Thesis project - a 3 year thesis to understand cyclists' behaviour and feelings when cycling
It all began one year ago when I thought of possible ways to relate ergonomics to the environment. Having worked for a year at IFSTTAR during an apprenticeship, I thought of ways of non-motorised transport and particulary the bicycle. So I started researching this form of transport. What surprised me the most is that the French population does not cycle. Check out on EPOMM .
Let’s compare the best French city for cycling with Strasbourg with one of the best cities in Europe, Copenhagen. We can notice in the modal part between the two cities. However Strasbourg has invested a lot to facilitate cycling with more than 560km of cycling lanes.
So how can we explain this difference?
I’m sorry but we will have to start with a few technical aspect. There is a thesis published in 2007 by Mrs Rocci analysing incentives and obstacles to behavioural change when reducing car usage. Lots of things to keep in mind.
· There are multiple factors which can enhance or deter behavioural change.
· Feelings and experience in different mode of transport helps to understand the obstacles to change.
· We need to set up structures (facilitators) and incentives.
And it is this that led me to the thought that ergonomics could help and change the behaviour of individuals. Everyone has heard of ergonomics but what is it? Taking a quotation from Monod and Kapitaniak wich is easy to understand “fitting the job to the worker”. By studies in the field and in real life, ergonomics tries to understand what happens in order to modify the environment in a global sense in order to adapt itself to the individual. So ergonomics is a method of investigation capable of collecting people’s feelings and proposing solutions.
It’s not a miracle method but will better understand and clarify the problems.
How to encourage people to cycle?
Two points seems interesting. Patricia Delhomme, Werner De Dobbeleer, Sonja Forward, Anabela Simões created a manual to evaluate road safety campaign. And one of their conclusion is that users need to be specifically targeted in order to have a strong impact on them. If one wants to target young men, a knowledge of this population is necessary in order to have an impact on them. So for this thesis, it is necessary to target a specific population but which one?
It’s the second point that will help to target the population. There is a model (the transtheoritical model of change in behaviour by Prochaska and DiClemente) which helps to outline the different processes which exists when one want to change behaviour.
· Precomtemplation: the individual is not interested
· Contemplation: the individual starts to reflects on his behaviour
· Preparation: the individual feels ready and wants to change behaviour in the near future
· Action: the change has started
· Maintenance: consolidation of change
· Relapse: the individual goes back to his old behaviour
· Maintenance: The individuals behavioural change is definite
We feel that by targeting those individuals in the stage of preparation, we could have a strong impact on encouraging them to take up cycling.
These are people who have taken the necessary steps to begging cycling. But what steps? They could also have an influence on others who are contemplating this activity. But if the influence is negative, the individuals in the state of contemplation will not go on the preparation stage. So it would seem that this population is significant in the process of changing behaviour.
Thus the object of the thesis is to target individuals in the stage of preparation whom we will call beginner-cyclists. We will try to understand who is this population. We will try to understand the steps which led them to want to cycle. And we will try to understand how the practice of cycling is perceived.
Three studies will be undertaken.
· A survey to identify the principal characteristic of non-regular cyclist using the transtheoritical model of behavioural change.
· A diary, fitted out cycles and interviews to fully understands cyclists feelings before, during and after cycling. Emotions on track ? What motivates them to cycle regularly?
· The same methods will be used on cyclists cycling regularly as a comparison.
Have you noticed I don’t say I but we?
I say we because I’m not the only one involved in this thesis. I have a fantastic director who is helping me to prepare this project, Mrs Patricia Delhomme from IFSTTAR. Without her I would still be reflecting on how to relate ergonomics and cycling.
And cycling-friendly in all this?
There are several concepts behind this idea.
· In ergonomics we often talk about adapting the environment to the user. While watching the video of Pierre Falzon on the concept of capability environment it occurred to me that this concept could be used for road users. But how?
· Comes the concept of Christian Nold with his emotional charts of pedestrians. With rather complicated equipment, he charted pedestrians emotions so as to have another point of view of the city.
Mixing these two concepts, we get an image of cycle-friendly environment. An environment where cyclists give their opinion based on their emotions. So the environment becomes preventative, universal and developmental.
To put in use these two concepts, we can use what is in common usage at the moment: smartphones. In the era of digital and shared information, the smartphone app can give us information not restricted in time, all most in real-time.
How can emotions can evaluate the environment?
An interesting aspect in emotions is that they are not only a reflection of an individual but a reflection of our society (Averill, in the book nature of emotions: fundamental questions). According to Cahour and Lancry, studies in the professional world show that emotions have a real impact in the quality of work. If we apply the same to the environment of cyclist we could do what is necessary to render the environment positive and this could encourage people to cycle.
Practice of cycling is means of locomotion full of emotions and sensations. The first is a feeling of liberty. But what are the other emotions, feelings or sensations that can be attributed to the practice of cycling?