100 Rides, Lessons Learned: September 9, 2013

On Wednesday, September 4th, Lawrence OnBoard rider Jenny O’Brien took the 100th ride.  We have been collecting extensive data on all these rides, including location, time of day, weather, wait time, number of cars passing, age and gender of driver and about 8 other points as well.  Here are some interesting facts:

 

  • Average wait time: 7.2 minutes!!!
  • Total miles traveled: 454
  • Average number of cars passing before one stops: 17
  • Male drivers: 63%
  • Female drivers: 37%
  • Drivers who circled around for the rider: 35%
  • Drivers who were known to the rider: 21%

So, what have we learned so far in this first year of traveling the Lawrence OnBoard way?

1)  Getting a ride is astonishingly easy!  Apparently, many people have a deep wellspring of kindness, and if they are presented with an easy, low risk, low cost opportunity to help someone, they will.  An empty seat in a car is like too much zucchini in the garden.  If you don’t use it, it just goes to waste, so why not give it to someone who needs it.

2)  A good location is important.  We have identified 4 characteristics of a good location

  •  Good visibility- a long line of sight, or a stop sign or traffic light to slow the cars
  •  An easy and obvious place to pull over- broad shoulder, row of empty parking spaces, parking lot or wide road with light traffic
  •  Adequate flow of traffic with many cars heading to the rider’s destination
  •  A handy place down the road to turn around and come back for the rider.

Future research will focus on testing and mapping good locations.

3)  Security is not the major concern that we expected.  The short wait time, local nature of the program, and rides taken in daylight in well traveled areas make it very unlikely that a violent criminal will pick up a rider.  What we have experienced in our research are petty annoyances- loud music, smoking, messy cars, crowded seats etc.  Dangerous situations are more likely to be a result of malfunctioning seat belts or drivers talking on cell phones than evil intentions of the driver.  Nevertheless, we will include a chapter in the users handbook on identifying, avoiding and escaping dangerous situations.

All of these ideas and more are summed up in the research paper Lawrence OnBoard, Community Rideshare for a Small City which will hopefully be published next year.

Stay tuned for What Happens Next!  See ya on the road…