Baltimore Bike Share: User & System Research

How might the Baltimore Bike Share promote equity, inclusiveness, and accessibility by engaging users across all demographics?

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Project in a Nutshell
Discovering how users across different demographics interact with the service to build a bike share system that promotes equity, inclusiveness, and accessibility.

img_3776Summary
As a new service for the city Baltimore Bike Share didn’t yet know who was using their bikes, and the type of experience they were having with the service. Baltimore Bike Share, as an initiative of MTA, was designed to increase equity in the public transportation system, yet some complained that the design and location of bike stations was only serving wealthier users. Prior to finalizing the plans for the rollout of the next 25 bike stations, MTA asked my classmates and I to help them understand who, how, and when Baltimoreans were or were not accessing this new service.

Project Team
Partner Maryland Transit Administration and their Baltimore Bike Share Division, Matt Barr, Denise Brown,Patricia Natalie, Molly Reddy, faculty Lee Davis, Thomas Gardner, Mike Weikert, and Mike Youngblood.

Research
Participatory Observation: Each member of our team took time to visit a kiosk, check out a bike, and spend time riding in order build empathy with the user. All the while, taking notes.

Intercept Interviews conducted near bike stations: we created interview scripts for interviewees who had never used Baltimore Bike Share before, and those who had. Because BBS had only recently launched the majority of our intercept interviewees fell into this category and were interviewed as they passed by a bike station.

img_3985User Observations: In addition to conducting intercept interviews we also observed people interacting with the bikes and the checkout system for the first time. At each station we created a visual diagram of the setup and condition of the bikes, as well as the visual information at the stations.

Based upon who we spoke with and the users we saw interact with the stations we synthesized our user research into three categories. First was user demographics – age, race, and other categories that would identify the types of people near the stations or using the bikes. Next, we used interview responses to develop personas and journey maps. Third, our observational research detailed insights into how the station and bikes are set-up and how that put users at an advantage or disadvantage when engaging with the service.

img_3982Insights

  • Despite strong interest in the bikes from people passing by the bike stations, the design, presentation, and accessibility of information made riding a bike on a user’s first try difficult.
  • Accessibility measures and supports, such as the cash payment option, were attractive to a broad audience of people, such as tourists and single-time users.
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First draft sketch of the journey map I did to lay out important content.

 

  • bbsjourneymap

    Final research synthesis artifact, graphic design by Denise Brown.

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