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Towards a better London cycling experience

City University London MSc students think up creative proposals for the Transport for London (TfL) Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme.
by John Stevenson

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As part of their coursework, students on City University London's MSc programmes in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership (MICL) and Human Centred Systems (HCS), have come up with a variety of approaches for improving the Transport for London (TfL) Barclays Cycle Hire scheme.

In a recent presentation to senior TfL officials, the students' suggestions included the following:

Smart Oyster: An integrated travel card for cycle scheme bicycles and all other transportation modes. In line with a redesign of the payment system, this will come in the form of a built-in technical device placed in the bike's handle bar;

Redesigned docking station:  Features include weather protection, an interactive design map, added lighting, security and a vending machine for bike equipment. This should also be more aesthetically pleasing to use;

A bike buddy scheme: An option to hire a buddy (experienced cyclist) to help one to access the bicycle and use it around London. This will address safety concerns and offer a buddy in-kind payment through discounts or free bicycle hire;

Redesigning docking stations to address bicycle and space availability: Each docking station would have eight bicycle spaces, of which two would always be empty. Bicycles should be stored underground or lowered depended on need. Docking stations should be integrated with bus stops whenever possible so as to serve a multiple service function;

The City students feel their research will help TfL to get a better understanding of the demographics around the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme and will motivate users to return bicycles to empty docking stations, among other functions.

Professor Neil Maiden, Academic Lead for the MICL programme and Head of Centre for Human Computer Interaction Design (HCID) in City's School of Informatics, says the students came up with compelling proposals:

"They were given a challenging brief to creatively think through all aspects of the Barclays Cycle Hire Service, from the software to the docking station design to rethinking the bicycles. They presented a well thought out and visually provocative collection of proposals which TfL officials were impressed with during the students' presentations."

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.