Urban routes and commuting bicyclist’s aesthetic experience

  • Harpa Stefansdottir Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Keywords: Bicycle commuting, aesthetic experience, urban design, bicycle routes, emotional well-being


The present study examines whether and in what way aesthetic experience is involved in the judged quality of bicyclist’s route which they have chosen to ride between home and work. In this respect it is considered important to distinguish aesthetic experience from experience that is related to the influence of instrumental or functional features. The aesthetic impact is primarily related to features that stimulate emotional well-being when cycling. An online survey was conducted in three Nordic cities, Odense, Trondheim and Reykjavík, concentrating on cycling in different urban surroundings. The interpretation of the meanings and values associated with certain features or characteristics that influenced the commuting cyclists’ aesthetic experience is in this paper based on three theoretical viewpoints: (1) the phenomenology of perception and experience, (2) urban design theory and (3) environmental aesthetic theories and methods. The last theory involves the interpretation of experience from the environment into aesthetic meaning. The results of the survey indicate that aesthetic experience is of value to most of the respondents and is, therefore, of importance in developing the quality of bicycle routes for commuting. Greenery and contact with the natural environment and distance from motorised traffic are the most important influences on pleasurable aesthetic experience.

Author Biography

Harpa Stefansdottir, Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Department of Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning
bicyclist by Stavne bridge, Trondheim
How to Cite
Stefansdottir, H. (2014). Urban routes and commuting bicyclist’s aesthetic experience. FormAkademisk - Research Journal of Design and Design Education, 7(2). https://doi.org/10.7577/formakademisk.777