Prachi learned to ride a bike late in life, at the age of thirteen. Though, at that age, she didn’t ever get a chance to ride her bike outside of her house compound in India. The streets outside of her house were busy with traffic. I can imagine some similarities to the streets of New York.
Prachi’s took her first proper ride the day she bought a new bike as an undergrad. It was a proper ride, to say the least—all 14 miles of it. Needless to say, Prachi has her daring and ambitious side:
“I head straight for the most difficult path,” she says.
Prachi moved to New York nearly a year ago, and hasn’t ridden or even owned a bike since she gave hers away in India. When she said yes to being a contestant in the SPOKED Kickstand IxD battle, Kristin and I were both excited, but a little confused about how she would bike without a bike. Regardless, we signed her up to color the map in mustard yellow string of yarn.
Still, I couldn’t help to think, ‘why did she do it?’ So, I asked her:
“I’m just looking for reasons to go out in the city, and usually I don’t find one. So I thought, ‘Awesome, I can borrow and bike and just go out. And, I have at least some motivation to do that.’ Otherwise, I can’t think of any other reasons why I would go for a walk, on say the Hudson river park in the middle of the day. But now I have to cycle and get miles, so I should go.”
And, when I asked, ‘Are you planning to ride more?’ Prachi unhesitantly answered:
‘Yes, I am. It was awesome.”
But, she didn’t stop at that:
“When I did the Hudson River Park stretch, I was like, ‘Wow! I covered an entire stretch of Manhattan in 2 hours.’ It’s good exercise, and you’re also traveling and seeing new places at the same time. And, it’s faster than walking around; And, much easier than traveling in subways and taxis.”
Certainly, it takes only a taste to know the goodness of biking. Prachi has shown us that.
What’s missing from a SPOKED game? A few people have been lingering at the bottom of the happiness chart (our leader board). We’re missing their rides. Perhaps the real question is—How do we get the ‘zeros’ to ride their bikes?
Right now, contestants are competing for smiles. One mile equals one smile; Except on super-spoked days (the third consecutive day of riding) when one mile equals two smiles. The good news is that people are riding their bikes, taking advantage of their super-spoked days and pushing each other.
We were hoping that the super-spoked days would level the playing field for the people that aren’t as comfortable on the streets. However, if you aren’t an avid rider and you miss the first three days of riding, there’s no way you’ll catch up to compete. We need incentive for these people too!
So, instead of joining a game to battle on your own, contestants will join a team. Our hypothesis is that a shared goal among a team, will incentivize every contestant to do their part and ride! Contributing to a team effort is better than working to get yourself ahead in the game. It also helps to not alienate the not-so-comfortable riders from the avid riders.
Our goal is to get avid riders to get their friends with dusty bikes to ride. So, back to the main question: How do we get the ‘zeros’ to ride their bikes? I’ve played out a few story scenarios with and without teams in the post: How do we get Wang to ride his bike. Here’s one rather promising one:
It’s a sunny day perfect for riding. The sun beats down on the cobble stone streets of Dumbo. Will Wang ever ride? Mattias rides his bike everyday. Naturally, it makes Wang a little curious. Mattias finds SPOKED and decides to start a game. He invites, rather “summons” Wang into it so that he’ll have an excuse to get on his bike and ride. He can’t say no to helping Mattias beat his friends on the COGS team. Yay! Whoohoo!!
In a few short weeks, we will present our thesis project to a very large crowd of people! We need a story to tell that will compel them to listen to us, whether they love biking, or have no idea what it means to ride a bike. Here’s a second shot at our story:
kb: Do you see this hill?
Of course you understand why I left my bicyle at the bottom.
Hi, I’m Kristin. This was the hill I faced everyday in Oslo before getting home from work.
cs: Hi, I’m Carrie.
My pink bike arrived in New York nearly a year ago. And yes, even though New York is very bike-able, I was terrified when I rode it home from the bike shop in the East Village.
cs: Riding a bike in a city has it’s hurdles. I’m lucky because I’ve had Kristin to dare me to do things, that I once considered crazy… like commute 14 miles every day from brooklyn to manhattan.
kb: I will confess, I have the tendancy to try to get people in on things that I know I can’t do on my own.
cs: and I will naively say yes to any (almost any) challenge
cs: We began on our bikes, simply riding to the coffee shops in our neighborhood that were hard to get to with the subway. But before long, this minor habit became our lifestyle.
kb: Because regardless any hurdle, riding a bike sets me free and fills me with fresh air. It makes me happy.
cs: Being dared to go further, or even just getting a taste of riding a bike, will make you happy! I’ve seen it with my very own eyes, and felt it with my very own emotions.
cs: So, we’ve spent the last 9 months, trying to find ways to get people riding bicycles. Today, we’ll tell you about the service we’ve created to do this: SPOKED.
kb:SPOKED is your way to get your friends and co-workers to feel the happiness from riding a bike. (Because we’re only two people, and want to spread the happiness of biking far and wide.)
More ideas in Story Notes.
Twelve excited interaction design students are ready to get their game on when we launch the very first SPOKED two-week competitive game spree on Monday. Problem is that we lack a few bikes…
Tina (@tinabeans), Benjamin (@bgadbaw), Prachi (@prachipun) and Christine (@cayanna) got totally SPOKED about biking when we announced the launch. They even picked out their color to paint the city streets! Unfortunately they don’t own bikes. Yet. We secretly hope that if they get the taste of the NYC bike life during our two-week game, they’ll be bike-owners in no time, and SPOKED forever.
Can you help them out, so we can get as many wheels rolling as possible? Get in touch with them or us (Carrie and Kristin) if you can!
SPOKED? WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
We honestly believe that people that ride bikes are happier. They are beautiful inside and out, because there’s really no limit to what fresh air can do to a person. This is why we have created SPOKED – a service that helps you build bike cultures among your workplace and friends. Here’s a snapshot of the web interface, and a tiny circle of bike friends:
When you’re playing a SPOKED game, by tracking your rides with a smart phone, you get to make snazzy patterns on a map with the color of your choice. You get to share the patterns and feel the wonderful social pressure by people around you to bike a little more than usual. You’ll also get encouraged in the currency “smiles” to bike consistently, and nudged on twitter when your bike is calling for you to get on the streets. Most importantly, you get to take part of a little two week adventure that just might change your lifestyle forever!
Follow us @iamspoked!
We’re using the most amazing organization and collaboration tool, Trello. Totally addictive. So very satisfying to move the cards from To do to Doing to Done. And I think it’s even moving us forward in our process. So that’s good.
One would think that when we’re that deep into code, there’s no turning back. But there is. Sometimes, when new features add complexity, we need to use paper and yarn to make sense of it all. Does it make sense now? We hope so. Cause we’re launching a prototype test very, very soon.
We have come to a point of needing to clarify what we’re making and how it’s achieving our goal. After having spent months in developing the minimal features, we have an MVP that could be framed in multiple different ways.
From research and conversations with bikers, we know that most people start to get into the habit of biking under some kind of social pressure either from a friend, co-worker or culture of a place. For example:
Mark joined the taco tour as an excuse to get back on his bike again after falling out of habit.
Julie bought a bike when she moved to a neighborhood where a lot of people ride bikes.
Our goal is to help busy people get into the habit of riding for transportation. Why? Because we believe that biking brings joy to your life!
Our intention is to create a social event that gives people an excuse to ride and pushes them to dare to go further than usual. Competition, recognition and contribution to a communal goal will push people. Thus, SPOKED is a service for people to self-organize competitive spurts of biking so that they can push themselves and each other to ride more than usual for a constrained 2-week period of time. Our audience includes avid bikers, casual bikers, and dusty bike owners.
We believe that it’s not necessarily about miles, but the pure act of getting on a bike over and over that will get people into the habit. Practice makes perfect.
Goal: Our goal is to get people excited and curious about biking, and to provide a way for people to encourage each other to use their bike more for getting around the city.
Rationale: We will achieve this by giving the user voluntary challenges (initiated by self, friends or their workplace) to push themselves to bike more as well as recruit others to get on their bikes. We are providing consistent feedback on their progress, and enhancing the in-ride experience.
Our prototype is coming along, and we’ve showed it to a few people lately. Faculty members Paul Pangaro, Frank Chimero and Amit Pitaru along with our fellow classmates gave us a lot of valuable feedback. They made it clear to us that while it’s cool that we have this prototype, it needs to have a distinct world view. What do we want people to do with it? Bike more? Bike different? Discover new places? Bike together? Just draw patterns?
As our thesis advisor, Willy Wong, said: “So, you’ve made a bike pen…” He then suggested that we should just get it out there, see who uses it, how, and so on. We definitely want to get it out there, and we will! But we still felt there was this missing part, and had a longer brainstorm whiteboard session to find our world view:
The image displays our possible directions when we try to go from Bike Pen to something more:
- to get poster and/or become elite etc
- minimum 200 miles unlocks …
- visit all hoods unlocks …
- number of consecutive days riding unlocks …
- advocate biking
- nurture community
- nudge laxy people
- outsource to local experts
- share on facebook/twitter
- storytelling (photos, notes, places). Twitter/Facebook
- constrained time
- versus people
- currency: miles or hoods or number of recruits
- bike habit insights
(weather, frequency, night vs day, hoods)
- take new routes
- discover more of the city
(number of hoods, place suggestions by friends/SPOKED, info about hoods)
- group rides
- share data with city to inform
- air in tires
- change chain
- change tires
based on mileage, season, time
- bike personification
We’ve been struggling with what it is that makes people keep coming back to our product. And so, Liz shared with us Joshua Porter’s article on Designing for the Social Web: the Usage Lifecycle.