Dear Driver
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    Dear Driver Dear Driver Document Transcript

    • Dear Driver, Let’s take the time to listen to each other… Improving listening between motorists and cyclists. Gel Conference Listening Challenge Proposal October 26, 2009 Project Website: www.DearDriver.org Team: Erik Fabian, Principal Double Happiness LLC www.DoubleHappinessNYC.com & Josh Weinstein, Founder Inside Cinema Inc. www.InsideCinema.net Contact: Erik Fabian Erik@DoubleHappinessNYC.com 646-387-2721 hello@doublehappinessnyc.com | 646-387-2721 | 453 Classon Ave, #2, Bklyn, NY 11238 www.DoubleHappinessNYC.com
    • Dear Driver: Summary IN RESPONSE TO THE GEL CONFERENCE LISTENING CHALLENGE, WE INVESTIGATED THE LISTENING CHALLENGES BETWEEN CYCLISTS AND MOTORISTS, IN PARTICULAR THE MOMENT OF THE NEAR- ACCIDENT IN THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT. OUR RESPONSE IS AN ADVOCACY PROJECT: DEAR DRIVER. SOLUTION: Our prototyped solution is an advocacy project: Dear Driver. Dear Driver promotes effective listening and communication first at the site of the near-accident between cyclists and motorists and then online. • We have created a Dear Driver Letter, which cyclists can distribute to motorists who make them feel unsafe on the road. • We promote civil and effective communication, modeled in videos that illustrate the delivery of a Dear Driver Letter, and how to use effective listening to diffuse hostility. • Our plan is to test approaches to enable cyclists and motorist, who have exchanged a Dear Driver Letter, to communicate privately, securely, and more leisurely online to better promote mutual understanding. • Our initial videos and Dear Driver Letters can be found at: www.deardriver.org. RATIONAL: We observe that cyclists and motorist are extremely focused in the moment of a near accident, but lack time, in-the-midst of traffic, to use effective listening techniques to achieve mutual understanding. Lacking time creates a specific and difficult listening challenge…especially when mixed with a history of animosity between cyclists and motorist, limited physical space, and misunderstandings about the laws governing urban cycling. Also, a review of alternative transportation advocacy and cycling websites revealed that most publicly available information focuses on 1) bike safety tips, 2) what-to-do’s in case of an accident, and 3) advocacy intended to encourage revisions to transportation laws and traffic patterns to benefit cyclists. While infrastructure improvements, legal revisions, and preventive safety measures are important information, little effort has been taken to consider cyclist/motorist communication. If we leave aside pornographic “road-rage” videos, and basic instruction on how to use hand-signals, the cyber-landscape is bare. IMPACT: We see Dear Driver as an opportunity to improve the listening experience of some of the estimated 44.7 million Americans, age seven and older, who rode a bicycle in 2008 – as well as their motorist counterparts.i We believe greater understanding and improved communication can only give cyclists more credibility as advocates for infrastructure improvements and legal change. Improved communication can help both cyclists and motorist self-correct dangerous behavior and help prevent some of the 698 bicycle deaths and 43,000 injuries that were reported nationally in 2007 from recurring. This is an improvement that would contribute to saving the almost $5.4 billion per year in economic costs attributed to bicycling deaths and injuries.ii hello@doublehappinessnyc.com | 646-387-2721 | 453 Classon Ave, #2, Bklyn, NY 11238 www.DoubleHappinessNYC.com
    • Definition and Goal of Effective Listening We understand listening to be a higher order operation than hearing, one with the goal of mutual understanding. Larry Alan Nadig, Ph.D, a clinical Psychologist explains: There is a real distinction between merely hearing the words and really listening for the message. When we listen effectively we understand what the person is thinking and/or feeling from the other person’s own perspective. It is as if we were standing in the other person’s shoes, seeing through his/her eyes and listening through the person's ears. Our own viewpoint may be different and we may not necessarily agree with the person, but as we listen, we understand from the other's perspective. To listen effectively, we must be actively involved in the communication process, and not just listening passively.iii When announcing the Gel Listening Challenge, Mark Hurst succinctly describes the challenge of effective listening on his Good Experience blog: Listening - real listening - is difficult because it requires a real investment: of focus, and empathy, and time. Worse yet, it's not even clear what the payoff is going to be.iv Listening is not just receiving a communication but understanding the communication in context. Listening also requires giving the time and attention to the person sending the communication so that they recognize and feel they have been understood. Any particular act of listening is dynamic and complicated. No person seeking general ways to listen better will fail to find reams of information on tactics for effective listening. So then, to improve listening we have chosen to look for ways to minimize the challenges to listening in a specific situation…so effective tactics can be effectively employed. Listening in Urban Traffic By reflecting on personal experience and through interviews with New York City cyclists and motorist, it quickly becomes clear that urban transportation is fraught with potential conflict and listening challenges. It is particularly difficult for motorists and cyclists who share the confined space of an urban street within the rapid flow of city traffic to allow for the focus, time, and empathy for effective listening. To narrow our approach we focus our analysis specifically on the moment of a motorist/cyclist near-accident, and how to improve the listening experience in that moment. We believe that the near-accident is an interesting site for investigation because of the apparent polarity of the listening experience. On one hand, we observe that cyclists and motorist are hello@doublehappinessnyc.com | 646-387-2721 | 453 Classon Ave, #2, Bklyn, NY 11238 www.DoubleHappinessNYC.com
