Vienna’s Ringstrasse is one of the world’s most historic streets. Created in the 1860’s when Vienna tore down its defensive walls, the boulevard circles the city’s historic centre and is home for many of Vienna’s most important cultural institutions.
The Ringstrasse150 project examined how games and information technology could be used to increase public engagement in transport planning and increase political support for sustainable transport. The project started in 2015 to celebrate the Ringstrasse’s 150th birthday and remained online until early 2019.
The project consisted of:
- Ring Ride smart phone game: a fun way to engage people in transport planning; and,
- Ringstrasse150.com website: organisations, events, and resources for cycling in Vienna.
Ring Ride Game
Ring Ride was a simple runner-type game where players tried to cycle as far as possible while avoiding hazards like other cyclists, trams, and pedestrian Mozarts selling concert tickets (a common hazard in Vienna). Players had to stop for red traffic signals, so there was also some educational aspects to the game. The game is shown in the Ring Ride video (YouTube).
The Ring Ride game was created by adding art illustrating the Ringstrasse and new hazards to an earlier project called Grr-Grr-Bike also developed by Andrew Nash. Grr-Grr-Bike included a hazard of opening car doors, which helps educate both cyclists and motorists to this critical cycling safety problem.
When the player crashed into an obstacle, the game ended and the results screen gave players the option of viewing the Ringstrasse150.com website.
Ringstrasse 150 Website
The website provided information on how players could get involved in cycle planning and advocacy in Vienna. Specifically:
- Organisations working on cycling (Vienna cycle lobby, city cycle suggestion site);
- Cycling events (updated regularly);
- Ideas for improving cycling on the Ringstrasse;
- Information on downloading the Ring Ride game;
- Resources (Vienna bike sharing program, Austrian bicycling magazine, Austrian sustainable mobility organization, and Vienna mobility agency).
The game was fun to play and the project successfully demonstrated the potential of using a mobile phone game to direct players to information on public involvement, however, it lacked support from any established cycling organization or transport agency.
The lack of ‘official’ support meant that there was no specific call to action (e.g., please comment on Vienna’s new cycling strategy, or please come to our organizing meeting). Therefore, there were no direct results of the project: it was simply a fun game and a useful website. The lesson learned is that while it is possible to use games for engagement and to lead people to information, to be effective such projects need a clear sponsor or goal.
To be successful, public involvement projects require sponsorship from an agency, NGO or individual, that has a direct call to action such as give us comments on a plan, give us specific improvement ideas (that we will follow-up on), or join our movement.
The approach could be extended to create games for several cities, each with its own local artwork and a different hazards designed to educate people about safe cycling. Players could play the game in other cities to make the game more interesting and to learn new safety tips.
Please contact andy (at) andynash (dot) com for more information.
Paper: Using Online Games in Transport: Grr-Grr-Bike Case Study; Nash, Andrew, Peter Purgathofer, Fares Kayali; TRB Annual Meeting 2014.