936, modifica el Reglamento Nacional de Tránsito, aprobado por Decreto Supremo N° 033-2001-MTC y el Reglamento Nacional de Gestión de Infraestructura Vial, aprobado por Decreto Supremo N° 034-2008-MTC (Spanish)
Lima Cómo Vamos (2020). Recomendaciones para la política nacional de movilidad sostenible en el marco del COVID-19 (Spanish)
Interested in knowing more about Heuristic Evaluation? This project is presented as the final assignment for the course User Experience for Inclusive Cycling in Cities. Check the course to learn further :)