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Near Miss Project to continue for a second year – cyclists urged to sign up

More than 1,500 cyclists signed up for first year; report now published

The Near Miss Project, which has catalogued the daily cycling experience of more than 1,500 cyclists across the UK, is to continue for a second year, with cyclists urged to sign up for the initiative.

Led by Dr Rachel Aldred of the University of Westminster and funded by Creative Exchange and Blaze, news that the initiative will carry on follows yesterday’s publication of the first year’s report.

Each of the 1,532 participants kept a diary of a day’s cycling between 20 October and 2 November last year, recording all of their journeys by bike and noting and incidents they found scary or annoying, both ranked on a scale of 0-3.

In all, 3,994 incidents were recorded, with researchers concluding that the average cyclist in the UK will be involved in a “very scary incident” around once a week, and 60 such incidents each year.

- Cyclists experience a "scary" near miss once a week according to study

The slower the cyclist, the more likely they were to be subject to a near-miss, which also partly explains why women experience them more than men do.

The most common time when bike riders experienced a near-miss was at morning rush hour.

The “vast majority” of incidents fell into one of five categories - being blocked, being passed too close, another vehicle pulling in or out across a cyclist’s path, being driven at, and a near left or right hook.

While blocking incidents tended to be viewed as annoying but not so scary, issues such as close passes were much more likely to be seen as very scary.

Participants in the study said they believed most incidents could have been prevented – three quarters could have been avoided if other road users acted differently, and half if the road layout or condition were better, or separated infrastructure provided.

The report gives examples of some of the incidents recorded, which are likely to be familiar to anyone who cycles regularly in the UK.

One bike rider list from Hertfordshire said:

The bus was trying to overtake me all along the street, but it was too narrow, so he followed me really closely and then shot past as the road widened, missing me by inches. I felt very angry after, and very nervous as he followed me.

A Cheltenham cyclist related:

Very narrow country lane. Car approaches from rear, does not slow down from about 40 mph, and passes me very close - within 1 metre. Felt scared and intimidated.

Dr Aldred commented: “Many of these incidents correspond to types of injury collision, so it looks like collecting near miss data could help prevent injuries.

"Moreover, growing evidence suggests such incidents put people off cycling, and so reducing them could increase cycling uptake.

“Given cycling’s multiple benefits, it’s crucial cycling both is safe and feels safe, and near misses are an important part of the picture here.”

Emily Brooke, Blaze’s founder and chief executive, added: "Near misses happen all the time but while each individual one might not feel like more than a frustration or irritation at the time, taken together their ramifications are significant.

“Each one creates an immediate emotional impact and serious cases can stop people cycling."

The second edition of the Near Miss Project will start on 19 October and you can sign up here.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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