Entropy MAB2012

October 2, 2012 at 6:34pm
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User Interviews (NOW with interview summaries!)

First User Interview: Rick from Cheeky Transport

Rick

  • Rick works in a successful, well-respected bicycle shop in the suburb of Newtown, considered Sydney’s “Inner West”, and lives two suburbs away.
  • Bicyclists are perceived quite poorly on the roads of Sydney — considered “bottom of the food chain”
  • The infrastructure in Sydney for bicycles has definitely improved since the “cycle strategy action plan” has begun implementation, but there is still room for improvement.
  • Rick is confident in riding in Sydney traffic, however his wife has a “confidence issue” with the dangers involved.

  • Rick says that one of the major problems regarding the perception of bicycle culture in Sydney is that “most bikes are regarded as toys”, as in, they are not taken seriously as a valid form of vehicle transport. Rick says that the Sydney bike industry can be partly to blame for this, as they provide only two major types of categories for prospecting bicycle buyers: racing bikes, or mountain bikes. Many customers to the shop are looking for neither of these but rather a transport bike, a bike to be used to get around the city. He suggests that if the industry smartens up and offers transport cycling as a prominent trade category, then that would further help bicycles reach their full potential of perceptually valid transport vehicles.

  • Rick mentioned Holland’s decision in the 60s to turn itself into a “cycling utopia”, which has made it one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the world today. According to Rick, the cycle-friendlyness of the city “didn’t just happen, it required thoughtful planning”.

User Interview 2: Ingrid, a visiting PhD candidate from Austria. Originally from Italy.

  • Ingrid has lived in various parts of Europe for most of her life, growing up in such bicycle friendly cities and has been in Sydney for less than 1 year.
  • People ride much more often in Austria (overseas)
  • Only a few bicycle lanes in Sydney - not useful for travelling A to B
    • Also not on important streets (George…)
  • if riding on George St. she said she would fear for her life.
    • Also doesn’t want to think about riding on Parramatta / Victoria Rd.
  • “Austria has a better cycling network”

  • Drivers in Sydney still aren’t used to cyclists on the road.
  • Comments about bike network
    • need to improve so it exists where its actually necessary
    • bike lanes aren’t direct.
  • Personal experience with cars
    • annoyed drivers who don’t realise it’s the only route cyclists (she) can take.
    • hasn’t come across aggressive drivers as such but it’s never ‘personal’
  • Ingrid says if more people started cycling then drivers would be subconsciously aware.

Ingrid’s bike!


User Interview 3: Christian, who has ridden bicycles extensively in Holland, Netherlands. Rides to University every day from his home.

Christian

  • Has ridden extensively in The Netherlands, Holland and Amsterdam.
  • Christian finds the mentality towards people who ride bikes in Sydney peculiar. In Holland, it is strange if you can cycle to work but choose not to; in Sydney, it is strange if you cycle to work but can choose not to! This relates to Sydney culture not accommodating for bike culture as a credible form of transport. Rick had similar concerns.
  • But Christian acknowledges that this may be because of a number of reasons, such as the urban sprawl of Sydney compared to Holland; the population density; the number of lanes and denser traffic in Sydney; and the flatland of Holland, compared to the “exhausting” hill landscape of Sydney.
  • “In Sydney, you must be quite motivated to ride”.
  • “Sydney can be quite dangerous to ride on main streets”
  • Christian feels that the idea of taking up cycling because it is good for the environment is “rubbish”. As in, people don’t take up cycling for that reason, even if it is sometimes marketed that way,
  • Christian had a really interesting story to tell regarding an attitude towards bicycle riders by constructions workers. Christian recalled riding home one night where an enormous obstacle had been put in the way of the bike path. The obstacle was unlit and very hard to see. There was a warning sign for the obstacle, however it was directed at passing cars, not bicyclists on the bike path! Even worse, the obstacle proved to be of no concern to cars, who with their headlights, were able to see the obstacle when they approached anyway.

Impromptu group discussion

  • A car driver in the discussion was particularly hostile towards cyclists on Sydney roads. “Get rid of them, get them off the road! Or give them more bike lanes” was her suggestion. But what do you think of pedestrians? We asked. “Pedestrians are annoying too!”
  • Another member of the discussion mentioned the petition that has circulated around Sydney which calls for all cyclists to have number plates attached, expressing his anger at cyclists avoiding road rules and being able to get away with it.

The data and the reward!