Q+A with CycleHack’s Sarah Drummond

Image Courtesy of CycleHack Facebook

CycleHack aims to make the world a more bikeable place! 

Story by Cayley James

Sarah Drummond is a service designer based out of London, England. You might remember her from our international Bike Spotting feature back in December. In 2009, fresh out of art school, she co-founded the design firm SNOOK. Their aim is to work with organizations to ensure the services they provide enable people to get things done easily. It was a natural evolution to pair her professional pursuits with her personal investment with cycling. Thus CycleHack was born in 2014!

CycleHack is dedicated to making the world more bikeable. The international network's aim is to achieve this through a variety of activities that galvanise local people with unique perspectives and skills, connect them with brands, authorities and city stakeholders to problem solve and re-design the total experience of cycling.

I caught up with Sarah to see how CycleHack has evolved and where it's going next!


In your own words: Where did CycleHack come from? What were its initial goals?

We wanted to make cycling easier for people, reduce barriers to cycling and do it in a way where we empowered people by giving them the platform, space, community and tools to design, making their ideas real quickly and cheaply.

We'd had a conversation over the table that the 'hackathon' format would be ideal for this, so we got it up and running, raised small funds on kickstarter and ran the first one in Glasgow, Beirut and Melbourne.

What did the viral success of “Penny in Yo Pants” give CycleHack? 

It's been a great case study, incredible to put our name on the map. It showed how quickly an idea, if made real and shared with the rest of the world can have an impact.

For those who don’t know much about service design could you explain how it influenced your approach to CycleHack?

Yes - well I run a side company Snook in Glasgow and London and we focus on designing experiences that work for people. Our way of working is to understand people's behaviour through research, how they use a product or service and ultimately improve it by making prototypes of a preferred future, testing it with this audience and implementing a better offer. Service Design, the process more widely of design has been brought directly into CycleHack to skill up people to repeat this approach in a short time, just focused on the end-to-end experience of cycling.

 Moving into 2017 what are your goals for CycleHack?

We want 50 cities this year, and really to get a whole range from friends in a garage to events like we've seen in Amsterdam.

In addition, we're opening up the model for licenses to run all year round, a bit like TedX, so we either support people to run one or hey do it themselves. We're still keen we run the free event yearly with as many places as possible but we've had interest from Governments and Local authorities to run a CycleHack where they are.

We've also opened up a CycleHack Slack community for all year round discussions, so we're keen to build this together.

What are you most proud of the project?

When we get people coming back to us and saying how much they learned, friends they made and that they can't believe they managed to build their ideas in such a short time. Obviously, we're proud of implementation like Penny being featured in Cosmopolitan, CycleHack Brussels meeting their transport minister and Wuppertal getting new cycle schemes up and running. This global network of good stuff happening in cycling by people who never really considered themselves an activist is brilliant!

In creating an international network of local activists what have you been able to learn? 

Lots of lessons! Regular contact and support of the community is vital. As we've primarily self-funded the project it's been difficult to stay on top of all the interest, build a future strategy and grow the network. We've also seen place to place how different cycling barriers exist. In some locations there are no lines on the road and no one cycles, to others where cycling is through the roof so they face other issues like bike parking. It's fun to compare and contract the different groups and their approaches across the globe.


This year's global event will take place September 15-17. Quebec City is the only registered Canadian event but check out their site for more information. But in the mean time swing by the Timbuk2 store today for their first CycleHack Meetup!

Related Articles on dandyhorsemagazine.com

International bike spotting - Sarah Drummond

Winter Cycle Congress Recap

Timbuk2 Grand Opening Party

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