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Why the way of working matters for the human experience of cycling

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

In the previous post, I outlined why I think human experience matters for cycling practitioners. In this mini lesson, I will make the connection between the end user's experience on the bike path and an agile way of working inside planning organizations.

 

Designing for cycling experience means putting people at the center of the street design process to make streets where people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds can ride a bike. In order to develop bicycle infrastructure that is aligned with people's needs, designs need to focus on people.


However, even the best-researched, most human-centered design that there is could be stuck in working processes that delay it for years or stop it from being implemented at all. In order for people-centered bike infrastructure to happen in practice, someone has to build it. That often means going through a planning department and lots of other interested parties and citizens.


Thus, it is important to be people-centered not only at the design level, but also at the process level. You need to consider the people you are working with and how a project may come to fruition.


Process level necessary for people-centered bikeways in practice (Graphic by author)


Moving from a concept to implementation is not easy. In research on the the Bicycle Program of the Municipality of Amsterdam, I found potential in the ideas behind an agile way of working (e.g. experimentation, reflection, collaboration) to help with organizational learning.


These ideas inherent in agile working are about people and how they learn/progress together. Furthermore, the word "agile" is misused. Thus, I propose describing them as a people-centered way of working.


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


So... zooming out to the present. Perhaps you have recently had an enjoyable ride on a nice bike path. Now you know that in addition to the design work that goes into it, a working process must also bring the bike path to fruition.


Or... perhaps you would like to have a nice bike path nearby and you are thus advocating very hard for one. May I propose now, to consider the utility of also advocating for a people-centered way of working?


With Bicycle User Experience (BUX), I now do too. This, I hope, will help us reach seeing bicycle infrastructure that is aligned with people's needs in practice.

 

Want to learn more about agile bicycle planning? Enroll in our online course, and check out our other instructional offerings.

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