Visualising the Problem

From the extra research into defining the problem, I collated all information to form a timeline. This way April and I could clearly see the developments within Cycling in Beijing’s history.


Number of Bike Users in Beijing

2000 2005 2010 2014
2.2 million 1.7 million 0.9 million 0.8 million

Percentage of Bike Users in Beijing

2000 2005 2010 2014
38.5% 30.3% 16.4% 14%

 Percentage of Car Users in Beijing

2000 2005 2010 2014
23.2% 29.8% 34.2% 33%

 Number of Motor Vehicles in Beijing

2000 2005 2010 2015
0.9 million 1.9 million 4.1 million 5.6 million


  • Failed Bike Share Scheme in Beijing


  • Prior to 2008 Olympics, Beijing implemented a bike share program to help bring the bicycle back to the nation’s capital


  • Scheme had little interest and lost £1 million
  • City gave up on the bike share program


  • Perceptions of bicycles shifted
  • The bicycle was once the social status symbol of China, representing success. This has been replaced by the car
  • People in Beijing perceive the bicycle as outdated and the main mode of transport for the poor


  • Beijing gave bike share another chance to boost the number of cyclists on the road
  • Beijing municipal government funded and launched the system


  • Many of its bicycles sit idly and unused at the stations
  • 64% of feedback was negative
  • Problems included
  • Difficulties ordering the card
  • Requirements for different cards in different areas of the city
  • No specific designed safe cycle lanes


  • Bicycle Mobility Expert Shannon Bufton states “By positioning the bicycle in a way that does not associate it with being poor, and instead as a ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ means of transportation, is the key to drawing more people back to pedaling.”
  • Now it is time to shift the focus towards creating a culture that makes cycling fun and mobilize the bicycle grassroots movement




April and I then went on to visualise this, clearly showing the problem our design was solving. Ensuring the visualisation fit into the visual identity of the overall idea and proposal.

April and I brought this visualisation, along with all other developments for the design of Cycle, together to form a concise, clean and professional proposal for Cycle as an initiative. [as seen in portfolio]

Defining the Problem

One piece of feedback April and I received was that the idea behind our project was not clear enough. We needed to clarify exactly what the problem was we were solving using found facts and stats to explain why what we have designed is needed and appropriate.

We knew what the problem was but in order to present this in a clear way be needed to better understand the problem. Therefore we began researching specific stories that cover:

  • The history of bike use in China
  • The rise of the use of cars
  • The way the status of the bike has changed
  • The introduction of bike share programs
  • The success/failures of bike share programs, particularly in Beijing
  • Facts, figures and statistics surrounding these areas
The Bicycle as Symbol of China's Transformation
The Bicycle as Symbol of China’s Transformation


The (D)Evolution of Bicycling and Bike Share in China and Beijing
The (D)Evolution of Bicycling and Bike Share in China and Beijing


Coming Full Cycle in China
Coming Full Cycle in China


China's Bike Sharing Battle
China’s Bike Sharing Battle


Reinventing the Bicycle in Beijing
Reinventing the Bicycle in Beijing


Reinventing the Wheel
Reinventing the Wheel


From here, we now have a clearer idea of what the problem is and therefore we can take the most appropriate pieces of information to display clearly to the audience.

Identity and Idea Development

April and I have been working together one day a week, alongside other projects, to try and improve the elements of CYCLE that we had previously identified needed improving. Our overall aim when developing these elements was to:

  • Create a more unified identity
  • Make the design more user friendly and target audience/context appropriate
  • Make the explanatory illustrations and animations clearer
  • Improve the technical sophistication of our work (skill level)
  • Incorporate the technology behind the idea more

These improvements covered:

  • Website/App design
  • Bottle Bin design
  • Public Bikes design
  • Canopy visualization
  • Idea Visualization

Developments shown below.






Feedback from Pitch to Sennep and Next Steps

Feedback from the pitch to Sennep and Jaygo:

  • Where else could this initiative be applied?
  • Are there other ways in which it can be put to good use?
  • Where are the places where recycling, particularly of plastic bottles, is needed?
  1. Event Spaces
  2. Music Festivals
  3. London Marathon
  4. Etc.
  • What is the Next Step?
  • How can we move forward in terms of prototypes? Could we get this working? Explore materials and technology.


From this feedback, April and I came up with a plan of what we wanted to improve and how we wanted to move the project forward. In terms of technical improvements, there were certain areas that needed attention:

  • Typeface selection
  • Website function
  • Gradient of Bottle Bin
  • Public Bike visualization
  • Technology explanation (alongside canopy creation)

By doing these things, we hope to be able to create more of a unified portfolio of work which also explains the initiative, as well as a film that shows the whole process rather than just the problem. When we re-create the film we want to be able to create visual identity that runs throughout all of the film as well as all of our work.


From here the next stage would be prototypes. I would like to be able to explore how the technology could actually work; perhaps just with the small mock up of the bun to see how motion affects the lights and how you can visually track this. This will definitely be something to think about and something I would like to pursue however time will be an issue.

