When you hear well-nigh a space designed to be wieldy that has an oasis of felt plants, potted 20-foot-tall trees, and stenciled flowers, a bus stop is probably not the first thing that comes to mind.

Yet, that’s what bus riders in the City of Chelsea have experienced over the last couple of months with the remarkable transformation of a bus shelter on Broadway serving the lines 114 and 116 (pictured above).

To infuse the bus wits for riders with a little bit of joy, the City of Chelsea, in collaboration with the Boston Bus Rapid Transit (BostonBRT) initiative, created the “Flower Walk” art installation at the Broadway and 3rd Street bus stop. Vastitude a revamped bus stop with over 180 plantings, colorful stimulating designs, and immersive art elements created by several local artists and youth groups, the project featured a new level-boarding bus (ZICLA) platform that allows riders to workbench safely without having to step off the prorogue in an zone with heavy traffic.

The project moreover sought to understand – with data – how improved bus stops shape how people interact with the natural and built environment. In other words, can largest bus stops make everyone near them happier, whether or not you ride the bus?

Urban diamond and transit planning throughout the 20th century often ignored the human experience, resulting in cityscapes and urban environments (e.g., wide highways and long stretches of touchable sidewalks) that pose mobility challenges and make street spaces finger unwelcoming. However, biometric technologies used in the car manufacturing industry, including eye-tracking software, can help cities and towns promote human-centered designs and guide the minutiae of infrastructure that meets people’s needs.

We at the Human Architecture and Planning Institute (theHapi.org) leveraged these technologies with the Chelsea “Flower Walk” to show how nonconscious behaviors uncontrived our wits in urban environments far increasingly than most realize. We conducted a study using biometric softwares from iMotions.com, a global purveyor of biometrics tools for human behavioral research. Survey participants looked at surpassing and without photos of the transformed bus stop in Chelsea for twelve seconds on their laptops or computers and webcams running iMotions-online.  

A before-and-after view of the bus stop. Researchers showed this image to people to evaluate what unprotected their eye in each image.

We first wanted to understand how people squint at a bus stop. What catches their eye? The data showed that the original bus stop did not vamp passersby’s sustentation and that subtracting verisimilitude and originative elements, withal with small infrastructural changes, to roadways and bus stops unprotected people’s sustentation and that this can transpiration human perception. 

The diptych of photos whilom displays the original bus stop and an image of its redesign with colorful flower art. The icon unelevated shows how viewers reacted to this image:

An turned-on GIF shows the same before-and-after diptych of the same bus stop whilom with an overlay of viewers' attention, displayed as red and untried blobs. A red splotch indicates a focal point on the revamped floral bus stop seat at left, with yellow blobs on and virtually the painted flowers on the platform in front of the shelter. The image at right, which shows the same bus stop without the floral installation, has only a few untried blobs indicating weak attention.
A heatmap that shows where viewers focused their sustentation when looking at the same before-and-after images of the bus stop in Chelsea.

This heatmap shows participants’ sustentation glowing reddest where they looked most – on and virtually the revamped bus seat with felt flowers. It fades to yellow and untried virtually the colorful flower patterns at its base, where sustentation starts to decrease, with no comparable focal point and sustentation drawn anywhere at the original bus stop that lacks both the seat and the flower art elements.

We moreover wanted to show how the bus stop not only draws people’s sustentation to essential elements of the bus stop, like the revamped bench, unexceptionable signage, and colorful boarding platform – but that it makes them finger happy. iMotions and the emotional expression software Affectiva helped with that.

The emotional heatmap unelevated shows how verisimilitude washes over the bus stop image, indicating participants’ emotional wits at a glance. It shows how joyful feelings (see the pink verisimilitude wash on the left) surround the transformed bus stop and positive emotions virtually the flowery walk. There are no strong emotions over the image of the original bus stop (seen on the right). 

Beyond understanding how originative and infrastructural improvements can enhance people’s bus experience, these technologies suggest a path forward for future research that looks vastitude the bus but at street diamond increasingly often and an opportunity to unclose human perceptual biology and biases.

For urban planners, the Chelsea “Flower Walk” bus stop initiative highlights many lessons to consider in the planning process, including: 

  • Define and incorporate goals for how people will wits infrastructural developments and improvements – easier to see and engage with, evoke feelings of joy, visually well-flavored and accessible, and more. 
  • Get creative in incorporating originative and natural elements as well as embrace verisimilitude – many people enjoyed the new seat with colorful felt flowers and the flower paintings withal the street. 
  • Adopt biometrics technologies, surveys, and other measurement forms during the diamond process, with perspective drawings and renderings, to help unzip the goal of drawing people’s sustentation to hair-trigger elements of the space – including seating/benches, crosswalks, level-boarding platforms or other serviceability features, and more. 

Ultimately, to plan for and develop bus stops and spaces centered virtually how people wits them is to modernize our cities and towns with largest buses and increasingly unfluctuating natural and built environments that yank sustentation and spark joy. 

The authors would like to thank AdHoc Industries, BostonBRT, transportation advocates, community partners, and artists, including La Colaborativa, Studioful Design, the Human Architecture and Planning Institute (the HAPI), several local artists, and the City of Chelsea‘s Department of Public Works for making the “Flower Walk” possible.  

Ann Sussman, RA, is the President of The Human Architecture and Planning Institute, Inc (theHapi).

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