    • extremely focused in the moment of a near-accident, but, on the other hand, they lack the time in the midst of traffic to achieve mutual understanding of each other. A list of listening challenge facing cyclists and motorists includes: 1) traffic – an often fast, high stress, chaotic environment 2) a physical and social power imbalance between cars, bikes, and pedestrians 3) cars often present a physical barrier to communicating 4) space is limited 5) a history of animosity between motorists and cyclists 6) regular misunderstandings about laws governing cyclists on the road Lacking time to listen, paired with a history of animosity between cyclists and motorist, limited physical space, and misunderstandings about the laws governing urban cycling creates a specific and difficult listening challenge. Current Lack of Information and Advocacy A review of alternative transportation advocacy and cycling websitesv revealed that most publicly available information focuses on: 1) bike safety tips 2) what-to-do’s in case of an accident 3) advocacy intended to encourage revisions to transportation laws and traffic patterns to benefit cyclists. While we believe infrastructure improvements, legal revisions, and preventive safety measures are important information; little effort has been taken to consider cyclist/motorist communication through the frame of improving listening. If we leave aside pornographic “road-rage” videos, and basic instruction on how to use hand- signals, the cyber-landscape is bare. Considering the apparent distrust that exists among many cyclists and motorists, there seems to be a clear opportunity to intervene and mediate a negative dialogue that is being reinforced daily in the streets. Solutions should not be difficult or expensive to implement since there is already a great deal of general information on effective communication and listening available online. A redirection and reframing of available information for cyclists and motorist alone would be a significant improvement to this particular listening challenge. hello@doublehappinessnyc.com | 646-387-2721 | 453 Classon Ave, #2, Bklyn, NY 11238 www.DoubleHappinessNYC.com
    • Solutions and Rational Our prototyped solution is an advocacy project called Dear Driver. Dear Driver promotes effective listening and communication first at the site of the near-accident between cyclists and motorists and then online. The first Dear Driver initiative is a Dear Driver Letter, which cyclists can distribute to motorists who make them feel unsafe on the road. The letter consists of two sections: 1) a first person description of biking in the city that explains the reason for giving the letter, and 2) a few factual tips on sharing the responsibility of sharing the road. The letter is used because it is a slower form of communication: one that can express more nuanced information than a street-side screaming match, and one that provides a physical link to the experience of the near-accident. The letter is also too much information to digest in traffic and contains an email address for response…effectively shifting the communication out of traffic, to a time of greater leisure, and then invites a reply. Currently the driver’s response goes to the Dear Driver team, but eventually we imagine a secure, private message-forwarding system for allowing the driver to respond to the biker directly, if they desire. This is a listening and communication advocacy project to promote mutual understanding, so including the drivers voice is important to us. Until we have implemented an effective way to create a secure dialogue we emphasize modeling a forthright, caring, and civil tone. We promote civil and effective communication, modeled in videos that illustrate the delivery of a Dear Driver Letter, and have posted a video on a 3-step process to use effective listening to diffuse hostility. Our goal is to diffuse conflict with short-term tactical interventions and to reduce deaths in the long term by increasing empathy among the stakeholders. By taking leadership on the issue, cyclists would improve their moral standing and become better advocates for infrastructure changes that must be reached by political processes. Our initial videos and Dear Driver Letters can be found at: www.deardriver.org. We feel cyclists rather than the drivers are an effective place to start our intervention because they are agile movers in traffic. Unlike motorist, or pedestrians, cyclists can effectively maneuver to confront a driver after a near-accident or at the next stoplight. Cyclists also tend to band together in tight social communities. We believe these cycling communities are responsive to advocacy and notions of self-governance. In our interviews, cyclists commented on having similar ideas as our Dear Driver letter and would love to have such a message to deliver. We suspect that carrying a Dear Driver letter would be a symbol of membership and would motivate compliance community norms of safe cycling. We believe that cyclists, as a physically weaker force on the road have an incentive to band together, so any initiative embraced by the cyclist community would have a good chance to go viral. hello@doublehappinessnyc.com | 646-387-2721 | 453 Classon Ave, #2, Bklyn, NY 11238 www.DoubleHappinessNYC.com
