Project Upkeep is an individual thesis project! For the thesis, the task is to identify tensions in desired fields, turn these tensions into opportunity spaces and execute a full solution. I personally preferred focusing on the bike industry, mainly because I am a bike enthusiast myself. This project has two main sections: 3 month worth research and identifying and 3 month worth execution and validation. Overall, this project is both a personal and a thesis project, for the sake of urban cyclists.
As a cyclist, I didn't think of what problems I or other fellow urban cyclist encounter prior to initiating the project, but I knew that there should be something that could be improved. Instead of thinking about my own experience, I wanted to learn from other cyclist's stories. Therefore, I initiated the project with recruiting users for interviews. Whether if they were a professional biker or a recreational rider, I needed to reach out to them to learn about their experiences and understand the tensions they encounter. Within a short period of time, I managed to interview 18 urban cyclists, and identify multiple pain points. One major tension was about preventative maintenance. Cleaning a bicycle requires space and various supplies, which is mostly inaccessible to cyclists who live in urban areas.
After conducting interviews with various users, I wanted to go out to the field to observe bikers. There were multiple locations that users could utilize to maintain their bikes, since maintenance itself was very vague and general. I knew that there were bike maintenance stations on college campuses, so I started with finding them. FixIt Stations by Dero, are the most common stations. They offer various tools so I wanted to understand how their service was. While I was visiting these stations on Northwestern Campus, I realized that they do not offer any service on cleaning and preventative maintenance, which was the main tension of the interviewers. Also, since all their offered tools are exposed, they were all damaged and rusted. It became more clear to me that there was not a dedicated, proper space for urban cyclists to clean their rides.
After understanding that there are no alternative environments to clean a bike, besides the cyclists own apartment and the non-crowded public spaces, I wanted to immerse myself to further understand the struggle. As someone who is living in a major city, I have a very limited space in my unit. Since I lack the space indoors, my only option was to go on the side walk. As I was immersing myself, I realized that I did need a lot more time to clean than I probably should. I did not have a water supply and so, had to carry it back and forth from my unit with a bucket. I also needed to carry soap and sponge initially and at the end. Overall, since I did not have the right supplies, I confirmed that it certainly wasn't an easy task.
Even though I realized that there is no dedicated space with proper supplies for urban cyclist to clean their bikes in Chicago, I wanted to know if it is the same in different cities. From different forums and websites, I realized that it indeed is a problem in all major cities, since a lot of cyclists expressed a search for a proper space for cleaning their bikes.
With the research I conducted, I understood that users needed space and supplies to properly get the "job" done. Now it was important to synthesize and understand whom needed this solution, whom could benefit from it the most. After going back to the interviews conducted and analyzing the secondary research, I have identified the major urban cyclist user groups. I created various frameworks to properly see which group would utilize this solution the most. One framework (the one above) helped me understand which user group cycles the most frequently (the closer to the center in the framework, the more frequent they ride). Thanks to creating these frameworks, not only I knew what the major tension is, but also understood who really is affected from it the most.
How might we create a dedicated space and deliver proper equipment and supplies for the urban cyclist to clean and maintain their bicycle with ease?
Currently, I am working on prototyping different concepts and testing them to properly iterate and deliver a successful product. This project will finalize on December 15th, and the project page will be updated regularly until then!
PS: the GIF is only temporary, and here is it's source: https://trainright.com/best-week-ever-bike/