Dalton, A., Powell, J. and Parkhurst, G.
Who encourages us to cycle? A novel approach to researching social influence in UK cycling.
43rd Universities Transport Study Group Conference, Milton Keynes, UK, 5th-7th January, 2011.
This PhD research is an exciting opportunity to explore an under-researched area of transport and health studies; how gender and social influence relate to cycling behaviour. As well as being cross-disciplinary, it is also novel in the usage of a methodology untried in the transport field prior to this. This involves a two-stage methodology involving interviews with existing cyclists, followed by focus groups with members of their social network (family, friends or colleagues).
An exploratory study to test this approach in Bristol was carried out from May to September 2010 and involved interviews with eight existing cyclists and focus groups with some of the social contacts of two of them, who were a mixture of cyclists and non-cyclists. This study shows that methodology does seem to be a feasible, though challenging way of collecting data about this important and not fully comprehended area of travel behaviour. Many lessons have been learned over the timeframe of the exploratory study and skills and knowledge have also been developed and extended around data collection and analysis.
Further data is now being collected in Cardiff employing a refined version of the same method involving interviews with 20 - 30 cyclists and focus groups with 5 – 10 groups of their social contacts. It is hoped that the research will make a contribution to the growing body of evidence around the workings of social influence, in a new area. It also has potential to enhance our understanding of why greater numbers of women are not cycling in a UK context and how barriers to this may be overcome in the future.
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