Promoting Uptake of Utilitarian Cycling Through Digital Technology

Matthias Wunsch

Publikation: AbschlussarbeitDissertation


Information and communication technologies (ICT) are becoming ever more pervasive in our everyday lives. Mobility, including all modes of transport, is one area where this trend is present. However, there is no comprehensive understanding of technology’s role in supporting utilitarian cycling in realistic everyday settings. In this thesis, I aim to address this gap by exploring the interplay of technology and the adoption of utilitarian cycling. Across seven case studies, I describe motivations, choices and experiences involved in utilitarian cycling and the role of technology therein. I furthermore lay out how the environment, the available cycling infrastructure, the complex interactions with other road users, and the competencies of individuals shape experiences during cycling and using ICT in that realm. Using technology probes incorporating game-like elements, I show how such systems can help their users to stay motivated and use the bicycle more often. I also investigated how professional cycling instructors help novice cyclists to inform the design of a technology probe that facilitates competence development to support cyclists in complex real-world contexts. Its evaluation shows the potential and limits of such a supportive technology. By connecting the findings across the case studies back to the literature, I then present a framework for HCI in utilitarian cycling. Therein I show that utilitarian cycling can be understood as a practice that is itself a composition of smaller sub-practices, each of which consists of a dynamic interplay between material things, competences, and meanings. These practices can then be distinguished into those that happen on-the-bicycle and those off-the-bicycle. Furthermore, those practices differ in their complexity. I identify four fields of practices – planning practices, choosing utilitarian cycling, manoeuvring practices, and handling practices – and show how my case studies and related work in HCI research contribute to understanding the role of digital technology within those practices. This thesis contributes to HCI research by presenting a condensed conceptual perspective for HCI interventions and utilitarian cycling. It ranges from an abstract and decontextualised to a specific and contextualised view on cycling. It provides a detailed description of cyclists’ experiences within complex real-world contexts, highlights the importance of both choices and social practices, and provides an understanding and examples for designing and embedding ICT as meaningful support in this realm. The insights presented here can thus inform future research and design on interactive technology for cycling.
Gradverleihende Hochschule
  • TU Wien
Betreuer/-in / Berater/-in
  • Fitzpatrick, Geraldine, Betreuer:in, Externe Person
  • Millonig, Alexandra, Betreuer:in
Datum der Bewilligung17 Nov. 2022
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2022

Research Field

  • Ehemaliges Research Field - Mobility Systems
  • Climate Resilient Pathways


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