Thursday, January 17, 2008
In a city that is dominated by the automobile I want to find out how its residents who use other modes of transportation actually view the built environment. In this project I would like to get the mental map that New York City bicycle commuters have of their city. While all forms of transit modes could be studied, I find that this small minority (1% of residents commute by bike) would make for a rich case study.
The method I plan on using will be modeled after Kevin Lynch's Imageability that he created when he did a study of Boston, Los Angeles, and Jersey City. He describes in his book, Image of The City, how residents have a mental image of their city. He describes this mental image or mapping as imageability. Lynch defines imageability as "that quality in a physical object which gives it a high probability of evoking a strong image in any given observer. It is that shape, color, or arrangement which facilitates the making of vividly identified, powerfully structured, or highly useful mental images of the environment" (9). I would like to use this same method of having participants draw the route that they use daily. In addition, I will do a more thorough general survey to get background and supporting documentation to understand what are the issues, concerns, and problems that these daily commuters face.
This project will have qualitative and quantitative methods that will be used. The interview and mental map will be a qualitative approach and the imageability of the observers. The data from the written survey will be quantified to demonstrate what are the larger issues and concerns that these observers have with their built environment. While this approach might be less orthodox, I feel that both these methods, qualitative and quantitative, will be used in a complementary way.
Finally, while this is a grounded theory approach, I do not have a specific hypothesis, if my results are relevant and valid I would like to pursue getting this paper published.