The Near Miss Project, the first study to calculate a per-mile near miss rate for UK cyclists, has published a report on its first year findings into cycle safety. The report looks not just at the numbers of near misses but also how they affect people and behaviours and how this data can be used to improve road safety for cyclists. 

Just over 1,500 cyclists kept a record of their cycling over a two week period, documenting each journey and any incidents encountered into various categories. Over this period, the group recorded just under 4,000 incidents between them. The Near Miss Project analysed the data and some of the key findings included :

  • Speed is a key factor but, perhaps surprisingly, those travelling more slowly encounter more incidents
  • A regular commuting cyclist is likely to experience a ‘very scary’ incident once every week 
  • The majority of the incidents involved either being blocked in by passing vehicles, being passed too close and vehicles pulling out into or across a cyclist’s path.

The participants were asked to detail the nature of the incident and how they felt about it; to consider how the incident occurred and how it might have been avoided. Although three quarters of the incidents were felt to be due simply to the actions of other road users, those reporting them thought that, in many cases, a different road layout would have avoided the incident.

Philippa Luscombe, partner in the personal injury team at Penningtons Manches, comments: “We deal with a lot of personal injury claims involving cyclists injured on the roads. This is an interesting study which looks at the situations where serious or fatal injury could have occurred and to try to identify themes in incidents involving cyclists in order to improve awareness and, ideally, road policy. While a study of this kind cannot prevent road users from driving badly, it is interesting that so many of the participants felt that road lay out and segregation of cyclists could make a big difference. With the work currently going on in London looking at how motor vehicles and cyclists can road share, it would be good to see this data used in highway planning and safety where it could help to reduce the number of injuries sustained by cyclists.”