GDBD: Good Design

Everything around us was created and designed by someone. How well did they design them? For my undergraduate course at Emory College of Arts and Sciences, I was tasked with finding a good design around campus. Good designs are organically and pleasantly embedded into our daily human interactions.

While commuting from my apartment at the Clairmont Campus to the Emory campus via shuttling or walking, I noticed how well designed the gates were along Starvine Way — two half gates with a center passage way for bicyclists and pedestrians. Although I do not ride a bicycle, I have walked through the gate a few times as it provided me a more convenient and efficient route between point A and point B.

In daylight, a centered shot of the Clairmont Campus gate featuring an integrated bicycle lane.
In daylight, a close up of the bicycle friendly gate.

Why is this a good design?

This gate is a good design because in a residential and college area, such as the Clairmont Campus, people rely on different modes of transportation for commuting or recreational activities, thus it is important to provide spaces that promote this diversity. With this gate design, users have more flexibility in how they commute without being inconvenienced by intervening obstacles. These users include drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and college students. The design is intuitive as pedestrians can simply pass through the gate and preserves original functionality of obstructing large vehicles without adding extra details. For example, some places have dedicated bicycle lanes, which require allocating more space and resources to another design, when they can be naturally integrated into already existing designs. This design promotes sharing the road.

Then from a more mechanical perspective, having two smaller gates enables faster and more efficient opening rather than one heavy, large gate swinging open. This is important as every second counts on college campuses. A student may be rushing to their next class, a driver may be making frequent trips back and forth.

This gate design is also more environmentally-friendly as less material is required to keep out unwarranted visitors, and given the gate’s lighter weight load, less energy is required to move it.

In daylight, a distant shot of the bicycle-friendly gate with a sign that explicitly alerts the bicycle lane.

Limitations

The gate design is good, but is it perfect? Mechanically, one potential issue is that there are more moving parts, which increase the likelihood of degrading and breaking over time. Then, from a user perspective, safety is still a concern given that bicyclists may want to ride on the road when vehicles are present — will bicyclists have to weave between cars or inconveniently move out of the way? Users may prefer to use this bicycle lane during low traffic hours; however, since this gate is at a college campus and explicit signage is present, there is social acknowledgement and respect that human commute will vary.

In daylight, a close up of the present bicycle lane sign.

Check out my previous post for a bad design at Emory University!

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A human at the intersection of visual arts, computer science, and data science.

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Randy Truong

Randy Truong

A human at the intersection of visual arts, computer science, and data science.

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