Healthy Ride Pittsburgh
Healthy Ride Pittsburgh is a new bike sharing service owned by Pittsburgh Bike Share. A German company, Nextbike, supplies the bikes as well as an app.
There are stations in Downtown Pittsburgh, East Liberty, Shadyside, and Oakland.
“Nextbike” is the app that can be downloaded in order to rent bikes from a smartphone (apple or android). Using the nextbike app, according to online reviews, is far more simple than trying to use the physical kiosk. This image greets users for one second upon opening the app.
Google maps and it’s UX is used. Pinch, drag, and other interface controls are the same.
After tapping on a bike station icon the popup centers on the page and lists the number of bikes at the station as well as when that number was updated.
A Healthy Ride bike while locked into a bike station.
By downloading the app, users can bypass using the kiosk. I didn’t ever use the kiosk when testing the system.
The back of a bike. The number “70309” is the bike’s specific identification number, while the keypad is for using the cable lock.
After registering a profile, including credit card information, this is the initial home and start screen upon opening next bike.
Pulling out of bike was easy for me, no technological or mechanical problems. After tapping “Start new rental” the screen jumps to here.
On the website FAQ, Healthy Ride instructs users to not use the cable locks as the software is faulty, yet, after renting a bike through the app there isn’t any form of notification to warn users. The cable locking device even is the most prominently displayed information on the page, (biggest font, bold) increasing the confusion.
I didn’t see the warning online, so I tested the lock and didn’t experience any problems. The lock discourages theft as even if a thief cut the thinner bike wire, the solid bolt between the spokes would be much more difficult to remove.
A closer look at the cable lock keypad.
While riding the bike:
A user can track their location through an overhead map, but the connection between the physical and digital world isn’t very informative. There are no cues for navigating to a nearby bike station.
Bikes can be returned by pushing the fork of the bike into any locking mechanism at a station. I held the bike in the station locking dock for a few seconds until the lock activated.
Online reviews and community feedback.
Yelp reviews were primarily negative, although two people did appreciate the feeling of freedom and joy while riding a bike through the streets. Almost all the complaints were about mechanical or technological issues when using the bikes, bike locks, kiosk number pads, or bike station locking mechanisms.
Members of an online community called the “Voice of the Region” were almost entirely negative, although most of the comments didn’t seem to be specific to Healthy Ride and almost all weren’t actual users of the service.
Reddit users were far more supportive of Healthy Ride and also didn’t have any major complaints about the mechanics of the bike. They also noted the popularity of Healthy Ride throughout Pittsburgh.
I first looked at the boundaries and constraints of the physical and digital environment.
In order to show an overview of the digital and physical environment of Healthy Ride, I created a storyboard that highlighted which parts of an interaction would be considered digital or physical.
To further my understanding of the environment, I mapped the digital and physical entrances and exits.
I broke down the key variables affecting the system and necessary services required of an average experience using Health Ride. I also recapped my findings from online user reviews.
My personal experience with Healthy Ride was overall positive. The absence of a timer on the bike was worrying as I didn’t want to ride for more than 30 minutes and have to pay another $2. Riding a bike was freeing and I didn’t have any mechanical or digital problems when riding. However, I didn’t navigate to a different bike station or have any time pressure.
I had many new ideas and problems to consider after the in-class critique. The primary questions raised were:
- What would be considered a successful bike sharing system?
- How do you navigate while driving?
- How do you deal with maintaining an even distribution of bikes amongst stations?
- How can other forms of payment besides credit cards be accepted?
- How is illegal activity on bikes dealt with?
- How do you evaluate customer reviews?
- Do you need a smartphone to us this service?
I answered most of these questions in my sketchbook.
While continuing to examine nextbike I decided to pretend as if the mechanical components of the bikes, locks, and stations worked perfectly. I hypothesized that users didn’t report having trouble navigating through the environment because they were too busy being frustrated with the physical aspects of the bikes.
To improve user connection to the digital as well as physical, I added the ability to input a destination into the app.
In investigating ways of mounting a phone on a bike I ran into trouble with how to position the phone on the bike as well how to eliminate camera shake. After initially taping a phone to the handlebars, the camera shook violently, forcing me to reevaluate the viability of mounting a phone onto a bike.
My proposal consisted of creating a navigational app with augmented reality that would complement nextbike.
In creating an augmented reality navigation system for Healthy Ride I hoped to provide a safer, more fun way to receive directions while biking.
For A3 I learned about mapping physical and digital spaces together as well as how to use After Effects.
In order to explore how the physical and digital environment was composed I used then analyzed the different components of the service, took photos, explored Healthy Ride’s website, and researched customer reviews on multiple websites. To learn After Effects I used lynda.com.
All of my project came together in a little over a week. The Wizard of Oz video I created was edited after the due date with in order to more fully represent my idea. I wasn’t able to successfully use After Effects the night before the project.
In completing A3 I believe that I planned well until the last few days before the due date, considering I only gave myself a little over a week to work. I spread out my researching and exploration of the environment over several days, but didn’t shoot my video for the final presentation until the last day. Then, I didn’t seek out the After Effects help I needed, instead trying to figure out how to render on my own.
I had to re-assesse many of my design ideas for how to mount a phone on a bike. There were many issues such as video stability and video angle that I didn’t consider until I actually tried taping a phone to the handlebars. Furthermore I had to change my focus of the project, ignoring user complaints about mechanical problems, working instead on digital and physical space interaction.
I felt content with my work until the day before the project was due, when I felt stressed and frustrated. Most of my anger was directed towards After Effects, but after sleeping solidly the day after I felt excited about learning how to use After Effects.
My distractions were learning After Effects and my other environments project. I got caught up trying to learn how to use motion tracking when in reality I only needed to place arrows onto the screen at different times. Also, I didn’t invest any time in A3 because I was busy thinking about other environments projects.
I became motivated during the beginning of the project when analyzing the environment and kept my motivation throughout the project. However, I was demotivated while first trying to learn After Effects and when I researched navigational augmented reality, which was already “old” technology by now.
What were you challenged by?
I was challenged by the time crunch of understanding a space then proposing a meaningful change within it. Figuring out how defined a design proposal should be was another challenge I had trouble with. I wasn’t sure how many details or steps to show as far as final wireframes and storyboards.
What did you do well?
I was proud of the depth of my exploration for the current system in place as well as the final video I created.
What would you do differently?
I should’ve done a brief study of the environment before the week the project was due. This would’ve at least started the thinking process for how to improve the environment. Next, after shooting video, I didn’t immediately check my footage to ensure quality. Thus I had to return in the morning to retake video which wasted time. Finally, for my last deliverable, I will learn how to render my final before the last day as attempting to learn technology the night of the due date hasn’t worked for me in the past.