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CYCLE COLUMBUS - cycling, education, strategy

Cycle Columbus


Short description:

Cycle Columbus is a biking education system that involves the city, school and families and connects all of these segments to properly teach kids about biking in the city of Columbus, Ohio. I spent the first weeks researching biking in Copenhagen, Denmark and then finishing the research in Columbus. The final solution is a step by step proposal for all of the actors including designed touchpoints for these steps.

The main problem

The biking situation in Columbus, Ohio is improving on the infrastructural side, but people still do not use their bikes as a form of transportation on a daily basis.

During my analysis of my findings I found out that the main problem is that people do not have enough information and education about how to bike, what are the rules, or how to behave around bikers. This leads to people being scared of even trying to bike in the first place.


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Main focus:

Creating an educational system focusing on kids


Why kids?

1. Kids are the future drivers/bikers and we need to teach them to be responsible from a young age

2. Biking is an activity that helps with reducing childhood obesity which leads to a happier and healthier lifestyle.

3. Biking has a positive effect on learning abilities.

Who is involved?

The service “Cycle Columbus”

The main principle of the system is that the city plays the biggest part of the system. Everything that the city does influences straightly the parents and schools. The main segment of the actual learning is the parents segment. (After talking to representatives of "The Department of Transportation in Columbus, Ohio" I found out that schools do not have enough budget to have biking education.

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The toolkit



The first part of the toolkit is a handbook for the parents or the family of the young biker. 

This book is designed to be a step-by-step guide for the easiest biking education implementation. The guide starts with only walking and teaching the kids to pay attention. It continues with preparation for biking, handling different biking situations, signs, etc. After that, when the parents start to bike with their kids, they move onto the section with games. 

After the parents and kids complete the book, the kids will be ready for street biking.

examples of some of the pages of the book




The second part of the toolkit is a children’s book for the young biker.

This book is designed to have a story with a big hero, who is using bike to save other characters. It shows the child that biking can be useful and lead to making friends.

examples of the pages of the book and the story

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The traffic playground

Traffic Playground is a specially designed space that helps kids with the basic traffic situations and is the best ground for the first introduction to biking. This space is safe and kids should feel like they can make mistakes in the beginning. 

The park is designed to accommodate four categories of biking situations, but is made to adapt when needed. As a whole, the playground and its surroundings are divided into four main zones to help kids learn about these situations.

The main organiser of the events held in the park is the city, but the organisation responsible for building and maintaining is a Recreations and Parks Department. Additionally, the city can provide bicycles for kids to rent during open hours.

Photos of the mock up of the playground.


The traffic playground

A big part of the overall system is biking classes that are provided to the general public by the city of Columbus. There are two main types of classes:

1. Classes in traffic playgrounds (provided for parents that are not comfortable with guiding their kids through the book, for families that want to have extra practice, or for parents that just need to rent a bike for their kids)

2. Classes around schools (Creating events where kids are educated about traffic situations, laws, signs, etc. Kids can paint signs and then use them in their own traffic playground at their school. These playgrounds will stay at school for use in the future).

The test “the motivator”

The last part of the overall system is the biking test. I call this test “the motivator”, because it is supposed to motivate parents and kids to go through all of the materials with their kids. The test is given through the city, schools and mainly with the police department, because of its role in enforcing safe biking around the city.

The test has two parts.

1. Riding part (which that takes place in the traffic playground, and an actual city streets)

2. Theoretical part (preparation for this can be found in the handbook)


How did I get there?

1. Research

Primary research

Secondary research

Qualitative Research / Journal studies 

While in Denmark I collected diary studies from 6 users. The journals were designed to collect in depth information about participant’s daily biking experience, their relationship to biking, how learned about biking, etc. Participants spent 3 - 4 days with these journals.


Quantitative Research / Survey 

To gain more information about biking attitudes in Columbus, Ohio I created a survey. This method was the best to gain as much information as possible. I collected results from 76 people in different age groups (from 19 years old to 60 years old).

I went though all the possible information about biking in Denmark and Columbus, Ohio. Columbus was undergoing big changes and I wanted to get as much information as possible about the future plans.

I also watched many documentaries about urban planning, biking revolution, read books about cities of the future, and biking manuals.This method built up on the data I gathered from my primary research. 


2. Analysis

After discovery I started with in-depth analysis. I looked for patterns and found three main areas of opportunity: 

1. biking thinking
2. biking education
3. lifestyle

While working with the three areas I created a set of insights in each of them. Each insight included a description and a “What does this mean for the city?” section. This step was important for the next phase of further solution development.

(example of insights)

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3. Defining the problem

Analysing the current biking situation in Columbus, Ohio and getting deeper into the problem and defining the final problem and what primary I am working with.


4. Concept development and testing

After defining the problem and deciding on a service I went to project development and testing parts of the system with users.


Personal reflections

Complex System Thinking - I really enjoyed working on a project that takes a whole system and makes it better. Creating complex systems is much needed in this time and I cannot wait to do more on this topic.

Implementing actual solution into a system - Majority of my work usually ends by creating recommendations and scenarios. It was a great change to actually implement my solution into the system.

Books design & copywriting - I spent a long time on making books for this project, I went through multiple test books, prototypes, which actually only helped me in the end to create the final result.