Urban Emotions and Cycling Experience--enriching traffic planning for cyclists with human sensor data

Abstract

Even though much research has been conducted on the safety of cycling infrastructures, most previous approaches only make use of traditional and proven methods based upon datasets such as accident statistics, road infrastructure data, or questionnaires. Apart from typical surveys, which are known to face numerous limitations from a psychological and sociological viewpoints, the question of how perceived safety can best be assessed is still widely unexplored. Thus, this paper presents an approach for bio-physiological sensing to identify places in urban environments which are perceived as unsafe by cyclists. Specifically, a number of physiological parameters like ECG, skin conductance, skin temperature and heart rate variability are analysed to identify moments of stress. Together with data gathered through a People as Sensors app, these stress levels can be mapped to specific emotions. This method was tested in a pilot study in Cambridge, MA (USA), which is presented in this paper. Our findings show that our method can identify places with emotional peaks, particularly fear and anger. Although our results can be qualitatively interpreted and used in urban planning, more research is necessary to quantitatively and automatically generate recommendations from the measurements for urban planners.

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