Item author
Rachelle Bugeaud
Item Created
16 Jun 2010
Photo taken on
17 Jun 2010 7:44 am
17 Jun 2010 7:44 am
16 Jun 2010 12:40 pm
16 Jun 2010 3:33 pm
17 Jun 2010 1:09 pm
17 Jun 2010 1:10 pm
17 Jun 2010 12:57 pm
17 Jun 2010 12:58 pm
17 Jun 2010 12:58 pm

Adhering to the New Pattern

A cyclist decides to park his bicycle into the existing pattern of bicycles. He originally came from the other direction and walked his bicycle around to have his bike facing the same direction as all of the other ones.

Reacting to the New Pattern

A cyclist notices the change, analyzes the situation and decides to park his bicycle into the row of parked bikes.

Experiment Sketch

A sketch of the experiment. The before and after state of the bicycles.

Filling in Gaps

A sketch demonstrating how people fill in the gaps in rows of bicycles.

A Smaller Row of Bicycles

A smaller collection of bicycles can be found parked beside a garbage bin.

A Row of Bicycles

A row of bicycles found in downtown Cologne.

New State

Here we can see the result of the rearrangement. A lot of bikes have been removed, others have re-assumed their original location.


At night, we rearranged the pattern of the bicycles into a perpendicular row.

Original State

The original state of the train station parking situation. The bicycles are arranged against the walls. The rental bikes form their own group.

Context of the observation

This observation took place in front of Cologne's Main Train Station where a large concentration of bicycles are located. Of these bicycles, most are city bikes belonging to commuters (people who must travel to a different city by train in order to work). However there is also a smaller concentration of rental bicycles which are usually forming their own separated pack.

The bicycles are parked parallel to (following) the wall where a couple of bicycle racks are provided. Some bicycles are leaned against the wall since they do not have kick-stands.

We observed this pattern during the daytime (mid day afternoon) and then came back late at night to rearrange the bicycles into neat rows, perpendicular to the wall. We wanted to observe the behavior of the German people - whether they would continue parking their bicycles against the wall like they usually do, or whether they would adapt to the new pattern that we created. 


Hauptbahnhof, Cologne


1 Interpretation

The morning after we had rearranged the bicycles, we came back to observe the change in the pattern. A lot of bicycles had been removed from the row that we had created. However, many bicycles were still found lined-up parallel to the wall, leaned up against the wall and locked up to the staircase, just as they were the day before. It seems that people lock up their bicycles on a daily basis and are therefore use to parking their bicycles in the same location each day, no matter if there are changes in the surrounding pattern.

We did observe some people parking their bicycles into gaps which formed in the new pattern we had created. This suggests that people tend to want to complete structures and patterns, to make them look as complete as possible.

The Deutsche Bahn (rental bicycles) were also moved a little further from where they were originally placed. This happened since the line of bicycles which we created now occupied the original area that the rental bicycles occupied. The people who put back the rental bicycles kept a gap between our row of bicycles and their pack of bikes to facilitate the flow of traffic (and perhaps to give the rental bikes their own identity).

Rachelle Bugeaud
17 Jun 2010

7 Questions & 0 Responses

How does the amount of time spent parking a bicycle influence the resulting pattern ?

Rachelle Bugeaud
17 Jun 2010

How is the pattern of parked bicycles influenced by the surrounding architecture/available parking possibilities (such as bike posts, bike racks, street lights, etc) ?

Rachelle Bugeaud
17 Jun 2010

Are patterns created by parameters others than just the amount of bicycles? Perhaps different patterns emerge depending on the bicycle types, user groups, or the time of pattern forming.

For example: do lower quality bicycles create different patterns? Will bicycles who are being parked for a short time be grouped differently than longer period parked bicycles?

Jonathan McTaggart
17 Jun 2010

What patterns are created using bicycles? Can complex patterns be provoked into creation?

Jonathan McTaggart
17 Jun 2010

What would be the most space efficient parking pattern?

Gabriel Jacobi
18 Jun 2010

Which stimulus would make people develop an intended pattern?

Gabriel Jacobi
18 Jun 2010

How can we take advantage of knowing that people tend to form patterns?

Guido Göbbels
17 Jun 2010