All morning I have been hearing the news that the U.S. national average for a gallon of gas topped the 4-dollar mark. Most people don’t seem all that happy about that milestone, but climbing gas prices are certainly something you won’t hear me complaining about. In light of the recent attention to 4-dollar gas, I thought I would revisit an old post; specifically my third ever post on this blog from September of 2005. Back then; gas prices were still cheap, but steadily rising, so I mentioned that those climbing prices were a great opportunity for the bike industry. Many commuter oriented bikes and products have hit the US market since that post was written, but I still think that designers in the bike industry have a great opportunity to design products that will introduce cycling to a new segment of the population. I don’t know what the magic number will be for most people, but at some point people will stop just complaining about high gas prices and will take the first step toward changing their driving habits. When they are ready to make that choice, it is important that they see bicycling as not just efficient, but as a fun and healthy way to get around; really a better user experience. It is up to the industry to portray that message, and the design of the products they offer is a big part of it.
For those of us who just love cycling and feel like there is never enough time to ride, it is sometimes hard to think like a “non-cyclist”. That is exactly what designers need to do though if they are to successfully lure new customers out of their cars and onto bicycles. Creating a user experience that is very different from that of the average recreational cyclist is one of the challenges that designers in the industry face. But of course, a challenge means opportunity, so I wanted to reiterate the message in that post from nearly three years ago (nobody was reading the blog back then anyway, so I am sure it is new to most of you).
While I am on this subject, I’ll point you to another post on the subject of gas prices and the industry from Bicycle Marketing Watch (aka Shut Up and Drink the Kool-Aid). It’s an interesting discussion on that site as usual, so check out the post if you missed it.
Photo credit: Fritz/Richard on Flickr