E-bikes and general road safety

E-bikes and general road safety

Hangzhou International school

We used the design class to identify and research perceived problems with student safety in regards to traffic in our immediate area.

The ideas

After finding a wide range of problems we narrowed our scope down to two main categories, E-bikes and general road safety. Our target audience was identified as our community at HIS and our immediate neighbors as their traffic patterns and practices had influence over our safety as well.  We looked at the possibility of altering E-bikes to make them safer and at how to alter the mindsets of the operators. We also wanted to target the youngest members of our community, as the safety mindset of the west is not pervasive in this culture currently. We identified that most students arrive at school by bus so to further broaden our impact we included targeting their safety practices in our plan.

The initiatives

For the community outreach we reached out to 4 local schools. We created a series of posters in Magna style and in two languages to make it attractive. These inform about road rules and create caution that some may break the rules so you need to be vigilant.   We contacted both Google maps and Apple maps in hopes of having them add a visual or audio warning indicating that the driver was about to enter a school zone.  While we kept up a pretty constant barrage of emails, help chats on their web sites and phone calls we met with much frustration. Google never responded beyond what we could get from a Chat bot, and Apple responded simply with "We will look into it."  

Polling showed that almost 90% of students had witnessed their bus driver operate the vehicle in a manner that qualified as distracted driving. Our initiative was to provide drivers with a fan that informed them of the dangers of distracted driving. These were distributed and the effect was immediate. A week later a non-scientific but significantly less number of incidents of distracted driving was recorded.

Looking at E-bike safety the main problems that were identified were: they are silent therefore causing crashes into pedestrians and other bikes, they are often overloaded with packages and passengers, and exclusive of a few Americans and the delivery service there is close to a 100% rate of riders not wearing helmets.  We targeted our youngest members with a comic book written and designed for elementary aged children, hoping changing their mindset may influence adults in their lives now and produce lifelong safety habits in them. The comic follows the life of Ellie the Bunny and how she comes to realize the importance of wearing a helmet. This comic was presented to the Library, and is in production now to go to every elementary classroom.  Focusing on the current drivers we posted the rules, which all were unaware of the existence, for operating an e-bike in China. We linked this to a video that informs drivers about hazards and death rates, as well as a short test that quizzes you on your understanding of the rules.

As we looked at sound design for E-bikes, many discussions were held about sound scape of cities, what they sound like now and what they will sound like in the future. The sound made with the plastic card was effective but not pleasant. This has led us down an entirely new path around sound design for signs and busses as well as e-bikes. These are on the table and being worked now.

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