SAN FRANCISCO BICYCLE COALITION
UX DESIGN / UI DESIGN / RESEARCH
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) is one of the largest and most effective bicycle advocacy groups in the country. For over 40 years, the coalition has been transforming San Francisco into a bicycle-friendly city by advocating for safer streets and promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation. The SFBC operates through a combination of street campaigns, political endorsements, and bicycle education classes.
Working on a team with two other UX Designers, my role on this project was to research and synthesize our data into actionable insights. I was also responsible for designing the wireframes and mockups that would eventually inform our team's high-fidelity prototype for an iOS mobile app.
Increasing engagement amongst members
The SFBC was looking for a way to engage their members more frequently and give them a sense of active contribution to the larger goals of the coalition.
With over 10,000+ members, the SFBC proved to be successful in acquiring members — however, after paying the $35 annual membership fee, 90% of SFBC members did not attend any volunteer events or other SFBC activities.
Making the unfamiliar feel familiar
We discovered that SFBC members' biggest pain point was feeling unsafe when biking in new and unfamiliar areas of San Francisco.
By creating a mobile app where members could share and discover routes amongst each other, members would become active contributors to the larger goals of the SFBC — to promote bicycle safety and increase ridership across San Francisco.
Only 10% of members attended smaller events
We kicked this project off by first wanting to understand how members were currently engaging with the SFBC. By paying a visit to their headquarters, we were able to speak with Susan, the SFBC's event planner.
We learned from Susan that:
• The SFBC consisted of approximately 10,000+ members
• Only around 10% of members attended smaller volunteer events
• Members were more interested in attending large social events
• Most members engaged by only paying the annual membership fee
Although Susan provided us with invaluable insight into how members engaged with the SFBC, we wanted to observe and speak with members ourselves.
We attended a volunteer night and interviewed four members asking why they chose to attend the event. We discovered that 3 out of 4 members volunteered mainly for social reasons — they were new San Francisco residents that wanted to meet and socialize with other SFBC members.
After an extensive evaluation period of our data, we came to realize that these SFBC members were not the ones we wanted to specifically speak with. Although it was a good starting point, we ultimately wanted to design our solution towards the 90% of members that were unengaged with the SFBC and not attending these events.
Where could we find the 90% of unengaged members?
Our team was left with a paradoxical conundrum — although we wanted to interview unengaged SFBC members, if none of them were attending SFBC events, how could we find them?
We decided to cast a wide net and began interviewing every bicyclist we could find in San Francisco — with the amount of members in the SFBC, we knew we had a good chance of running into at least a few of them.
USER INTERVIEW TAKEAWAYS
We interviewed 11 San Francisco bicyclists — four of which happened to be unengaged SFBC members. We learned that:
• 75% of unengaged SFBC members didn't attend events because they were too busy
• 100% of San Francisco bicyclists expressed concerns about their safety while riding
• 82% of San Francisco bicyclists felt unsafe when biking in a new area
Claire, one of the bicyclists we interviewed, explained to us that although she felt hesitant when biking in a new area of San Francisco, her comfort and safety level increased as she became more familiar with the area.
Bikers were very concerned about their safety
The biggest takeaway we learned from our interviews was that San Francisco bikers were very concerned about their safety while riding in the city. There were a multitude of hazards they had to worry about such as double parking, Lyft / Uber pickups, and areas with high pedestrian traffic. By gaining this insight, we asked ourselves some questions:
• Would it be possible to engage SFBC members more if we created a solution that solved a legitimate problem for them?
• By creating a platform where SFBC members could communicate and share information regarding certain routes, would it mitigate that unfamiliar feeling for bikers that were riding in a new area?
Recording and sharing routes
We created a process flow chart where SFBC members would be able to navigate through an area based upon the recorded data of other SFBC members' bike routes. The data would be sourced from members that chose to record and share their routes by submitting them to the SFBC.
Bikers were hesitant to trust the route
We conducted our usability testing sessions with nine San Francisco bikers. Although they all seemed to get through each one of the flows comfortably, they were rather hesitant to trust the route they were given, as they didn't know where it was being sourced from or who was contributing to them.
When an SFBC member inputs their destination, a route will appear — this route will be optimized by sourcing the data collected from SFBC members to create a Frankenstein-esque route. Since transparency was something heavily emphasized through our usability testing sessions, SFBC members will be able to see and read about who these contributing members are and what they've said about the area.
Regarding the navigation screen, we wanted to create something simple and large with very little detail to keep bikers from being distracted. Utilizing the compass feature on the iPhone, the app will feature a central rotating arrow that navigates the biker around the city.
If an SFBC member chooses to contribute their route(s) to the SFBC, they will be able to access the recording feature on the bottom tab bar of the screen. After completing a recording, members will be able to see their location, distance, and time before submitting. They also have the option to view a breakdown of their ride by simply sliding up the pull tab.
Most of our design was influenced by a combination of existing navigation apps, such as Apple Maps, Google Maps, and Waze. We did this intentionally so users would already have an intuitive sense regarding the basic functionality of the app.
Carrying over this same ideology, we wanted to integrate features on the app that were similar to Strava — a mobile app used to track athletic activity via GPS. 60-70% of bikers we interviewed all mentioned they used Strava regularly. By having statistics, records, and merits featured on the profile page as Strava does, the SFBC app would produce a familiar type of feeling and flow that bikers are accustomed to.
A small piece of the right solution is always better...
Our team's process felt genuine and organic throughout this entire two-week sprint. We marinated in the problem for a while before we jumped to any rash assumptions and we were patient in discovering the problem instead of chasing after it.
I appreciated how our team went into this project with a determined, yet humble and open-minded approach. We were constantly looking to delve deeper and soak up as much information as we could about the SFBC and their members. As we traveled down the rabbit hole, it felt like we were truly headed in a direction to solve something real instead of rushing into a cheap band-aid fix. A small piece of the right solution is always better than a whole lot of the wrong one.