2 Week Collaboration with Hanna McLaughlin
October, 2015
Classmate Hanna McLaughlin and I set out to measure the behavioral impact of a design intervention. For our intervention we tested to see if we could make biking in Providence safer for cyclists.
STAGE 1: Context of the Project
Based on anecdotal experiences and word of mouth we felt that biking in providence was a dangerous act. Many of our peers had experienced poor road conditions and unpleasant interactions with drivers. One of them had been hit by a car and another one had been hospitalized. In hearing this we decided to explore the problems’ potential for design.
STAGE 2: Evidence for why this is a problem.
From the 2015 National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NHTSA) study, we found that Rhode Island and California record the highest percentage of cyclist fatalities due to motorists, around 5%. To better understand this number we researched what percentage of people bike commute to work in their respected urban communities. On average 0.5% of Providence commuters bike commute compared to 4-10% in major Californian urban centers. This implies there is a 10-20x higher risk of dying on your urban commute in Providence than any of the similar urban centers in California.
STAGE 3: Exploring empathy.
After looking at our research and observations, we noted that there is no precedence for studies aimed at designing empathy for bikers. We found that drivers are predominately focused on reaching their destination and everything in between is an obstacle. Due to the nature of biking being much slower, bikers experience numerous car passes during their ride. Therefore bikers become an obstacle.
STAGE 4: The purpose of this study is to increase empathy for bikers.
Defining bikers as an obstacle to drivers is a problem. This disassociates the person from the bike and creates potentially dangerous situations. By introducing empathetic stimulus for the driver towards the biker, perhaps the road can become more humane and safe.
STAGE 5: The significance of the project is safer roads.
We believe by increasing empathy for bikers that they are less likely to be honked at, cut off and driven-to-closely-to. Because of the decrease of these variables in our data we are confident that this is true. Additionally, there was a decrease in discomfort, implying that rides became safer due to our stimulus. Ultimately by increasing safety, we can save cyclist lives from motor vehicle accidents.
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