Research group at imec & Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Research Result

Capturing the experience of urban cyclists throughout the city

As city populations grow, urban life is becoming ever more complex. The mobility issue is of particular concern to many policymakers. Can smart technology offer us tools to make more sense of how people move through the city? We investigated whether a bike-mounted sensor allows us to learn more about people’s cycling experience and behavior. For instance, what topics concern urban cyclists?

Measuring cyclists’ behavior and interacting with cyclists in real-time

Participants were invited to participate in a two-week user test during which a sensor device was attached to their bike’s steering wheel. This allowed us to capture real-time data on cycling circumstances, such as noise, speed and location. In addition, participants could report live on their experience, such as infrastructure issues, using two buttons on the sensor device. To construct the device, we used 3D printing. This set-up is a specific example of two methods, we use at SMIT:

  1. Experience sampling (i.e. real-time measurement of user experience), and
  2. Proxy technology assessment (i.e. introducing technology that resembles the innovation under development in people’s everyday setting)

Cycling comfort is a top priority

We learned that safety remains a major issue for urban cyclists. Yet, cycling comfort seems to be top priority. Think about, for example, the intelligent timing of traffic lights that allow people to conveniently pass through the city. We also noticed that the fact that cyclists could report issues ‘live’ had an influence on their experience. Cyclists mention a feeling of relief when pushing the buttons. Also, at some occasions, it made them more aware of their environment.

This study is part of the Citizen Bike project

This research took place in 2017 in the context of the Citizen Bike project, part of imec’s “City of Things” Living Lab in Antwerp in cooperation with the City of Antwerp and Flanders. More information is available on the website of City of Things and in the Citizen Bike video below.

Citizen_Bike from imec on Vimeo.