Guest Post – Sensibel: What’s your experience of cycling?

Hamish McNair tells us about an interesting project that you can be part of:

Sensibel promotes more efficient communication between you (the user) and decision makers responsible for cycle infrastructure. This is achieved by giving people who cycle the opportunity to record their day-to-day experiences. These insights show how design decisions are actually performing in the real world. By providing both positive and negative feedback – what you like and what you don’t – efforts can be focused on producing more of what works and improving under-performing features.

You can participate by recording points – indicating where you’ve had a positive or negative experience – as you ride. At the end of your journey you can also add a comment that provides more detail about what it was that you liked or disliked. The Sensibel button attaches to your handlebars and syncs to your phone via Bluetooth. This allows you to generate points without taking your hands off the handlebars, while the GPS in your phone records your location. The associated website displays your points on a map so you can add comments at a time that is convenient for you.

The Sensibel button-app combo – recording sentiment on the go.

Aggregating these individual experiences creates a data-set that offers a unique perspective on how cycle infrastructure is performing. Initially this will identify the individual features that are performing well and those that require improvement. However, as people contribute over an extended period of time the longitudinal nature of this information will help measure the effectiveness of broader strategies that relate to cycling. Also, collecting a national data-set will allow everyone to benefit from what is learnt – reducing the likelihood of similar mistakes being repeated throughout the country.

Preliminary testing has already produced some interesting results. For example, people like the safety and ease-of-use that cycle-specific infrastructure promotes – such as the crossings being incorporated into new cycleways. However, concerns have also been raised about how quickly these features now allow cyclists get around and the potential for collisions this produces when sharing routes with pedestrians or navigating obstacles such as blind corners.

Sample findings: A preliminary finding from Christchurch indicates that people like the safety and ease-of-use cycleways provide, but are also concerned at how the free flowing bicycle traffic they promote can be a danger in the presence of pedestrians or obstacles (like blind corners).

We are now looking for people to help test Sensibel and produce a data-set that is representative of more people’s experience of cycling. This will allow us to develop methods of analysis that support more efficient use of this feedback and better contribute to the continued improvement of cycling in New Zealand.

There are test days planned for Christchurch, Wellington, and Auckland that will provide you the opportunity to try out the system and contribute your experiences. For the Christchurch event (this Sat August 11th from 10am) please visit the Facebook event page. Or email Hamish for information about any of the test events or if you would like to know more about Sensibel in general.

What do you think of the Sensibel bell & app?

3 thoughts on “Guest Post – Sensibel: What’s your experience of cycling?”

  1. I’ve got the handlebar button and it seems to work fine for me.

    There are two parts to it… First is getting data in a useful and reliable way. The sensibel button works just like opening the phone and placing a Point Of Interest on your path via the application, but its more convenient to use the button while riding. Then you can go back into the website later and add words, swap good/bad etc.

    The second part is processing that collective corpus of information. The collective POIs of hundreds and thousands of trips from different riders will paint a more useful picture over time.

    You need a smartphone, with bluetooth if you want to use the handlebar button. Works on android and apple devices, and is relatively straightforward to use. Its a work-in-progress, and progress is happening.

    If you ride a variety of routes, and you have a smartphone then contributing some rides to this project is easy.

  2. Hi Hamish,
    I’m interested in bring involved with this. I commute between 100 and 135km a week, and ride around 10,000km a. Year.

    Cheers,
    Gary.

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