EurekaFacts Uses Photovoice to Measure Barriers to Walking and Bicycling in Arlington County

Background
In partnership with the Arlington County Commuter Services (ACCS) Destination Sales and Marketing Group (DS&MG), EurekaFacts conducted qualitative research with Arlington County residents and employees who were interested in using walking and bicycling as methods of transportation. The research methodology incorporated a variant of photovoice and traditional focus groups.

EurekaFacts Methodology

The goal of the research project was to assess existing factors that act as barriers for Arlington County bicyclists, non-bicyclists, walkers, and non-walkers from using walking and bicycling as methods of transportation.

After taking photographs for a week, participants joined focus groups. Participants took photographs that facilitated discussions around the following topics and themes: traffic and cars, personal factors, infrastructure, personal safety, and family/home life.

“There’s a grocery store not too far from where I live, if I’m not planning
on buying a whole lot, then I don’t mind biking because it’s easy to just
put on the bike and ride back. But if I really want a decent workout and
carry a little bit more, then I don’t mind walking.”
– Group 3 Participant

Outcomes

Within the theme of traffic and cars, critical factors that influence participants’ decision to walk and bike include the time of day; general disregard for traffic laws by drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists; congested roads; and the availability and widely accepted use of alternative modes of transportation (e.g. cars, public transportation).

Within the theme of personal factors, critical factors that influence participants’ decision to walk and bike include the type of job culture; required professional attire; commuting distance; and weather.

Within the theme of infrastructure, critical factors that influence participants’ decision to walk and bike include the availability and conditions of bike lanes and trails; road conditions; availability and accessibility to bike storage; construction; and new developments.

Within the theme of personal safety, critical factors that influence participants’ decision to walk and bike include nighttime and lack of lighting; presence of law enforcement; perceived harassment of women; shared bike lanes with cars; and carrying capacity.

Within the theme of family and home life, critical factors that influence participants’ decision to walk and bike include the juggling of multiple responsibilities with limited time; responsibilities associated with child rearing; and peer behavior.

A subgroup analysis found some variations between males and females around the following topics: women perceived personal safety, hair, and responsibilities associated with child rearing as barriers to walking and biking, whereas men did not mention these factors. The subgroup analysis did not find differences between respondents based on race/ethnicity or location of residence.

“Because to work, I need to wear heels and stuff so I like wouldn’t wear
sneakers to work. I have to take a cab to the metro and then I have to do the
same thing the entire week. But I know if I put in some change to my routine,
I’d definitely make walking or biking to work more feasible.”

– Group 4 Participant

Key strategies identified by participants as means of improving the likelihood of walking and biking included implementing changes to the Capital Bikeshare program; organizing community bike rides; providing tips and strategies on maintaining professional attire; educating drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians on traffic rules; providing incentives for biking through employers; and improving infrastructure of bike lanes and trails.

 

About EurekaFacts
EurekaFacts is a full-service market and social research firm in the Washington, D.C. area. We help leaders understand and shape successful programs, communications, and brands through data collection and advanced analytics. Since 2003, we have collaborated with government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and corporations to answer their research questions and business objectives. EurekaFacts is ISO 20252 certified, the highest quality standard in market and social research.

 

About Arlington County Commuter Services (ACCS)
Arlington County Commuter Services (ACCS) is the Transportation Demand Management (TDM) agency of Arlington County, Virginia. ACCS was established in 1989 in order to enhance Arlington’s economic vitality. Its mission involves reducing traffic congestion, decreasing parking demand, promoting maximum use of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) infrastructure, and improving air quality and mobility in and around Arlington. ACCS provides information and services to increase the use of alternative transportation through programs including WalkArlington, BikeArlington, Arlington Transportation Partners, The Commuter Store, CommuterDirect.com, TDM for Site Plan Development, Research, and Mobility Lab.

 

About Destination Sales and Marketing Group (DS&MG)
The Destination Sales and Marketing Group (DS&MG) is a mobility management company based in Arlington, Virginia. DS&MG has been in the industry since 1998 and has a solid reputation as a firm that creates innovative programming with measurable results. We are contracted with Arlington County to operate and manage Arlington Transportation Partners, BikeArlington, WalkArlington, Mobility Lab, as well as Capital Bikeshare marketing.