50 Rides and Research Findings: May 25, 2013

I can hardly believe it, but Lawrence OnBoard has logged 50 rides since September.  I have collected a lovely pile of data and now have a pretty good idea of how this Roadside Rideshare thing is working out.  Here are some of the findings so far.  This is just a quick sketch.  A more detailed report will be out later in the year.

The riders:  20 different riders have been testing out Lawrence OnBoard Roadside Rideshare.  Seven women and 13 men participated, ranging in age from 21 to 68.  They clipped on their ID badges, took their rideboards and went out into the world to catch rides with random strangers.  You can see the places where they got rides on the Lawrence OnBoard Crowdmap.  We have traveled a total distance of 238 miles. And…

The average wait time before a driver stopped was 8 minutes!

The drivers:  We collected basic data on the curious and helpful people who stopped to pick up the riders.  Average age was 41 years.  13 of them were women, 37 were men.  Most were single occupants, but several had passengers including small children.  39 of them were complete strangers, but 11 had some connection to the rider- an acquaintance, neighbor, friend, or someone who had heard of Lawrence OnBoard previously.  On several occasions, the driver and rider discovered they had a mutual friend, similar interests or other connection.

Surveys:  We gave the last 30 drivers paper questionnaires, and have received 8 back in the mail.  Those drivers reported that they felt safe and had a positive social interaction with the rider.  They also reported that they could read the rideboards pretty clearly.  Half the respondents liked the idea of a lottery ticket as an incentive (“makes it more fun”), but nobody was excited about a small cash payment.  The riders also filled out questionnaires after the rides.  Their consensus was that the rideboards worked really well, but the license plate texting was too much of a hassle.  A few of the riders were quite anxious at the beginning of the experience.  They worried mostly about being able to get a ride.  However, these same riders reported that it was “Easier than I thought it would be” and “Way more fun”.  There were some slightly awkward moments- seat belts that didn’t work, non-smokers getting into a car with a smoker, one driver who was a little put out because the rider “didn’t really need a ride”.  But for the most part, the experience was very positive.  Here is one response to the question “Was this experience what you expected it to be?  If not, what was surprising?”

It was great. I was surprised at how good I felt after returning to HQ. People seemed really sympathetic to the goals of the project and interested in what I was doing.


What next?  The next step is to continue the research.  I’m shooting for 100 rides by the end of the summer.  I will continue presenting the results of the research to the Lawrence community, and start looking into funding so we can get this project on the road!