Erin Williams

Practice Area


University of Washington


Project Vision

VeloCity is a comprehensive system for helping convey information about bicycling resources to potential riders. Created by Erin Williams as her MFA thesis project in Visual Communication Design at the University of Washington, it focuses on urban bicycle commuting and uses the city of Seattle as a case study to test design and sociological conclusions.

The program includes a new concept for the Seattle Bicycling Guide Map, eliminating redundant and visually confusing features and employing a color scheme that clearly suggests at a glance which routes are easiest for new cyclists. The back of the map serves as a poster that bike-friendly businesses can hang in their windows to promote cycling. It also visually coordinates with BikeStops that Williams proposes be placed around the city.

BikeStops (one per neighborhood) would be equipped with the Bicycling Guide Map, locational data, water, and tire pumps. The stops would support cyclists and make cycling resources visible in a way that shows it is supported and considered a normal transportation option. Williams’ design uses old bike parts to make their purpose obvious and to relate to Seattle’s urban crafting and sculptural roots.

Williams also proposes route signage and ground markings that would provide clear directions for cyclists and also be visible to motorists, thus helping reduce tensions caused by unexpected bike crossings.

The communication approach centers around fully supporting route planning and route following, and also presenting information in a clear, easy-to-use, and friendly tone to increase the social acceptance and excitement around bicycling. The use of bright green for all the elements (bike maps, route signage, ground markings, and BikeStops) ties the system together and reinforces recognition.

After presenting VeloCity as her MFA thesis in Spring 2009, Williams worked with the Seattle Department of Transportation to develop the Seattle Bicycling Guide Map 2010.

Project Details
The jury was especially impressed by the amount of time, effort, and thought that was put into this student work. It is on par, and in fact superior, to many of the professional entries that we received in the same category in terms of layout, clarity, breadth, and depth. This student put her heart and soul into this project, and the passion shows.This study is presented as a comprehensive, creative, and well argued case, and the jury fully expected it to be a commissioned and professionally produced piece of work. As an MFA student thesis it is outstanding. The ideas are inventive and well visualized; the background, business case, and metrics are well researched and argued; and the overall case and solutions are compelling. It is a field where detailed studies are starting to appear and this should be a published report that adds to and advances the case for cycle use throughout urban environments.
Juror 1
Design Team

Instructors: Kristine Matthews (thesis advisor), Karen Cheng (committee member)

Design Firm

Erin Williams


Watermark Press (book printing), Alchemy Goods (book cover material),
Production Plating (material sample powdercoating), Graffix (exhibit vinyl)