We Bike prototype

Last week I participated in the Velopolis 2025: How mobile are urban societies in the future? workshop at Vienna’s MAK museum. The workshop was sponsored by the MAK and Vienna’s Departure Program. It was led by Sandra Y. Richter from the MIT Media Lab. On the first day we focused on developing scenarios for the future of urban bike transport. It was a fun and interesting way to think about the future in a structured way.

On Friday we broke into three groups and developed bike products for the future. Our group decided to develop a sort of social network for bicyclists called “We Bike”. The idea was to develop some sorts of clothing or patches that people could wear to show that they were open to being approached – in the real world – for conversation and potentially to serve as tour guides to their city. The idea also included apps and new media, but the main idea was focusing on real world connections. The video we developed is at the top of the post. (Our group: Corinna Danninger, Manuel Weilguny, Oskar V. Hanstein and me.)

The other two groups focused on developing products. One developed a cool picnic basket/seat/cargo container and the other developed a concept for using compressed air to keep you dry when riding in the rain … I wish I had that for my ride today.

It was a neat event both because we worked on bicycle ideas and because we learned some of the prototyping techniques used at the MIT Media Lab.

Vienna public involvement in transport app development

Meine Radspur Application Vienna Austria

meine-radspur is a GIS app developed in Vienna that tracks the routes used by bicyclists. Riders can indicate hazards and places that need improvements later.

I’m organising a roundtable discussion on using social applications (social networks, crowd sourced reporting, online games, wikis, and other tools) for helping improve sustainable transport.

We’ll start by identifying existing applications and then brainstorm ideas for Vienna (and beyond). If there’s interest we’ll organise a group to develop a real application or two. If you have questions or good examples to include in the presentation please contact me (andy@andynash.com).

When: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 … 18:30 – 20:30
Where: The Impact HUB Vienna, Lindengasse 56, 1070 Vienna

Please register here (free): https://sustainabletransportslot.eventbrite.com/

Good biking requires good traffic engineering

The intersection of Maria-Theresien-Strasse and Franz-Josefs-Quai in Vienna is a good example of where the streets prioritise movement of automobiles over pedestrians and bikes.

The intersection of Maria-Theresien-Strasse and Franz-Josefs-Quai in Vienna is a good example of where the streets prioritise movement of automobiles over pedestrians and bikes.

Vienna’s working hard on making the city better for biking and walking, but it’s a difficult job. There are many places, like the intersection above, where the streets and traffic signals have been designed to move traffic, bikes and pedestrians are accommodated, but not a priority. This is a situation that needs to change if the city is to be successful at making transport more sustainable and the city more liveable.

Many streets and intersections in Vienna need to be rebuilt to improve conditions for pedestrians and bikes – but this often comes at the expense of automobile traffic. That’s too bad, but the priority today must be given to pedestrians and bikes if we are to create more sustainable cities. And, the evidence from many cities is that reducing automobile traffic doesn’t hurt the economy, in fact building better bike lanes and sidewalks can actually increase business.

Making these kinds of improvements requires two things: desire and design. City transport departments must want to go from moving cars to moving people and they need good designers who understand the fine points of traffic engineering. The intersection shown above is a good example: it’s a very complicated intersection: two very busy one-way streets with a two-way tram line turning across the intersection. The traffic engineers have done a good job for cars and trams, but it’s not so good for bikes and pedestrians who have to cross between several islands with different traffic signals. Also important to note is that the intersection is on path between the Ringstrasse bike lane and the Donau Canal bike lane, so its used by many bikers.

It’s a complex problem that can’t be easily solved. But improving these types of intersections to be more bike-friendly will be critical if Vienna is to meet its goal of increasing bike use.

Salzburg railway station roof

Salzburg Hauptbahnhof old and new roof with winged design sculpture (May 2013).

Salzburg Hauptbahnhof old and new roof with winged design sculpture (May 2013).

They have been rebuilding the Salzburg Hauptbahnhof seemingly forever, but making progress. Here’s a photo of the old roof structure, renovated, and protected by the new, longer roof.

I love the traditional design found on many stations and railway logo designs that makes use of the winged something (often it’s a wheel). There’s one visible here at the top of the old roof.

Also visible in the photo is the rail above the tracks for providing electricity to the trains. It probably was necessary to use a rail in the renovated station because the electric catenary wire would have been too high.

Proposed structure for understanding interactive city tools

Nash-Interactive City Tool Structure

I’ve just finished preparing a paper titled A Proposed Structure for Understanding Interactive City Tools for the upcoming TU Delft conference: Using ICT, Social Media and Mobile Technologies to Foster Self-Organisation in Urban and Neighbourhood Governance.

The paper turned out to be much harder than I thought to write because I kept getting different ideas on how to organize the different interactive city tools … by the way, I borrowed the name “Interactive City Tools” from Play the City, an organization doing really great work out of Amsterdam. It refers to a wide set of applications and information technologies that can be used to help the public get involved in improving cities.

The paper was useful for me because it gives me a structure for thinking about interactive city technologies. It’s already helped me as I prepared a proposal for developing an application designed to improve the intermodal station planning process.

The figure above is from the paper. It shows the five main elements of the proposed structure: input, analysis, support, collaboration, and output. Most applications cover several of these elements which is one reason developing the structure was difficult.


Paper: A Proposed Structure for Understanding Interactive City Tools

Presentation: Interactive City Tools – a proposed structure for understanding

Conference Papers and Presentations: Using ICT, Social Media and Mobile Technologies to Foster Self-Organisation in Urban and Neighbourhood Governance

Grr-Grr-Bike smart phone game

Grr-Grr-Bike! (working title) is a new smart phone app game designed to link players with local bike advocacy groups and provide some funding to these groups through in-app purchases. We have finished the prototype and are now working on fundraising to get the app finished.

That’s the YouTube Grr-Grr-Bike! game introduction video up above.

We need to raise 10,000 Euros to finish the game and put it on the app store. We are raising funds via the crowd funding application Indiegogo, here’s the Grr-Grr-Bike! Indiegogo information page (donate here!). There’s some fun perks for people who donate. UPDATE: We did not raise our goal and so we’re looking for other funding opportunities.

Even if you can’t donate, it would be great if you spread the word to your friends who are bikers and/or gamers … even watching / liking the video on YouTube will help.

Let me know if you have any ideas or questions in the comments and thanks for your help.

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