We hear lots about the worst road incidents involving cyclists: collisions that leave bike riders dead or fighting for their lives in hospital. But there are vastly more unpleasant minor incidents that don't result in injury: inadvertent close passes; deliberate 'punishment passes'; 'Sorry Mate I Didn't See You' near-misses; abuse; harassment; and many many more. At worst, these leave cyclists shaken and fearful. At best, they're a dispiriting part of urban cycling that helps deter potential cyclists who aren't young, fit, brave and confident.
The Near Miss Project aims to document the size of the problem and find out what effect it has on cyclists. Westminster University researcher Rachel Aldred and laser-projection front light maker Blaze are looking for cyclists to document their riding experiences for just one day.
The researchers say they suspect the constant background noise of near-misses really affects the way people ride — if they choose to ride at all. They hope to use the findings to brief policy-makers, planners, and driver training organisations, calling for a reduction in incidents.
"If we can prevent some of these incidents, we could dramatically improve the cycling experience and potentially reduce the likelihood of more serious incidents," say the researchers.
Dr. Rachel Aldred, Senior Transport Lecturer at Westminster University said: “We’re asking as many cyclists as possible to contribute to the Near Miss Project and sign up to share any cycling near misses they encounter during one day between Monday 20th October – Sunday 2nd November.
“Although research into near misses is commonplace in other areas of transport — such as rail and air — it’s near absent when it comes to cycling, which is what compelled us to launch the Near Miss Project.
"We carried out a small pilot which revealed the average person experienced three near miss type incidents in just one day. These occurrences can’t be ignored in thinking about what puts people off cycling.
"I’m interested in not only how regularly these incidents are happening, but also the emotive elements involved; how do they leave people feeling: threatened, angry, ashamed, frustrated? What’s more, minor incidents can be viewed as an early warning signal; they may indicate a risk of more serious incidents.”
“We want the research findings to be used by planners and policy-makers and to help drivers better understand near miss type incidents from a cycling perspective.”
Emily Brooke, founder of Blaze said: “Safety is undeniably still a massive barrier to people cycling. While a near miss may not feel like more than a frustration or irritation at the time, the potential ramifications could be massive. Our belief is that these incidents - the ones that happen on a weekly, if not daily, basis - are in fact the ones which influence the way we cycle, or if we choose to cycle at all.”
Brooke says that while she was developing the Blaze light she realised how regularly she was experiencing near misses and how easily they could have turned into something more serious.
"I think we condition ourselves to forget about them almost as quickly as they happen," she said, "but we shouldn't have to just accept them as part and parcel of cycling. In one day I think I counted as many as seven near misses including everything from a scooter getting dangerously close to my inside, to a pedestrian glued to their phone stepping out in front of me without looking.
"We genuinely believe this study will reveal insights to improve the safety of fellow cyclists on our roads and I'm personally impatient and fascinated to see what we learn."
To participate please visit: www.nearmiss.bike and share your stories with #nearmiss
The pilot study
Researchers ran a small pilot on Tuesday, September 30 2014.
The study involved usable data from 25 respondents travelling a total of 250 miles.
People experienced on average 0.8 incidents per trip stage (part of cycle journey). This equated to average 3.2 incidents per person on the day in question or one incident every 3.1 miles.
Respondents were asked to rate incidents on a scale of 0-3 for how annoying and how scary they were.
Incidents involving no motor vehicles (just other cyclists or pedestrians, or for example potholes or in one case a squirrel!) scored an average of 1.7/3 annoying and 0.7/3 scary.
Incidents that did involve at least one motor vehicle were twice as scary and scored 2.2/3 annoying and 1.4/3 scary.
Negative feelings reported by people experiencing an incident included — as well as fear and annoyance — shame, frustration, embarrassment and guilt.
One might hope that their Bike Bureau would do a spot: https://road.cc/content/news/bbc-launches-bike-bureau-netherlands-301081
There's a transcript! https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/paved-paradise/transcript
I’ve had one of these since launch and don’t recognise this review of it. Yes the app is crappy (but so is the Cycliq one) and you only need use it...
"people didn’t seem to get that I was joking"...
The Ed Winchester15 hrs ago User ID: 4626099 Probably went to chase the cyclist, lost them and can't now remember where it happened.
You can put your reg number into https://www.gov.uk/guidance/driving-in-a-clean-air-zone and it'll tell you which zones to be careful of....
Simple! Oh wait, that's India.
The media certainly contribute as do our actions. I agree it would be much better if we were portrayed more accurately.
Merci, monsieur Kappler