Our test insights led us to create Cyched! a service and community that takes Curious Newcomers, Anxious Not-So-Safers, Cautious Need-A-Refreshers, Cool Cafe Hoppers and Casual Neighbourhood Riders on thoughtfully-designed safe and scenic rides in London, helping them get comfortable and confident with cycling, all while cruising around the city.
Cyched! is all about bringing back that exciting moment where Dad gave you that little push and then lifted his hands off you, this time, it’s the adult us that needs assurance, and Cyched! provides it to new and existing residents looking to get back into cycling, through thoughtfully-designed rides. Our mission is to create a diverse cycling culture in London by enabling more people to cycle.
Instead of emphasising on narratives like “Gear yourself up for cycling in London!”, we leverage on the intrigue of place-exploration as the pull factor to encourage new residents to get on bikes, and the assurance of a positive first experience to enable them to:
- Gain familiarity of the cycling environment
- Regain cycling confidence
- Overcome their psychological barrier of cycling in London
In short - we use exploration as a means to get people cycling!
Whilst our early research was inspired by experiences by new residents, we found that there is a large group of people who are beginning to pick up cycling again due to more available support and funding from the government, and many of whom also consider themselves fresh and unfamiliar.
So, we seek to bridge the gap not just for new residents, but for people who already know how to cycle and are curious about cycling in London and yet, have different concerns starting.
This includes people like Min, a newcomer from Beijing who wants to cycle but is intimidated by the roads.
And people like Jan, a local who has lived in London for 20 years and has recently been encouraged by his daughter to start cycling again. He has considered joining a cycling club but is intimidated by the commitment required.
Cyched! is also for people who are curious about exploring London and open and looking for interesting ways to do so and meet people, like Asma, who had just moved from LA to London for work and wants to explore her neighbourhood and make some friends in her community.
So how does it work?
- Participants register for our rides through our website, where they get to choose from 3 explorer levels and over a dozen neighbourhoods and themed rides
- On the day of their first ride, they meet the group and go through a short introduction to get to know each other, then they’re briefed on the route of the day, provided some cycling refresher tips and also some key things to note on the route itself, before going on the ride
- Bikes and helmets are provided as part of the package courtesy of a referral partnership with bike providers
- At the end of the session, the participants are encouraged to stay connected via the community platform, where they can choose their next rides and keep in touch with the Cyched! community
Although simple at its core, Cyched! consists of multiple components informed by user research and testing.
1. Rides Designed to Appeal
Safe & Scenic Routes:
Firstly, our rides are designed to appeal to the group of people who are interested but concerned, and looking for a safe and positive entry into cycling in London, without all the noise. Whilst safe and quiet routes are common considerations for commuter cyclists, safe and scenic routes are key to building a positive first experience because in this instance, the bicycle simply becomes a tool for exploring London.
Led by Friendly, Trained People:
Where safety is concerned, people trust and feel more at ease being guided by someone they deem more experienced, so friendly, trained guides are designed to serve that purpose, but also more importantly to ensure the safety of our participants.
Doing things in a group where everyone comes with similar intentions makes experiencing uncomfortable things a little less scary. This acknowledgement of vulnerability also builds a safe base for people to interact and make friends.
Catering to Needs of the Less Committed:
We found that those who are new to London or looking to get back into cycling don’t immediately want to invest in a bicycle if they aren’t sure about it, and bike sharing platforms aren’t the most easy to on-board. We have plans to work with our partner Peddle My Wheels to provide bicycles and helmets that will come included as part of the ride, so our participants don’t have to fret about the unnecessary.
Rides Designed for Progressive (Re)Learning
Understanding how cognitively overwhelming it can be to relearn things, our rides are strategically designed to create the best learning opportunities without our participants realising it:
We understand that less is more, therefore instead of overwhelming our participants with all the cycling rules, we distill and share important safety guidance and cycling refreshers relevant to the route they will be going on, keeping it clear and concise.
People receive a morale boost when they overcome small challenges they come across. We ensure the routes start easy with cycling lanes, and gradually expose participants to small, manageable challenges, adding in traffic junctions and parts where they cycle in traffic alongside cars.
Our rides also come with 3 levels that enable our participants to progress with each ride, starting with routes with 90% cycle lanes.
Service Designed to Foster Support & Belonging
A Community where People can Come Together:
Our target market consists of people from all over the world who have just moved to London, as well as those who have lived here but are curious to explore cycling again, gathering people from different cultures and walks of life to come together.
Knowledge Sharing & Cultural Exchange:
A space where interactions and cultural exchange can be stimulated, establishing an enriched sense of belonging, Cyched! provides the opportunity for people to continue to stay engaged, enabling not just discussions on cycling, but on cultural knowledge about living in London and places that might be of interest to certain groups of people. Imagine our very own Cyched! Michelin Guide!
Our rides are core to the service, but a key engagement channel will be our web-based community platform, where we integrate cycling map data to create and share rides based on explorer levels, and also, where people can continue to engage and exchange not just through discussions on cycling, but cultural knowledge about living in London.
Ultimately, Cyched! uses place exploration as a mechanism that guides our participants to get comfortable cycling and learn about the city in their own way, helping them establish new spatial and social connections, and for some, even build a home away from home.
Unlike bike tours which don’t focus on cycling etiquettes; cycle training which are for the more determined; cycle buddy services which can be a slow matching process; and cycling clubs which can be intimidating, we see ourselves targeting people at a different stage in their journey. Acting as a bridge to nudge users to cycle, we want to position ourselves as a service that’s more accessible and approachable to people, especially if they are still figuring out and exploring cycling. When they do, cycle trainings and social rides may be their next milestones!
Theory of Change
Ultimately, our theory of change is that by providing a positive first encounter to cycling in London, we help people gain confidence to continue cycling,
- Bringing more diverse representation of cyclists, driving infrastructural and policy changes and enriching the cycling culture in London
- Also, as cycling provides a balance between interaction and transportation, it’s an ideal means for place-learning, a process that contributes to a sense of establishment and sense of belonging, which is essential in enabling social integration, especially for mega-diverse cities like London
With these potential outcomes in mind, we are proud to have our project being endorsed by industry stakeholders from Sustrans (UK’s cycling and walking charity and custodian of the National Cycle Network), Citymapper and TfL, who appreciate the gentle approach and fresh angle we bring to the cycling landscape, and see the potential in it complementing existing initiatives.
Of the 9 people who participated in our prototyping session as new to cycling in London, 4 have since gone on more subsequent rides, some even taking their friends along. Two of them are considering getting bike subscriptions.
Our aim is to continue collaborating with Peddle My Wheels and TfL, taking the advice to pilot through meet-up platforms to refine our offering, establish a community, and build a strong case as we source for public grants.