Active Mobility User Experience: a framework for a better understanding


  • Mahtab BaghaiePoor Technical University of Munich


Active Mobility, User Experience, Theoretical Framework




Problem Statement:

Contemporary urban challenges such as health issues, air pollution, climate change, and space scarcity (Pogačar and Šenk, 2021; Mela and Girardi, 2022) necessitate a shift in the future of urban mobility towards active modes of transport. However, despite the evident benefits, many cities worldwide remain entrenched in a car-oriented mobility culture (Koszowski et al., 2019). To dive deeper into the constraints of increasing active modes’ share in cities, this research focuses on the human-environment interactions in walking and cycling. In this regard, we want to develop a better understanding of what constitutes the daily walking/cycling user experience and how should we study that as a fundamental strategy to promote a shift in daily mode choice decisions towards active mobility. Studying the  details of human-environment interactions lies in the necessity of capturing user experience in mobility (Müller and Meyer, 2019). User experience (UX) encapsulates the multifaceted dimensions of an individual's interaction with the urban environment during their daily commute. It goes beyond the physical act of movement, encompassing emotions, perceptions, and the overall quality of the journey. By delving into user experiences, planners gain insights into the factors that either encourage or discourage the adoption of active modes, providing a foundation for evidence-based decision-making.

To conceptualize user experience within the field of mobility, with a focus on UX for active modes, this study explores existing literature on walking and cycling user experiences systematically, revealing an absence of a comprehensive framework to apprehend and analyze the multifaceted elements shaping the UX of active mobility. In response to this gap, this research introduces a novel framework tailored to study the UX of active mobility modes. The framework is structured around three interconnected dimensions: the built environment, the natural environment, and subjective characteristics.


The methodology used in this research is a systematic literature review. The review process involved searching for relevant literature in various databases, including Google Scholar, Scopus, and Web of Science. The search was conducted using keywords such as "active mobility", “walking”, “cycling”, "user experience", and "framework". The inclusion criteria for the literature were that it should be published in English, peer-reviewed, and relevant to the topic of active mobility user experience.


The results of the literature review led to the introduction of a framework to study user experience in active modes. The framework contains three main components: built environment, natural environment, and subjective characteristics. We believe this framework is concise, comprehensive and applicable to various contexts and enables researchers as well as practitioners to investigate and enhance the daily experience of pedestrians and cyclists.

The built environment component of the framework is essential because it provides the physical infrastructure for active mobility. The quality of the built environment can significantly affect the user experience of active modes. For example, poorly maintained sidewalks or bike lanes can make it difficult and unsafe for users to travel. On the other hand, well-maintained infrastructure can make active modes more accessible and enjoyable for users. The natural environment component includes the natural surroundings, such as parks and green spaces and weather conditions. These elements can play a significant role in improving the activity’s pleasure and comfort.

Lastly, The subjective characteristics component includes the psychological and emotional aspects of the user experience, such as attitudes, perceptions, and emotions. For example, if user is in a bad mood, or have negative memories of certain walking/cycling situations, this can possibly affect their mode choice at the moment. On the other hand, if user perceives active modes as enjoyable and beneficial, they may opt for active modes as a mediating activity.


Koszowski, C. et al. (2019) ‘Active Mobility: Bringing Together Transport Planning, Urban Planning, and Public Health’, in B. Müller and G. Meyer (eds) Towards User-Centric Transport in Europe: Challenges, Solutions and Collaborations. Cham: Springer International Publishing (Lecture Notes in Mobility), pp. 149–171. Available at:

Mela, G. and Girardi, P. (2022) ‘Health effects of active mobility and their economic value: Unit benefit factor estimates for Italy’, Journal of Transport & Health, 26, p. 101487. Available at:

Müller, B. and Meyer, G. (eds) (2019) Towards User-Centric Transport in Europe: Challenges, Solutions and Collaborations. Cham: Springer International Publishing (Lecture Notes in Mobility). Available at:

Pogačar, K. and Šenk, P. (2021) ‘Sustainable Transformation of City Streets – Towards a Holistic Approach’, in A. Rotaru (ed.) Critical Thinking in the Sustainable Rehabilitation and Risk Management of the Built Environment. Cham: Springer International Publishing (Springer Series in Geomechanics and Geoengineering), pp. 273–282. Available at: