In rail and air travel, research into near misses is a vital part of safety, but it’s never been something that’s been studied in the case of cycling. However, a new scheme called the Near Miss Project is planning to study ‘non-injury incidents’ among cyclists — and the programme’s organisers want as many riders as possible to contribute.
“Typically the cycling statistics that drive policies or drive thoughts are accidents where there have been fatalities, or people have been hospitalised, or the police have reported them,” Near Miss backer, and founder of Blaze Laserlights, Emily Brooke said.
“But it’s actually the near misses — the situations where you’ve been frightened or something has raised your heart rate — that influence how you cycle and even if you cycle at all. In one day I think I personally counted as many as seven near misses, 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.
“I think we cyclists condition ourselves to forget about these events almost as quickly as they happen, but we shouldn’t have to just accept them as part and parcel of cycling,” Emily said.
“So we’ve teamed up with Dr Rachel Aldred, senior transport lecturer at Westminster University and the leading expert in cycle safety in the UK, to create the Near Miss project and understand how, and why, these instances occur. We want to see whether something can be done differently to avoid similar situations — or the potential for something more serious — happening in future.”
To collate enough relevant data, Near Miss is asking cyclists to record the unpleasant incidents they experience on their bike in any single day between Monday October 20 and Sunday November 2. “It could be a vehicle pulling out in front of you and you’ve had to swerve, or an aggressive honk from another road user behind you, anything like that makes you feel uncomfortable,” Emily said.
Then the information will be studied and the research findings will be published. “I think it’ll be absolutely fascinating. We’ll see what these situations are, who they happen with, how they can be avoided, how they make cyclists feel. Then 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.”
To get involved, visit www.nearmiss.bike