Finding your way around London on a bike – how our Psychologists have helped!

May 28th, 2010 by Amanda Potter Leave a reply »

Help! I am lost in London – On a bike!

London’s streets have justifiably a reputation for not being particularly cyclist friendly. As the Mayor of London wants to support this most environmentally friendly of all mechanical transport modes, Transport for London has been tasked with looking for ways to achieving just this. A critical, but so far not explored factor is just how do cyclists make decisions when they plan journeys? Also, an understanding of how they effectively navigate through the streets of London would be crucial to any on the road support that cyclists should receive. Zircon has supported Arup, a renowned firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists, with delivery of a project that researched cognitive wayfinding of cyclists on behalf of TfL. 

Our brief was to empirically derive and validate principles of effective wayfinding for a range of cyclists across the capital. Key features of this research included a ‘bottom-up’ approach to deriving a proper framework for our research, since there was very little existing research to base our approach on. Furthermore, we went through several research stages, using a range of established psychological methods, such as surveys, focus groups, interviews, expert panels, and a semi-naturalistic study to validate/challenge our initial findings. The latter involved asking cyclists to travel in London whilst being equipped with camera and microphone plus GPS tracking systems.

The research was met with enthusiastic response from the cyclist community and TfL stakeholders. Zircon associate Dirk Murray-Palm, who lead the cognitive research part of the project, said: “This is a truly unique challenge for any psychologist; the scope of the project and range of geography and demographics that needed to be considered, make it a very involving and rewarding process. We were glad that so many cyclists offered us their time and saw the funny side in cycling with a camera on their helmet whilst continuously talking into their microphones to share their thoughts with us. Apparently, other traffic users found the sight of them very amusing…” Zircon is proud to have been involved in project that pushes the boundaries of our current core business activities. Rest assured, we will continue to do so.

Written by Dirk Murray-Palm, Zircon Business Manager.

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