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researching while touring US

Old 04-01-09, 06:34 PM
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researching while touring US

Hello,

I am a Junior at the university of vermont attempting a research project that will take me biking across the US this summer. Along the way I am looking at environmentalism/sustainability as a social change movement and seeing how far along in the movement we are. I plan take about 90 days this summer conducting interviews and surveys along the way in addition to my observations.

I am here to get advice on locations, routes, anything that would sound like it pertains to what I am doing. I think I might copy the route taken by the people who did the 2007 ride for climate. I'm just here looking for ideas, opinions, suggestions, etc...

Any support is good.
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Old 04-01-09, 06:45 PM
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Greensburg, Kansas, the town destroyed by a tornado is rebuilding itself as a "green town."

https://www.greensburggreentown.org/
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Old 04-01-09, 06:54 PM
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Do you have a way to carry all of the surveys? Hundreds or thousands of sheets of paper can add a good heft to your bags. I suppose you could carry a stick drive and get them printed off in the towns, and then send them back to your office by mail. What is your destination? A lot of the "green" cities in the U.S. are along the West Coast. I assume you are planning to finish your tour as soon as you hit the Ocean? Portland might make a good destination because of its bicycle culture and transit design.

Make sure your surveys are well designed and tested beforehand. A lot of college studies collect worthless data with simple mistakes like double barreled questions, biased sampling, improper answer formats, etc.
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Old 04-01-09, 11:25 PM
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research

Yes I definitely do not want to be carrying a lot of paper, a usb drive is a good idea.

Thanks for the input on the surveys, it means a lot. I will have a lot of guidance from peers before the survey and interview questions are finalized, no doubt. I do not want to throw my thesis away when its done.
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Old 04-02-09, 06:02 AM
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Since you will be stopping and talking to a lot of people, I anticipate you will get a lot of generosity: free showers, free meals, rides. It sounds like a fun trip.
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Old 04-02-09, 08:41 AM
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pfandel,

Just curious, what is your discipline? E.S.? Sociology?

Pretty much any route you take will have you traveling through "Middle America" nearly the entire time. But you could skew your survey if you deliberately go through college or otherwise well-known "liberal" towns like Madison or Boulder. You might find more receptive participants for your survey in such places and thus spend more time in them.

If you want a random sampling, then you almost have to pick a completely random route, but perhaps that's not what you're after. Maybe you're interested in contrasting various towns/regions/etc.

Something else to consider: Bike touring is generally easiest, safest, and most enjoyable if you avoid large urban areas. However, most of the U.S. population lives in or near a large metropolitan center, so you are excluding a huge segment if you don't venture into big cities. It will also be much easier to talk with folks in rural areas because they are generally friendlier and not in a hurry.

So, you might consider pinpointing the demographic you're going to sample. For instance you could contrast rural populations with those of specific semi-urban "progressive" areas like Burlington, Madison, Boulder, Portland, etc. These are all small cities that will be fairly easy to navigate on your bike.

One big city with a nice bike route right through the guts of downtown is Cleveland (ACA Northern Tier).

Having ridden from Boulder to NH last year, I was struck by how just how oblivious our country is to environmental/climate issues. It really hits home when you're on a bike -- you're working really hard, and feeling really good as you pursue one of the most environmentally friendly forms of travel/recreation. You realize what a different place America would be if more people would choose such simple, benign forms of entertainment. But the entire time vehicles are whizzing past, some towing boats, ATVs, or campers. I experienced a strange mix of emotions -- complete exhilaration on the one hand, and utter discouragement on the other.

Anyhow, best of luck. Feel free to PM me if you come through Boulder.
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Old 04-02-09, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by pfandel
Hello,

I am a Junior at the university of vermont attempting a research project that will take me biking across the US this summer. Along the way I am looking at environmentalism/sustainability as a social change movement and seeing how far along in the movement we are. I plan take about 90 days this summer conducting interviews and surveys along the way in addition to my observations.

I am here to get advice on locations, routes, anything that would sound like it pertains to what I am doing. I think I might copy the route taken by the people who did the 2007 ride for climate. I'm just here looking for ideas, opinions, suggestions, etc...

Any support is good.
I'd setup a blog and webpage and ask people to fill out an online survey. Record interviews with the your camera, something like the Canon A590 is a good solid camera that will record videos too. Take a netbook PC to down load videos and pictures and update your blog.
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Old 04-03-09, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by northboundtrain
Having ridden from Boulder to NH last year, I was struck by how just how oblivious our country is to environmental/climate issues. It really hits home when you're on a bike -- you're working really hard, and feeling really good as you pursue one of the most environmentally friendly forms of travel/recreation. You realize what a different place America would be if more people would choose such simple, benign forms of entertainment. But the entire time vehicles are whizzing past, some towing boats, ATVs, or campers. I experienced a strange mix of emotions -- complete exhilaration on the one hand, and utter discouragement on the other.
The last few years I've been struck by the proliferation of quads. Frequently the peace and quiet of a woodsy campsite is shattered by the noise of quads racing by on the campground road. People, including young kids, going around and around, oblivious to the disturbance they're causing for other campers.

There are many families who can't seem to go camping without a big, thirsty motorhome, a speedboat, and 4 quads. Maybe a few jetskis to boot.

The green lifestyle has a long way to go before it permeates our society.
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