We were tasked in RED Academy to deliver an digital product that could make a positive difference to mobility issues in the city of Toronto within 3 months. When we started the course, RED proposed a process similar to a Design Sprint to come up with tons of ideas in one contained day-long session. Then I drilled in on the one big idea that would showcase mobility issues and cyclist safety.
Fact 1: The number of people using their bicycles as a way of sustainable and environmentally friendly transport in Toronto’s network has been progressively growing. This culture strengthen everyday, meanwhile other alternatives such as vehicles or Public transport are less attractive.
Fact 2: A bicycle is the smallest vehicle inside the transport network. It is important, therefore, taking care of their rights and legislations. The bikers need to feel safe, be visible, ride predictably, know how traffic works, and be protected in order to maintain this exponential growth. Another critical thing is the amount of accidents and robberies, specially in crowded areas.
How we can help cyclists feel more safe in Toronto through design?
In the discovery phase I was made a comparative analysis, and finding user needs, behaviours and pain‐points. My foreign status in the city was actually helpful to contact with stakeholders. I took extra careful of cultural considerations for the process.
Government and groups has a number of on-going safety campaigns (like CAN-Bike program) to encourage awareness of cycling safety issues and offer basic insurance packages, I think this is definitely not enough.
I structured and shipped later surveys and interviews, in where I tried to focus on answering these questions:
– Can you tell me more about your last experience with your bike in the city?
– Can you tell me about the last time (if ever) you felt unsafe or safe moving with your bike in the city?
– What do you think is the biggest issue for bikers in Toronto? Why?
One typical answer was: “I have had a lot of close encounters with cars when drivers aren’t paying attention. On the way home I have to cross quite a scary section of Dundas St West up a hill from Lansdowne. I hate this short section as cars often don’t look and come very close to you as they are turning left nearly hitting you. I nearly got hit about two weeks ago.”
After this research and find many patterns, having pain-points and likes, I chose to generate two personas, to be used as guidelines for the overall design of Safebiker.
I found in this research that some bike riders were willing to help new users and also wanted to educate them to make them better cyclists. But also that they find useful the option to have experts behind a company or group that can help them in case of an unexpected event.
Usually they have good experiences, but all of them have been on a difficult situation or victims from a bad driver. They are almost all agree that biggest issue are drivers and safety, mostly because is a big crowded city, and angry drivers are all around. More than half use bike as a recreational purpose, specially women. They are all agree that respect for bike lanes and bikers in general is growing.
In that moment I realize how hard it is to claim for rights and feel safe when we are sharing roads with drivers. So I felt that the solutions was getting closer, first was an insurance service, but I saw that some solutions were not fulfilled. I worked closely with the rest of the class/team at the Academy to get the final idea, creating a company or volunteer group that through an app allows user to ask immediate help if they have an accident. Also get updated content in about legislations and news about bike safety in Toronto, with the ability to emphasize particular posts and connect individual pieces of content in chat. The result was a vision for Safebiker App which improves the feeling when you are using your bike on the streets.
Pulling together what I’ve learned, I decide to create an user journey, also a complete scenario, define tasks and mindsets to document the issues and goals.
On approaching to discovery, it was important for us to gain a better understanding of Toronto’s biking community and urban biking attitude in general to build a solid foundation from which we could launch a right solution. So, me and my girl bought two bikes in a store and get immersed ourselves in lanes and streets, gave us qualitative information that helped us gain knowledge.
After the research I was able to confidently move into creating the MVP and validate features of the solution. I define the functionality and information architecture based based on what’s important to users.
Then it was time to start sketching. I came up with several potential solutions to each of the pain points and made some rough UI sketches. I did some preliminary validation on the low fidelity sketches with a paper prototyping (using Marvel) and used all the feedbacks to refine and narrow down my solutions in order to get the final Wireframes.
One of the many challenges was designing an interface that allowed Jake or Sue to find a “Keeper” (the name we put to the helpers behind the phone) and at the same time track everything around them. We initially started sketching a bunch of different ways to display a camera with a chat or a voice call. The difficulty is in the fact that we don’t display this to keeper for privacy reasons until an agreement is made by the user.
The usability and interface of the app was created to be easy to use, with a familiar feeling in every screen, specially in the emergency call functionality. The onboarding was crafted to show hierarchy and readability.
The user in case of an emergency can have a conversation, or chat with someone and be able to send images or videos to the “Keeper” in the other line. This feature improves the communication and save useful data in case of a future claim.
Lower menu was designed as apple guidelines recommends, and a second version for android was also created with side menu. The aesthetic was flattish and contrasted. I aslo create a branding in order to give trust and more friendly look to the prototypes.
In order to release a succesful usability test and try out the idea with stakeholders, it needs to get a sense of how the final product feels, so I created a working prototype with animations and interactions and iterate on feedback.
The keynote was presented in the Academy and was approved by tutors.