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Julie Harpring

Bloomington by Bike and Bus

As a graduate summer fellow for the Indiana University Sustainability Task Force, I created an interactive map that helps students, faculty, and staff find alternative transportation options so they can ditch their daily car commute.

My Role

User research, interface design, editorial copy, XHTML, CSS, Google Maps API (using Javascript), usability evaluations, findings & recommendations report

Project Overview

Although Indiana University has a rich tradition of sports cycling, very few students, faculty, or staff members ride their bikes to campus on a regular basis. Through my research, I found that many potential bike commuters were unaware of the safest bicycle routes from their homes to campus. In addition, students pay for city and university bus service through student fees, but many still drive alone to campus each day. I was appointed as an IU Sustainability Task Force graduate fellow to investigate ways to encourage more people to take alternative transportation to campus and to create a map that illustrated some of their options.

My Tools & Techniques

  • Analysis of IU Transportation Survey (3,000 respondents) to investigate current barriers to taking alternative transportation
  • Student and faculty interviews about commuting habits
  • Became a bicycle commuter for the summer to put myself in the shoes of users
  • Taught myself the Google Maps API in order to create a map that would be easily accessible online
  • Paper prototype of the map for usability evaluation before buildout
  • Additional usability evaluations during and after buildout


  • Mike Steinhoff: conducted the Spring 2008 Transportation Survey, provided mentorship regarding the city/campus transportation systems, created a geographic coordinate list of bike parking on campus
  • Ian Eschbacher: created a Ruby script to change the bike parking coordinates to a Google-Maps-readable format
  • Michael Hamburger, Rob Fischman, Kent McDaniel: IU Sustainability Task Force Transportation Mentors

Visit the Site

Bloomington By Bike and Bus is currently housed on the IU Sustainability Task Force website but may soon be integrated with the City of Bloomington website.

Media Coverage

My map received coverage from Inside Indiana Business and The Goodspeed Update.

Launch Date

Fall 2008

Screen capture of the Bloomington By Bike and Bus webpage.
Making Bike & Bus Routes Easy to Find:
(Click to enlarge) The left-hand menu on the map allows users to turn layers for bike routes, bike rack locations, and IU bus routes on and off as needed. In the screenshot, on-street bike routes (pink) and off-street bike trails (dark gray) have been turned on.
A close-up of the map with bike rack locations turned on
Taking Care of Users Once They Get There:
Through my research, I found that concerns about adequate bike parking on campus were keeping many potential bicycle commuters from giving it a try. The layer of campus bike racks I created for the map features clickable icons at each rack location that give information about the number of spaces available, the type of rack, and whether it's covered to keep the rain and snow out.