Can we borrow bikes, please?!

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!

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!

Here’s most of the SVA IxD SPOKED team just after they got their color, prepared to bike and collect the most “smiles” starting Monday (3/26):

Follow us @iamspoked!

Target Audience

We took a good look at all the wonderful #BikeNYC portraits by Dmitry Gudkov. Then we tried to guess who is likely to use our product. This is plainly based on this one small paper version of a portrait photo, silly stereotyping, and us imagining what kind of person this possibly could be. We even made up stories of some in order to place them right on our sliding scale. “Would this person have a smart phone?”, “Does this person even care about tracking?”, “Is this person too hip, too old, too busy, too …?”. It’s far from scientific, but it definitely helped us thinking of who will be key users of the Paint Your City platform.

By the way, this is true for all the photos except one, as we actually met the amazing Julie (blogger and commuter on a Linus) on the Tour de Taco last year. You might notice that we secretly hope she will be painting her city from her bike :) Click on the image below to see all portraits placed on the axis of most to least likely to use our service.

Behavior Change and Motivation

Changes are hard to make. Whether it’s changing your diet or turning your transit mode from the subway to biking, we as humans we need other people to hold us accountable and help us adjust to new habits. That’s why behavior change comes best through the support of community. On the last jaunt with strangers that ride bikes, Tour de Taco, this is something that I learned, again. While each biker was on the group ride for various reasons, some were there to get back into biking. I talked with two specific bikers that previously pedaled to work, but had stopped, for their own respectable reasons. They both confessed, in their own words, that they came to get their butts on their bikes again. Basically, they forced themselves to be surrounded by a lot of people doing the very thing they wanted to be doing.

We previously launched the King of Two Wheels. We’re challenging four contestants within a community of 30 SVA IxD grad students to bike more than usual for one week, track their miles on a shared map, discover new parts of the city and to recruit others to join them. The King of Two Wheels will be our first experiment with learning how people are motivated to ride. Through it, we hope to get people talking about and doing more biking, while gaining insights into their habits, tips and tricks, and motivations.

We put out eight challenges within the week of the contest. Along with these, we had multiple strategies to get them motivated and biking more:

Map rides on a shared map to document progress and compare achievements.

Prompt riders to recruit friends to get the community involved organically.

Invite riders to get a team mate for the day.

Invite the community to bet on their chosen contestant to win

…and using the bets as a visual bar chart display in a common area.

Honor a challenge winner every day.

Bike Sharing for NYC

Bike sharing is coming to the Big Apple, and New Yorkers are excited! This is not completely fresh news, but is still very exciting. The other weekend, Kristin and I went to check out the system. Alta, the company that will be installing and managing the bike share, and the New York Department of Transportation were hosting a live demo on Atlantic street. For less than $100, you can become a member and use the shared bikes at no charge all year around. Ride times will be limited to 30-45 minutes to encourage short commutes rather than using the bike to the explore the city all day. The city aims to co-exist with the thriving bike rental businesses that are currently in New York, rather than overriding them. In my opinion, the system seems quite impressive. It’s been rolled out in multiple cities including Boston, DC and Melbourne, and for the most part has been a success.

But, we had two main questions. What about the helmets? And, what are you doing to help guide people that don’t normally bike around the city? Our reason for asking these questions is because we’re exploring a helmet as the physical interface with a digital bike companion. With that, one of our main intentions is to help people better discover the cities in which they live via bike.

Because New York does not mandate bicycle helmets, the bike share system will not require riders to wear them. Though, they may offer some kind of discount to help people purchase their own helmets. As for helping riders find their way around the city, each docking station will have a cycling map posted.

Undoubtedly, potential lies in considering a product that can be used by bike sharers (New Yorkers and tourists) and regular commuters alike. There is yet to come a good solution for helmets and guiding discovery within the current bike share systems.

Let’s make bike friends

Kristin and I are now official members of the NYC Bike Tech Meetup and avid followers of the Brooklyn By Bike blog. On Tuesday, October 4th we will be competing for $50 at Red Latern Bicycles by attempting to make clever and original reviews of various bike-related cafes and restaurants on Google Places. And, on Sunday, October 9th, you can find us at Grand Army Plaza beginning the El Tour de Taco.




Yes, me made friends!