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Bikeoff Design Resource

The Bikeoff Design Resource is web-based and it gives information on the nature and patterns of bike theft, systematically-acquired and well-organised knowledge about design responses covering bikes, locks, parking furniture, parking facilities, bike hire schemes and materials.

http://www.bikeoff.org/design_resource/

How did the project come about?

Bikeoff is an initiative of the Design Against Crime Research Centre located at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. It was set up in 2004, with small grants funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to explore how the design of cycling-related objects and environments might reduce the risk of theft and promote cycle usage with all its health and environmental benefits. In 2006 further research funding from the AHRC/ EPSRC Designing for the 21st Century programme awarded to the Design Against Crime Research Centre and the UCL Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science funded a portfolio of projects, the outputs of which included the Bikeoff Design Resource. The aim of the resource was threefold:

1) to develop ‘innovative capacity’ among designers that alerted, informed and empowered them to generate new approaches to cycle parking that were simultaneously secure, user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing and otherwise fit for purpose

2) to motivate the designers to get involved in addressing cycle theft

3) to help establish a wider supportive climate for these approaches among stakeholders, dutyholders, the media, politicians and the public.

How did our research lead to new designs?

Bikeoff was concerned with reducing bicycle theft through practice based design research aimed at catalysing, and in some cases creating, cycling products and services that consider users (cyclists) but also abusers (vandals and thieves). The research included rigorous and extensive observation of cyclists’ locking practices, and analysis of ‘perpetrator techniques’ for stealing bikes. Foremost among the products is the M-shaped ‘Camden’ bike stand which has been shown to increase secure locking practice by cyclists. However, the development of innovative capacity among designers was based on both reflective analysis of our own design experience in and beyond this project, and extensive international research into existing bike parking facilities and design guides, combined with practical principles derived from crime science. And the establishment of a supportive climate involved understanding and working with a wide range of stakeholders and dutyholders from cyclists’ groups to police and local government, plus direct engagement of cyclists through a wiki and other social media.

What kind of design is it?

The Bikeoff Design Resource is web-based. It gives information on the nature and patterns of bike theft, and systematically-acquired and well-organised knowledge about design responses covering bikes, locks, parking furniture, parking facilities, bike hire schemes and materials. It also describes a design brief produced/sponsored in association with the Home Office and Royal Society of Arts. The brief was intended to mobilise students to draw on the other design resources and explore “how design-led strategies for secure cycling can reduce the risk of cycle theft, increase cycle use and afford UK cities and citizens the benefits cycling has to offer”. The 26 entries indicate how well the students responded.

What are the strengths of the design?

In a phrase, richness of content and illustration, retrievability due to well-organised structure and navigation using subtopic lists, tabs etc, and reliability resulting from systematic research.

What are the weaknesses of the design?

The very richness of the material, the diversity of its origins and the evolution of designs requires significant human/ financial input to keep the resource up to date.

Where to find more information

www.bikeoff.org

AHRC case study of impact including Bikeoff project