Hitchhikers wanted

This will help us understand why some groups hitchhike more than others.

Local RCMP are working with researchers from the UNBC to understand hitchhiking.

Dr. Jacqueline Holler of the University of Northern B.C. is heading a research project about hitchhiking.  It is the first of its kind in North America since 1972.  What makes this project unique is the level of cooperation between the RCMP and the university researchers.

Part of the collaboration includes local RCMP officers collecting information from hitchhikers regarding their needs and motivations.

“We have what looks like a ticket book, but it’s an information gathering form that we later give to the research group so they can chart and look for patterns,” St.. Sgt. Grant MacDonald explained to Village of Burns Lake council members during a policing report to council.

“They’ll use that information to establish where the hitchhiking hotspots are and then they’ll focus their interests on those areas,” he added.

“It coincides with a power point presentation that we present to young hitchhikers to help them understand if there are better and safer ways to get around other than hitchhiking,” MacDonald said.

Although the study is not limited to hitchhiking patterns in Northern B.C., Dr. Holler hopes that the study will shine light specifically on the challenges hitchhikers face in the North.

“We are particularly interested in experiences in Northern B.C.,” Holler wrote in an email.  “One of the things we hope to understand is whether Northern B.C. is ‘different’ from other places when it comes to hitchhiking.”

The project not only involves the RCMP in one-on-one conversations with hitchhikers but relies on data collected from GPS tracking devices used by five courier companies out of Prince George that travel the highways.  The technology will allow drivers to click a button to input hitchhiker sightings.

The data collected by RCMP and through GPS tracking methods are essential to the project, but just as important is feedback from hitchhikers themselves.

“Hitchhiking is a mode of transportation,” Holler said.  “I am really hoping that we can, through the study, cut through the marginalization and stereotyping of hitchhikers and let their voices, stories, and activities guide us toward making Northern B.C. a safer and healthier place.”

Online surveys are available and it is important for the project’s completeness that actual hitchhikers participate and fill them out.

“We need to know why people hitchhike,” Holler explained.

“This will help us understand why some groups hitchhike more than others, and what services we need to be offering in order to give people more transportation options.”

“We also need to know how often people have bad experiences and whether they report those to the police.”

“This is critical from a public safety point of view, since if people aren’t reporting threatening or violent experiences, [then] the predators on our highways, and we know they’re out there, are that much more likely to continue their behaviour.”

Holler said that their preliminary results so far have indicated that hitchhikers are a diverse group with diverse reasons for hitchhiking, and that ‘bad rides’ happen more often than people might think.

The survey will continue through next year and Holler encourages hitchhikers to complete the survey and to contact her to arrange interviews in early 2013.

“Let your readers know that they can complete the survey at http://fluidsurveys.com/s/hitchhiking/ and can contact me at holler@unbc.ca,” she said.

 

Just Posted

Six cattle killed on Hungry Hill

After a brief closure Friday the highway is now open to traffic.

Incumbents and acclaimed mayors win elections all across B.C.’s north

Fraser Lake saw their first female mayor elected

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

Every vote counts: 10 tightest races in B.C.’s municipal elections

Peachland saw their election decided by just one vote

Dolores Funk wins Burns Lake mayoral election

Dolores Funk was elected the new mayor of the village of Burns… Continue reading

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

B.C. cold case helps ‘60 Minutes’ explain genetic genealogy

An arrest in the 1987 double-murder of two people from Victoria was one of three examples highlighted in a segment you can watch here

Delivery of cannabis could be impacted by postal strike

BC Liquor Distribution Branch look at alternative third-party delivery services

Around the BCHL: Chilliwack Chiefs snag spot in CJHL national rankings

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the BCHL and the junior A world.

Rural regions get priority for B.C. referendum mail-out

Ballot security measures aim to protect against voter fraud

B.C.’s natural gas supply could see 50% dip through winter due to pipeline blast

It’s been two weeks since the Enbridge pipeline ruptured near Prince George on Oct. 9, sparking a large fireball

Mega Millions, Powerball prizes come down to math, long odds

Biggest myth: The advertised $1.6 billion Mega Millions prize and $620 million Powerball prize aren’t quite real

2 Canadians advance to finals at world wrestling championships

Olympic champion Erica Wiebe just missed joining them with a loss 3-1 to three-time world champion Adeline Gray of the United States in the 76-kg event

VIDEO: Fire destroys historic small-town B.C. restaurant

Two people were injured as fire ripped through the Hedley restaurant around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday

Most Read