I understand interaction design primarily refers to digital interfaces. my usability review is not about anything digital. I apologize!
But if Don Norman can write about bad door designs and the documentary 'Objectified' refers to designing products as something within the realm of interaction design then I am justifying the following rant about 'BIKE STANDS IN NYC'
Lately, I have been biking around - i always firmly believed that if I never owned a car and used public transport I was doing a significant favor to the planet. After moving to NYC, I realized biking is a real option in transportation unlike Mumbai where if you are biking on the roads you may as well build a time machine and get guillotined. This led me to using the numerous different types of bike stands available in this city! Who designs these? The mayors office? I don't know! They are inconsistent and difficult!
So upon further investigation it seems that the DOT - Department of Transportation is in charge of these bike racks.
Firstly, you can put your bike on any stand like a bus stop pole etc but not a tree! Obviously! Secondly, I am thankful that there are bike racks in the city but the aim is to be a better society and have attention to detail. Thirdly, badly parked bikes are a nuisance to everyone - the other bike parkers, the pedestrians, the cars, the trash collectors, everyone!
The worst bike rack is the one on Waverly place near Tisch, it is fat and ugly and shaped irresponsibly and no bike can be happily parked there. Everyone ends up angling their bikes in a weird way so more space is consumed and lesser bikes get parked and the thickness of the pole is too much for the average U-lock that the bikers use.
The questions we need to ask to design these racks are -
What do bikes look like? When a biker parks his/her bike how do they do it? what is the most important part to secure? What do they use to secure it? Is there a standardized size for the locks? Is a U-lock better or the chain lock? What areas have more bikes? What areas need more racks? What shape and design suit which parts?
The problems I face when securing my bike, the pole I am attaching to is weirdly shaped either its to thick or it is some maze-like shape. I need to use a chain to secure my front tire to my U-lock which secures my back tire and bike frame. Why do I need to separate things? Can't bike racks be made such that I don't have to purchase more things! Is this a marketing tactic between the DOT and the bike lock companies? Is the whole point of America consumerism ? Okay, maybe these are broader questions than the assignment calls for!
If I had to design these racks, what would I do? - I really want to work on this!