I’m posting this picture in honor of the start of my second semester in grad school, which means, among other things, getting back on my bike and riding to BART for the cross-bay leg of my journey to Berkeley. One of the things I love about riding my bike is that by the time I arrive at my destination I’m invariably in a better mood than when I left, so I missed that part of my commute.
The photo was taken for one of my favorite design projects: a t-shirt for the San Francisco Bike Coalition, one of the largest bicycle advocacy groups in the country. I wanted to celebrate the incredible diversity of cyclists in the city, so took pictures of about two dozen cyclists at a bicycle festival to use as silhouettes (see below for the final design).
Looking back, I think it’s also appropriately symbolic of my current transformation from designer to researcher. This project was user research, starting with having to recruit the participants myself. While the end goal was taking a photo of them on their bike, the process of building trust with them turned into interviews. I found out about their cycling habits, why they ride, and documented a very personal moment when I photographed them on their bike. I also muddled my way through numerous unpredictable and awkward moments, such as realizing how difficult it was for many of them to stay upright and motionless on a bike without something to hold onto. Overall, however, it was an incredibly fun and inspiring day.
Then I went home and started the next phase: reviewing, analyzing and organizing the data until I felt is was an appropriate representation. But I ended up with one of the most honest designs I’d ever made: a t-shirt that was literally of and for San Francisco cyclists.