My Thesis: Experiential bike maps


My MA thesis in interaction design is about how an interactive trip planner (like Google Maps) can show the experience of a bike trip, as well as the logistics. What will be enjoyable (or not) about the trip? Will it be fun?

Research Questions

  • How do people use an experiential trip planner?
  • What aspects of experience are important, and when are they important?
  • How can a trip planner communicate experience?


I made four prototypes: two designs, applied to two canned scenarios. Then in my user study, cyclists used the prototypes to plan trips.

The two designs try different ways of presenting the experience of trips.


Design A has:

  • Illustrations of districts the routes go through
  • Cyclist-submitted comments about how the routes make them feel
  • Hills embedded into the route line

Design B has:

  • Curated photos of the routes
  • Charts showing where there are hills & heavy traffic
  • Colour coded neighbourhood types
Scenario 1:
Trip to a picnic
Scenario 2:
Trip to work

Prototypes work best in Google Chrome, on a 13-inch or bigger screen. Map credits.


Thirteen cyclists used the prototypes to plan trips. By observing the cyclists, and talking to them, I learned:

  • What cyclists want an experiential trip planner to do for them, and what kinds of information it should convey
  • How cyclists interpreted the experiential information

Thesis Document

Download (43MB PDF)


I've presented my work at these venues:

  • Velo-City Global, June 2012.
    Not available online.
  • Portland Bicycle Transportation Brown-Bag, July 2012.
    Slides (PDF). Audio (WMA).
  • North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS), October 2012.
    Sides (PDF).