Wheels, Heels, and Pedals Website Enhancements

Sponsor: ReMain Nantucket and the Nantucket Planning & Zoning Office
Sponsor Liaison: Rachel Hobart, Project Manager, ReMain
Mike Burns, Transportation Planner, Nanucket Planning & Zoning Office
Student Team: Max Arnold, Toby-Lian Edovas, Sandra Garcia-Fine, Junyu Zhu
Abstract: The Nantucket website “Wheels, Heels, and Pedals” was created in 2003 to provide information on and promote alternative methods of transportation to Nantucket residents and visitors. The goal of this project was to enhance the current website for a more interactive and educational use for visitors of all ages. This project is expected to be a multi-year project with the ultimate goal of reducing auto-dependency and traffic congestion on Nantucket. This project was sponsored by ReMain Nantucket and the Town of Nantucket Planning and Land Use Services.

Executive Summary

Nantucket, an island 30 miles off the cape of Massachusetts, is a popular summer tourist destination. Nantucket is an excellent example of a tourist island that benefits economically from the tourists, yet also has complications from a large number of visitors in a small town and island. During the off-season, the population on the island is around 10,000 and there are little to no problems with transportation services. However, in the summer months the population increases significantly and traveling around the island becomes difficult. Since Nantucket has a limited land area, this large increase in population creates tremendous stress on social services and public infrastructures. A main stress experienced on Nantucket is traffic congestion during the summer. Based on the possible net accumulation of vehicles from the ferry between July 2010 and July 2013, there were about 21,500 vehicles on island in July 2013. This number decreased significantly as the seasonal visitors left the island starting in September and ending with around 14,000 vehicles in February 2013.

To alleviate the transportation stresses on Nantucket due to tourism, several organizations worked together to create a website called Wheels, Heels, and Pedals (WHP). The website was designed to reduce auto-dependency and traffic congestion on the island by displaying the Nantucket Regional Transit Authority (NRTA) Shuttle services, illustrating the island’s system of bike paths and sidewalks, and by aggressively marketing the use of these alternative transportation methods to all who visit the island (“Wheels, Heels and Pedals: Mission,” 2010). Although the current website is a good start in educating tourists and residents about alternative transportation methods, the WHP website has become outdated.

The goal of this project was to design a prototype of an interactive and educational web-based platform for the existing public transit, walking, and biking on Nantucket. This prototype would also establish a base for future development of the current WHP website and is expected to be a multi-year project.

To enhance the functionality of the WHP website, we proposed incorporating new technologies, such as QR codes, which could benefit Nantucket residents and tourists by promoting non-automobile transportation methods. To accomplish our goals of enhancing the WHP website, our team developed the following objectives:

  • Assessed the content and interfaces of comparable web-based systems that promote non-automobile transportation methods
  • Explored the feasibility of interactive and educational technologies available for the development of a new website
  • Analyzed the needs of residents and visitors such as information on transportation methods and points of interest
  • Designed a prototype website that implemented several new web-based technologies and serves as a foundation for future development of this project

In order to accomplish our objectives, we started by conducting assessments on the current WHP website and explored Nantucket by riding bicycles to discover points of interest and to learn about the existing Nantucket bike paths. Subsequently, we conducted interviews and focus groups with various organizations to determine what was needed to be updated on the current WHP website. We also discussed with the web development expert, Tihomir Ivanov, the feasibility of using different technologies for updating the website. We then organized all our ideas and designed a prototype for the new WHP website and discussed how to market the new WHP website once launched in 2014. Since the website is intended to function properly for years without updates, we discussed ways of maintaining the website at a low cost for our sponsors.

Our final website prototype has several new upgrades such as language support, drop down menus, picture slide show, interactive maps, and filter features for bike trails that could ultimately make the website more user-friendly and interactive. To market and advertise the website, we designed a business card with a QR Code that leads directly to WHP. For those without a smartphone, the link to the website was provided on the business card.