Encouraging Everyday Cycling: A Phenomenological Journey
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This thesis addresses the question: How can a phenomenological design approach help better understand and encourage everyday urban cycling for non-active cyclists? Cycling is a popular pursuit, yet cycling in an urban environment can be perceived by non-active cyclists as too intimidating to do with any regularity. To them, the perceived barriers and challenges tend to outweigh the motivations despite cycling being an enjoyable experience. The aim of this project was to understand the motivations and perceptions of non-active cyclists towards urban cycling, and explore how these insights may be leveraged to ideate relevant creative interventions that may influence the riding experience. Adopting a phenomenological, human-centred design approach, this research explored how people experience cycling, through observations and interviews with non-active cyclists. Insights gained from the phenomenological research showed that the embodied experience of cycling positively influenced non-active cyclists’ perceptions and attitudes. Design principles were developed, and one identified pathway was to address feelings of exposure and vulnerability experienced by the non-active cyclist, particularly in relation to other road users. This was distilled down to an experience that embodied the physical act of cycling – within the urban environment, but with the imminent threat of live traffic eliminated. This led to the ideation of a 360° virtual ride, using real video footage, as a strategy to retain the embodiment without the danger. Separating out the familiarisation of the route and embodied experience of cycling from any external physical traffic removes one of the main barriers identified through the design process. This shows promising potential for non-active cyclists to experience the urban environment as if they were in the space, without being exposed to the physical dangers and uncertainty of traffic, and can contribute to non-active cyclists becoming more likely to engage in everyday cycling.