Pedals to the People

The research problem central to my PhD project was twofold: cycling uptake in Ireland was very low in spite of valiant efforts to increase it. At the same time communications related to cycling and cyclists was widely perceived to be virulent and negative.

I devised a hypothesis, based on my particular lived experience and anecdotal observation, that the roads network should be understood as a social system, road user groups as social groups, and that in this social network a Social Dominance dynamic is in operation.

The first order of business was to establish whether the perception of communication related to cyclists being very negative was accurate. To this end I conducted an examination of the media discourse in Ireland. I took a qualitative approach by combining elements of the practical application of Grounded Theory (coding, categorising, then identifying themes), and combining it with analysis in the style of Roland Barthes to build an informed and justifiable picture of the general discourse related to cycling and cyclists in Ireland through my focus year, 2017 (in other words, I collected data that was generated in this year). The second part of the project built on the first. I used mixed methods here, designing and distributing a survey and conducting semi-structured interviews.

Due to a number of factors outside of anyone’s control, the project experienced a number of delays. At the time of writing (September 2023), I have submitted my thesis and await confirmation of the date of my Viva Voce.