Heading inside for the winter

A great big thank you goes out to the hundreds of people who volunteered a few minutes each to answer our class’s surveys over the past three weekends. This past weekend’s amazing fall weather proved to be a gold mine for survey research, with many people stopping by to share their thoughts about the system.

We’ve heard great suggestions from the riding public and will be sharing their thoughts — whether through the survey or through informal conversations with our researchers — with the folks who run Capital Bikeshare.

Our team has also identified almost two dozen peer systems around the world that we will be contacting soon, online and by phone. We’ll ask them about how they handle many of the issues that CaBi has faced, and about what improvements they’ve introduced as they’ve grown.

Another group of students has started to lay the groundwork for a great final report, which we’ll be unveiling here in December.

-PC

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Surveying in the rain

Several VT student teams braved the damp autumn chill of this past weekend to collect more surveys from the bike-sharing public. However, said public did not show up in droves, except for some hardier sorts — notably many from countries along the North Sea, who probably found the weather balmy. Therefore, we’ll be back out on the streets this coming (sunny!) weekend for one last round of surveys.

We’re also preparing our second survey, wherein we’re going to find out how other bike sharing systems around the world have adapted to the operational challenges that CaBi has encountered. Our class has split into two teams for the week, one to refine what we’ll need to know and one to begin an informational survey of peer bike share systems. It will be an interesting challenge, involving at least five languages! Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on excellent bike sharing systems.

-PC

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Visit to Capital Bikeshare Warehouse

Yesterday evening our class visited Capital Bikeshare’s warehouse in DC. Eric Gilliland from Alta Planning gave us a short tour of the warehouse and answered all of our questions.  This information will help us organize our case studies about bike sharing systems. By the way, the number are in and we collected 170 surveys during the first weekend!

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Second Day of Collecting Surveys

Today was our second day of collecting surveys. There seemed to be fewer one-day and five-day CaBi members on the road today than yesterday. However, we are happy that it did not rain.  Today we covered five CaBi stations: 10th & Constitution, 12th & Independence, Eastern Market, Dupont Circle, and C&O Canal in Georgetown. Short term CaBi users are very generous with their time and almost everyone is willing to answer our short survey.

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First Surveys are in

Our first day of data collection went very well.  We covered three stations today: 10th & Constitution, 12th & Independence, and Dupont Circle.  The weather was decent (no rain) and most one-day or five-day bikeshare users were willing to answer our questions. Let’s hope it will continue like this tomorrow.

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First Weekend of Intercept Surveys

This morning IRB approved our survey protocol and intercept survey. This means we are ‘good to go’!  Over the two coming weekends Virginia Tech graduate students will be at key CaBi stations to collect data about ‘short term’ bikshare users.  We hope for decent weather, no rain, and many willing survey participants! We are all excited to finally get out in ‘the field’ to collect our data!

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Decisions, Decisions

Throughout the week the class has been working on how to narrow down, reorder, and modify our Capital Bikeshare intercept survey questions.  Where we had started with well over 50 question “concepts,” we are narrowing the pool down to approximately 15 key questions (granted, some of these have secondary follow-up questions if a certain response is received from the primary question).   We have received feedback from Chris and Paul, our Clients, on which questions they felt were most valuable to them and which questions could easily be removed from the pool of potential questions.  The remainder of the eliminations are taking place using a simple straw poll of the class.

The 15 number, while not set in stone or particularly special, was the approximate number that, after some peer testings, we felt could be easily responded to within a 5 minute window.  We had previously honed in on a 30 question survey, but that was testing out at closer to 10 minutes of survey time.  It is a tough balance of wanting to be respectful of the participants time and collecting the most pertinent information that will help Capital Bikeshare improve it services to 24-hour and 5-day members.  Also, we felt that if the survey was too long that we would run a higher risk of having people opt out of the survey midway through which would give us an inconsistent data pool to work with.

If you were surveyed on the street, assuming that you were not running terribly late for a meeting, appointment, date, etc., how much time would agree to take out of your day to answer a graduate students’ survey?  (Also, assuming you didn’t manage to fake a phone call or cross the street before being intercepted by the surveyor…)

-Matt

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