Online information-sharing: a qualitative analysis of community, trust and social influence amongst commuter cyclists in the UK

Bartle, C., Avineri, E. and Chatterjee, K. (2013) Online information-sharing: a qualitative analysis of community, trust and social influence amongst commuter cyclists in the UK. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 16. pp. 60-72. ISSN 1369-8478 Available from:

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Research into the use and behavioural effects of travel information has concentrated on top-down information from transport providers, but little is known about the role of informal information, shared through word-of-mouth, in everyday travel behaviour. Social interactions about travel may exert not only an informational influence, whereby beliefs are updated based on the experience of other individuals, but also a more subtle normative influence: conveying information about norms of behaviour within a particular social milieu. This research aimed to explore, using a qualitative approach, the social processes which occurred when a group of 23 commuter cyclists interacted with one another through a specially designed, map-based website over six weeks, sharing their routes and other cycling-related information. Methods comprised observation of website interactions, participant questionnaires and semi-structured interviews; the analysis drew on the theory of normative and informational social influence, and self-categorisation theory. It was found that the process of sharing information could perform not only a functional role in diffusing instrumental travel information, but also a social one whereby perceived in-group membership and high levels of trust reinforced positive views of cycling as a commuter mode. Both roles were found to offer particular encouragement to those who were new to cycling or new to a particular workplace. This suggests that ‘user-generated’ information may hold potential as one of the tools for promoting sustainable travel within a group setting such as the workplace.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:NOTICE: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication.
Uncontrolled Keywords:traveller information, word-of-mouth, social influence, cycling, qualitative case-study
Faculty/Department:Faculty of Environment and Technology > Department of Geography and Environmental Management
ID Code:17096
Deposited By: Dr E. Avineri
Deposited On:09 Aug 2012 10:14
Last Modified:07 Mar 2018 12:44

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