The Near Miss Project, a new research collaboration announced today, is to log cycling near misses and other non-injury related cycling incidents on UK roads.
Lead researcher Dr. Rachel Aldred, Senior Transport Lecturer at Westminster University, said: “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.”
She added: “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.”
Cyclosts who take part in the study will be asked to complete a "One Day Diary", an online questionnaire including both quantitative and qualitative elements.
Emily Brooke, founder of Blaze, a crowd-funded front bike light, is co-funding the research. She said: “Danger is undeniablya 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.
“Everyone at Blaze rides and the safety of all cyclists is something we care greatly about. It was only when we started developing the project that, as a daily London cyclist, I became aware of how regularly I 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, 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.
“With the Near Miss Project we want to interrogate how, and why, these instances occur and encourage all road users to think about whether something could have been done differently to avoid a similar situation - or the potential for something more serious - in future. 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."