Each month we'll be introducing one of our PGR students and interviewing them about their work. This month we meet Anja Dalton who is investigating the low levels of cycling amongst women in the UK.
What’s the title of the project?
Cycling Circles: gender and social influence in UK cycling.
What are the main aims of the research?
I was concerned about the low levels of cycling amongst women in the UK (only one third of cycling trips are made by women) and wanted to find out more about why they weren't cycling. I was also interested in how people may influence each others behaviour and how people taking up cycling might encourage others to do so as well.
How are you collecting data and how will you use it?
My study is largely qualitative and I am interviewing people who cycle and then conducting focus groups with people who know the original interviewee. This is a novel methodology, based on social network analysis (SNA) and I am hoping this will enable me to investigate experiences of cycling and the similarities and differences in experince between men and women. This methodology should allow me to understand more about how social influences and social norms work in relation to cycling behaviour. I will also be using some secondary quantitative data sets to help pick out patterns in gender and cycle usage. Initially I will be collecting data for an exploratory study in Bristol and then later this year I will be moving on to Cardiff Bay where most of my research will be conducted.
Who are you working with?
My supervisory team are Dr. Jane Powell (Director of Studies) (HLS), Dr. Paul Pilkington (HLS) and Prof. Graham Parkhurst (Centre for Transport and Society). I have a lot of contact with colleagues in both health and in transport, which suits an interdisciplinary project of this nature. I am part of a research consortium called iConnect (Impact of Constructing Non-motorised Networks and Evaluating Changes in Travel) (http://www.iconnect.ac.uk/
), funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) which is a 5 year investigation and evaluation of the Sustrans Connect2 cycling and walking infrastructure(http://www.sustransconnect2.org.uk/
). Connect2 is a Big Lottery funded project which aims to provide links in over 70 communities around the UK to enable people to cycle and walk for everyday journeys. The iConnect consortium comprises eight academic institutions and is led by Prof John Preston at the University of Southampton. Jane Powell is the Principal Investigator for this project at UWE and works closely with the partner institutions across the UK.
What are the applications of the research in the ‘real world’?
The aim is to understand better the barriers to increased participation in cycling by both genders, but particularly by women and to make recommendations to maximise their participation in the future. Cycling is hard to beat for enjoyment, independence, cost-effectiveness, health and environmental reasons and I hope that in the future many more people discover these benefits as well.
What’s your background/how did you come to UWE?
After finishing a degree in Environment and Development at Durham University I spent several years working largely in the voluntary sectory in a variety of campaigning, press and marketing roles. I worked for Oxfam, British Red Cross, Sustrans and Watershed, among others. I also did an MA in Tourism and Sustainability at UWE and I enjoyed the research for the dissertation so much that it made me think about returning to to a PhD.
Do you have any plans for after you've complete your research?
I'm not fully decided yet, but my current dream is to return to my roots and work in Berlin for a while, researching cycling and walking there, so if anyone hears of anything...
For further information contact Anja Dalton