    • Impact Cycling is certainly a popular pastime; with more than a quarter of all Americans take a spin on a bike at some point as recently as 2002vi. Cycling also takes on an ethical importance as an alternative form of transportation in an age of fears over global warming and a period of financial crisis when unemployed people look for affordable transportation options. We see Dear Driver as an opportunity to improve the listening experience of some of the estimated 44.7 million Americans age seven and older who rode a bicycle more than 6 times in 2008 - as well as their motorist counterparts.vii There is no biking license required for taking up cycling, so a community of users with an uneven grasp of safe biking norms is sharing the streets with licensed motorists. Improved communication can help both cyclists and motorist self-correct dangerous behavior and help prevent some of the 698 bicycle deaths and 43,000 injuries that were reported nationally in 2007 from recurring. An improvement that would contribute to saving the almost $5.4 billion per year in economic costs attributed to bicycling deaths and injuries.viii Cycling is a 6 billion dollar industry with 18.5 million bicycles sold in 2008ix so it is certainly not going away any time soon. Certainly long-term infrastructure improvement and legal changes are necessary to make the street safer for both cyclists and motorist, but to get there we believe greater understanding and improved communication can only give cyclists more credibility as advocates of change. Next Steps We have initiated the Dear Driver project with just a few offerings and our now asking for feedback from users to refine our approach. We imagine additional initiatives including: • Aggregating and enabling users to submit tools and tactics for effective listening and communicating at the site of the near-accident. • First responder certification training and advocacy program that would provide cyclist with a simple tactics to help fellow travelers by diffusing roadside conflict and promoting listening. • We propose a parallel marketing campaign that advertises Dear Driver, but more importantly, raises awareness in motorists and pedestrians that cyclists are interested in improving listening between cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians. We also wish to support effective cyclist-to-cyclist communication using similar approaches. • Creating driver’s and pedestrian’s letters for use within traffic and online. • Creating additional materials and tools for motorists and pedestrians so they can also help create greater understanding on the streets. hello@doublehappinessnyc.com | 646-387-2721 | 453 Classon Ave, #2, Bklyn, NY 11238 www.DoubleHappinessNYC.com
    • Conclusion We believe the moment of the near-accident is an interesting point of intervention because the danger of the moment inspires intense focus. The challenge of communicating at the site of a near-accident, in traffic, is the lack of time for effective communication. Dear Driver attempts to increase empathy and factual understanding between motorists and cyclists, by leveraging the focus of the near-accident moment, by extending the conversation post incident via a letter, and them enabling a more civil dialogue online. hello@doublehappinessnyc.com | 646-387-2721 | 453 Classon Ave, #2, Bklyn, NY 11238 www.DoubleHappinessNYC.com
    • Team Biographies Dear Driver was developed in collaboration as a Double Happiness Workgroup. Part think-tank, part R&D lab for creatives, Double Happiness Workgroups bring together curated interdisciplinary teams to identify new opportunities and create new intellectual properties. Facilitated discussions on broad topics help identify specific, actionable questions and then lead the group to find collaborative solutions. Erik Fabian (Team Lead) Double Happiness' founder Erik Fabian helps people, brands, and organizations: innovate, collaborate, and build meaningful relationships. He designs events, creates experiences for marketing companies, facilitates groups for brainstorms and research, and helps organizations develop more sustainable businesses with better communication. As a graduate of the Masters of Fine Art program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Erik's approaches are rooted in the methodologies of contemporary art. He still maintains an art practice that focuses on performance and installation art. Erik is an occasional biker, and periodic driver, and a constant walker. www.DoubleHappinessNYC.com Josh Weinstein Inside Cinema's founder Josh Weinstein is passionate about the use of video as a transformative tool for individuals and organizations. He works as a media artist exploring issues of identity and perception as well as inside organizations driving change, culture and innovation. Inside Cinema uses documentary video to bring business to life and facilitate authentic conversations that allow people to see through a new lens. Inside Cinema was created after incubating the approach as an employee at American Express in 2000. Business Week profiled his innovative use of video as a tool for culture change with Ivy Ross, one of their “Top 25 Most Innovative Execs.” He has been a guest speaker at the MBA Program at Robins School of Business, SUNY Purchase and many industry conferences. Weinstein’s video work has been exhibited in galleries, museums and film festivals internationally. He is also an avid urban cyclist and has helped many friends start riding safely in New York City. www.InsideCinema.net hello@doublehappinessnyc.com | 646-387-2721 | 453 Classon Ave, #2, Bklyn, NY 11238 www.DoubleHappinessNYC.com
    • Endnotes i “…according to the National Sporting Goods Association.” http://nbda.com/page.cfm?pageID=34 ii http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/facts/crash-facts.cfm iii http://www.drnadig.com/listening.htm iv http://goodexperience.com/2009/09/a-thought-on-listenin.php v Including: Transportation Alternatives, (www.transalt.org/resources); Bicyclinginfo.org, (www.bicyclinginfo.org); Alternative Transportation Resources, (www.daclarke.org/AltTrans/); Coalitions For Alternative Transportation, (www.car-free.org); Urban Cycling, (www.urbancycling.com). vi http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/facts/crash-facts.cfm vii “…according to the National Sporting Goods Association.” http://nbda.com/page.cfm?pageID=34 viii http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/facts/crash-facts.cfm ix hello@doublehappinessnyc.com | 646-387-2721 | 453 Classon Ave, #2, Bklyn, NY 11238 www.DoubleHappinessNYC.com