This month marks the first anniversary of CycleHack, an event that seeks to find positive hacks to change barriers to cycling in cities.
Founded by Sarah Drummond, Jo Holtan and a cup of coffee in 2014, the magic began once Matthew Lowell joined the team and in just one year CycleHack has turned from a small event into a Global Movement with over 35 cities worldwide signing up!
Starting the conversation
I spoke with Sarah to find out how she feels about CycleHack growing so quickly and why it’s taken off as it has;
“I think we’ve tapped into a latent talent and passion across the globe for being on two wheels. But I think it’s more than just about cycling. There’s a growing number of citizens who want to take action into their own hands and make the environment around them better, more enjoyable, cleaner. CycleHack has grown quickly because it feels good, it’s involving, it’s pro-active and we make it a fun event too.
We purposefully designed the model to be inclusive and open to bring people onboard so created the Hack Pack for local chapters, everything we created was and is open. I think that intentional approach has helped it to grow but honestly, I didn’t expect we’d reach 30 cities this year, that’s still a bit of a surprise.”
Having just won the Core77 Design Award it seems there’s no stopping this impressive movement from slowing down anytime soon.
“We forgot we had entered! We found out via Twitter that we’d won, one of the Snook team said ‘Hey, I think CycleHack just won the Core77 Design Award for Social Impact’. We were quite shocked but also just that little bit pleased, given the other entrants were of such a high quality and from some of the leading design agencies like IDEO who, as a young designer, inspired me to move towards more social design.
My feeling on the role of designers now is to move from expert into facilitators and I was pleased the judges awarded something that was perhaps a little less traditional than design consultancy approach and the creation of an open design offering.”
What did you learn from last year’s events? Anything different to bring to this years?
“We learned a huge amount about how people respond to the tools, what kind of ideas get created depending on how you facilitate the event. We had a researcher interview the other two hosts in Beirut and Melbourne to find out where we could improve. In response we created a hack pack to guide people through the event.
This year is still a prototype, on how to run this at scale and particularly with hosts who may not have come from a traditional design background (where we come from) so we’re learning from the questions we’re asked, being as responsive as we can and documenting all of the process so we can redesign it for next year.”
Learn by doing seems to be a key theme and with plenty of enthusiasm for cycling already, the passion to make Manchester a more cycling friendly city wasn’t hard to come by.
— CycleHack Manchester (@CycleHackMCR) June 10, 2015
Vimla Appadoo from SpacePortX, who are holding this year’s event in Manchester, told us why it’s important to get involved with CycleHack.
“It’s a great way to bring people from all different walks of life together for one common goal…ring people together to make Manchester more sustainable through cycling by making cycling safer and more accessible for everyone. It’s a weekend where we can really change the city that we live in… whilst having fun!”
The weekend event promises some inspiring speakers including Steve Connor – Co-founder of Creative Concern, Lauren Currie – Programme Leader at Hyper Island, Tom Rowlands – Programme Manager at FutureEverything, Pavol Gajdos – Manchester Bike Hire to name a few.
— Common Good (@commgoodco) June 2, 2015
And what are Sarah and the team’s plans for the future of CycleHack?
“We are developing a CycleHack challenge platform so companies interested in running a CycleHack to develop products with the community can work with us to do so; and we can see more impact across the board. We’ve had discussions with a few brands and it’s looking positive so watch this space! What’s great is that we are already a global company, we can work in partnership with local hosts and hackers if something is geographically based or specialist. I think that’s an exciting prospect to have a global network we can find ways to work with in the future on CycleHack.
We are building some more comment and networking into our platforms so we can really focus on follow up and impact after CycleHack so this will be key for us, to keep engaging the community post CycleHack. We’ll be packaging up our toolkits to support organisations to learn how to design and rapidly prototype ideas in-house. We’ve also been funded to develop an education model for CycleHack that focuses on learning for young people. I’m quite excited about this as it really develops both place-making and STEM skills through the lens of getting more young folk on bikes.
And we’re looking to turn the Global movement into a not for profit Social Enterprise to continue the positive ethos behind this element of CycleHack and focus on common good.”
With the vision to empower people, organisations and governments to collaborate and co-create in order to prototype and reimagine how we might build a healthier and sustainable world – it’s no wonder CycleHack has taken off at speed. They definitely have our full support!
Here’s a video from last year to truly get you in the mood.
Find out how to get involved at: