INTERNET OF THINGS

Smart City - Envision a safe city

Overview


How can we create a safer interaction between cyclists, pedestrians and drivers?

The context

As part of the Design Studio 1 class in Fall 2017, we were given a mobility challenge to solve in the city of Los Angeles. We chose Mar Vista, a neighborhood on the west side of Los Angeles. Early 2017, the district decided to create an insulated bike lane to make biking safer for residents and tourists. However this new infrastructure created its fair share of issues.

The problem

Pedestrians and drivers are often unaware of approaching cyclists and will cross or turn into the bike lane without looking.

The proposed solution

Dynamic audio/visual alerts which protect cyclists’ right of way by warning pedestrians and drivers of their presence.

Timeline

2 months

Team

Stephanie Hawken, Mordechai Friedman, Zach Lalich

My role

Team Lead

Tools

Keynote, Sketch, Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop, Slack, Google Slides, iMovie

Research and insights


Anger spills into Mar Vista streets

Since the pilot project started in Mar Vista, involving a protected bike lane and car lanes reduction, residents and local business raised their voices and concerns regarding safety, traffic increase and the negative impact on business. For instance, a tattoo shop owner mentioned on The Corsair news that he has noticed that these changes have increased the likelihood of accidents between pedestrians and cyclists. A cyclist said that the enclosed bike lane made him safer from cars but that he would get annoyed by traffic if he was driving. We noted many different concerns from different groups of people which prompted us to visit the site to understand better what the issues are.

Problems we encountered when visiting the area

As soon as we approached the area, we noticed a few signs with guidelines on how to use the new street design. The guideline is easily missed by pedestrians and not visible to cyclists or drivers. We also noticed that some road markings and signs did not make much sense to us and we were not sure who they were designed for.

Visiting residents and local businesses

We interviewed business owners, residents and cyclists in the concerned area. We divided ourselves into 2 groups of 2 and decided ahead of time what businesses we would visit. We gathered information together afterwards and grouped important issues.

"I saw a few kids getting hit by bicycles"

Robert, 65, Salesman @ Johnson's Bookshop

 

"I witnessed a couple of bicycle accidents with pedestrians going into the bike lane"

Johnny, 52, Tattoo Artist @ Tattoo Lounge

"I love the new bike lane, I feel safer. I feel insulated from cars, but it’s still scary. Pedestrians just cross into the bike lane and cars don’t see me when I approach an intersection."

Ashton, 25, Bike commuter

Research results

Inconsistency

Transition is inconsistent in road markings (dash to solid randomly).

Poor communication

There isn’t any variation in color to distinguish the bike lane from the road or crosswalks. Poor communication between cars and cyclists: decisions are made instinctively and often in pressured-situations.

Lack of signage

There are signs but they are small and limited to the sidewalk.

Concept proposal


Using existing infrastructures and products

A solution that one of the stakeholders, the Council could implement easily to their project, at low cost. It would protect cyclists’ right of way by warning pedestrians and drivers of their presence.

Low fidelity

DEVICE DESIGN

Prototype

LIGHT AND SOUND DEVICE - Version 1

Prototype

LIGHT AND SOUND DEVICE - Version 2

After presenting our concept to our teacher and the rest of the class, a few people pointed out that the “bike” sign may not communicate the correct information to pedestrians as they are more used to see a “hand” sign as a STOP sign. After conducting A/B testing, we got confirmation that a Red Warning Hand Stop signal would be more effective.

After doing multiple rounds of tests, we came to the conclusion that a combination of a ring bell sound and voice was the most effective.

Prototype

DYNAMIC SIGNAGE

We decided to change the current static and busy sign into one that would communicate messages such as weather, events etc. The sign would change when a car and a bike would approach the intersection at the same time to let cyclists the right of way. A simple and regular yield sign would automatically appear when a car approaches the intersection to prompt cars to slow down.

Slide to the left and right on the arrows to see the current version on the left and our solution on the right.

Cameras

TRAFISENSE CAMERA
FLIR Intelligent Transportation Systems

TrafiSense is an integrated thermal sensor and detector for vehicle and bike detection. It uses the thermal energy emitted from vehicles and bicyclists. It can be combined with other sensors to detect pedestrians such as TrafiOne.

We learned from the company that the cameras would need to be installed on top of the traffic lights and some extra pole would need to be added between the blocs for maximum efficiency.

Use case scenario


Initial ideas

We thought about using bluetooth and have the cyclist carry a bluetooth device, either cellphone or a bluetooth sensor distributed by the council. This is a relatively inexpensive option, however that would mean that the cyclist would need to carry a device with him all the time.

We also looked at induction lines along the bike lane by using solar energy. After doing some researches, we realized that it would probably be too costly for the council.

Our solution: Prototype on meters with FLIR cameras

Internet of Things

Devices on meters communicate via bluetooth connected to a Raspberry pi computer.

TrafiOne cameras

The thermal cameras will trigger auditory and visual signals if pedestrians and cyclists are detected within the delimited area.

TrafiSense cameras

The thermal cameras will trigger a visual signal if a cyclist is detected when a car approaches the intersection.

Final project