Pitch Presentation

April and I had been working together for the last week, collating all of the elements of the identity and creating all of the visuals we thought we needed to demonstrate our idea. We now needed to bring these elements together in a clear and concise way. We decided to do this in the form of a presentation, which needed to include films, animation, gifs and stills. We used the structure of the original script; adapting it to suit the improved features of our design, so create a rough storyboard of the presentation pitch. From here, we roughly began bringing the elements together, mainly to get a clearer understanding of what we had collectively and how this would best flow. We then gradually refined this, creating a unified pitch.

Visualising the General Idea

Using similar techniques that I used in the previous animation that Jaygo had shown us, I created a final moving graphic to explain the idea as a general, bringing it into the intended environment. I tracked the movement around a map of Beijing using lights and also incorporated the Bottle Bins to show how these would be dotted around and colour be used on the go. This graphic also needs a lot more development as April and I take the idea forward after the pitch, however, it does get the basic idea of the initiative across clearly.

Visualising the Shadows

Although I was happy with the clarity and the simplicity of the Canopy Animation, it didn’t really capture the experience that the cyclists get, with the coloured shadows of the bottles on the ground. Therefore I decided to create a separate GIF that would demonstrate this element.

For the layout of this idea I thought the looking at the canopy from above would be the most suitable viewpoint. From previous illustrations I had created I took the shape of the bottle from above and mocked up the pattern of the canopy. I used the colour gradients April had made to create coloured bottles and also mocked up coloured bottle shadows. Bring all these elements together in After Effects, I used the techniques Jaygo had shown us to create the idea of motion below which activated the bottle lights and then created a shadow on the path. This needs tweaking before the final film however; I think the basic idea is represented. Creating these explanatory animations has helped me think about how the design will work most efficiently. For example, creating this one has made me think that perhaps coloured lights is more effective and will create a bolder colour on the floor compared to using coloured dye or colouring the bottles somehow. These could be factors to consider as April and I move forward with the design of the idea.

Canopy Shadows GIF
Canopy Shadows GIF

Creating the Canopy

The idea of the canopy has proved fairly complex to explain; therefore we needed to find a simple way to visually demonstrate how this canopy is formed and how it works. Originally I tried creating the canopy in Illustrator but then realized that it would be a lot more fluid to create the whole canopy in After Effects while animating it. This would create a more understandable visual. I storyboarded a rough idea of how to do this and then went on to create the main element of the bottle, both with and without a coloured light. I then took all of these elements and learnt various techniques in After Effects to follow the desired aim of my storyboard. Some elements needed tweaking from the storyboard because of technical difficulties once I started animating and also because I wanted to make it as simple yet effective as possible. This animation can now be used in the pitch.



Problem Film

Our final plan is to create a concise film that explains the problem, our solution, the design and how it works. However, to begin with, and for the pitch at Sennep, we decided to just focus on the problem with the film. We had already written a script for the whole idea, and found some audio and visual files that could be used in the film.

From here April and I edited the script, focusing on the first section which introduced the problem. April broke this down into three sections, which matched with the flow of the selected music. I then took each section and simplified it to its core meaning, in order to provide quotes that could be included in the video. We then recorded me reading the script which could be used along side the music, ensuring that the two complimented each other and you could still hear what I was saying and we’re distracted by the music.

April then worked on bringing the film together using Premiere Pro. Using the visuals I had found, and finding new visuals which could be used to compliment, illustrate and exaggerate what was being said in the voice over. We collectively discussed this as making it, reviewing whether or not it was concise enough and achieving its aim. While we did this, we both contributed to editing the film. This film was intended to be used at the beginning of our presentation and would then lead on to us talking about our idea and how it works.


Animating the Bottle Bin Concept

As mentioned previously, to demonstrate the use of the bin we were going to create a simple animation that brought the CYCLE Card, the recycled bottles and the responsive bin together. I took the Bottle Bin I had designed in Illustrator, keeping all the colour layers in tact; I animated it in After Effects. I did this in a fairly simple way, showing how the card is inserted first followed by your recycled bottle. I then demonstrated the responsive part by activating the lights as the bottle dropped down the bin. I also included the lights fading after a small period of time to show how the bin will return to grey if nothing has been recycled. Hopefully this animation gets the idea across of how simple it is to top up your card and how mesmerizing the reactive Bottle Bin could be. I can then be used to explain how, the more you recycle the more colorful the Bottle Bins will be in the bigger picture of a street, or a neighborhood or an entire city.

I used this process of the colours fading in and out as I thought it would be the simplest way to get the idea across. However, if I had more time to animate it as well as gain more knowledge and skills with the software, I would have liked to be able to create a slightly more complex responsive Bottle Bin. The process would be exactly the same. However, rather than the lights just fading in and fading out, I would have preferred to have been able to make the coloured circles spiral down the bin. I think this motion would be more mesmerizing and magical. It would also reinforce the idea of the wheels turning to connect with the cycling element of the idea, as well as creating amore fluid motion down the Bottle Bin to track the movement of the bottle. This is something I would like to explore more when I have the time to improve my digital skills, perhaps for the final pitch film where the idea if explained as a whole.