To get more in-depth knowledge about how cyclists feel what they experience while cycling on a cycle track qualitative methods can be useful. We distinguish three types of methods that are interesting for cycling research:
workshop or focus group
Interviews are a regularly used method to get more insights into motivations and explanations of how people experience something. With an in-depth interview the researcher can react on the answers of a participant and ask more questions to get things clear. Interviews are a good method to combine with cycle along (observing a cyclist while cycling). The reseacher can decide to interview during or after the cycle trip.
The above introduced method cycle along is a way to observe cyclists during their cycle trip. There are several ways to do this. One of the proved methods used in Tilburg is to cycle as a researcher behind the participant. The participant has a camera on his bike to record the view of the participant. The researcher observes the participant in his environment and takes notes of his specific behaviour. It is wisely to practice this before and to have a structured way to list behaviour. An installed 360 degree camera on the bike of the researcher captured the participant while he cycles in the environment. The cameras make it possible to watch the experience of the cyclist on the cycle track again. The results from the participants can clear out difficulties in the route and locations that might be confusing, unsafe or unpleasant for cyclists.
Workshops or focus groups are activities in a group setting where the group dynamics are an important aspect of the method. In a focus group a specific target group of 8-12 people are invited to participate in the research. With a structured program and a good facilitator the participants will be asked to discuss specific topics. Pictures, maps and other material can be helpful to introduce a topic or to clear out locations or situations that the participants talk about. It is good to take into account that the group dynamic is very important. Some participants have a strong opinion and are the first that speak out loud. Others might be more shy. The facilitator has to pay attention that all participants are active and the opinion of the group is based on the opinion of the individuals.