Image: Created by Lily Bui

How (Part of) Christchurch Cycles

What we’ve found so far and how we did it

I’m in Christchurch, New Zealand, to help SensingCity and the University of Canterbury Geohealth Lab better understand cyclists in the city. (You can read more about the CycleWays Project here.)

After spending the first two weeks of my fellowship in meetings with local cycling groups, individual cycling advocates, researchers looking at cycling at public health, transportation planners, and many others who fall in between these categories, our team created and distributed a survey that asked several questions about cycling motivations, habits, and concerns. The questions were designed based on issues that were raised in these initial meetings.

The survey was created using Google Forms, and these preliminary results below reflect responses submitted between 23 June to 1 July 2015. A total of 224 people responded during this period, 218 of whom reported living in Christchurch.

Our team contacted myriad community groups with an interest in cycling (among them, Spokes, Frocks on Bikes, Cycling in Christchurch, Cycle ChCh, and the University of Canterbury Geohealth Lab, The Press), who then helped us distribute a link to the survey through their respective communication channels online (i.e., e-mail, social media networks, and in some cases word of mouth).

Equally important to note is our sample bias: our survey targeted people who were already cyclists. According to the 2013 census, 7% (9,804 people) of people living in Christchurch cycled to work, up from 6.5% (9,093 people) in 2006. Our survey has only reached a fraction of cyclists in the city; thus, these survey results do not capture the opinions of those who do not cycle in Christchurch, who make up the majority of the city population. We view these initial findings as a mere snapshot of the larger picture and do not purport to generalize these results to all of Christchurch.

The majority of cyclists who participated in the survey reported cycling multiple times a week. The top three reasons for cycling were fitness, work-related, and recreation. A majority of respondents reported not using or having used a cycling app on their smartphone.

In the process of analysing the survey data, we have taken precautions to anonymise any personally-identifiable information such as names, e-mails, other contact information, and locative information.

Moving forward, we hope to collect more qualitative data about when and where cyclists in the city feel unsafe and their reasons why. Watch this space for more updates.

A link to the survey can be found here:
An infographic displaying our preliminary results as of July 1, 2015, can be found here.
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