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Study Reveals Cyclists Experience a “Very Scary Incident” Once a Week

By Principal Lawyer, Personal Injury

According to the Near Miss Project cyclists experience a “very scary incident” once a week.

Cyclist JunctionThe Near Miss Project is a cycling study that examines the so-called ‘ordinary’ experience of near misses or ‘non-injury incidents.’

The Near Miss Project was launched in an effort to gain a better understanding of how often such incidents, which typically go unaccounted for, occur and what kind of effect they have on cyclists.

The project enlisted the help of 1,700 cyclists across the country and asked them to record their cycling experience on a particular day known as their ‘diary day.’ More than 1,500 cyclists recorded almost 5,000 near misses.

Examples of near miss incidents shown on the Near Miss Project website can be seen below:

The vast majority of the cyclists who took part in the project experienced numerous close encounters with traffic on their chosen ‘diary day’, with around one in seven of these encounters classed as “very scary.”

Around 1 in 20 such incidents involved deliberate aggression such as verbal abuse, inappropriate use of the horn, and what are known as ‘punishment passes.’

Women were found to experience 50% more ‘close passes’ than men although according to cycling website Road CC, statistically, the primary predictor for such incidents was speed rather than gender. “In short, the slower you ride, the more likely it is you will experience a near miss.”

Whether the two factors of gender and speed are linked is something we have blogged on previously, examining how male riders are often perceived as both more road-confident and less safety-conscious, and as such, tend to ride faster and more aggressively than women.

The Near Miss Project findings revealed that those cycling below 8mph experience three times as many near misses than those travelling faster at more than 12mph, with female cyclists far more likely to be affected than men.

Amongst the 1,500 recorded near miss incidents collated by the researchers, the most frequently cited factors included aggressive overtaking manoeuvres, left hooks, tailgating, failure to indicate and sudden lane changes with no consideration for the presence of cyclists.

Use of the horn, frequent abuse, engine revving and drivers routinely disregarding the safety and comfort of cyclists were all prevalent themes as was a general feeling of powerlessness and humiliation amongst riders as a result of aggressive driver behaviour.

The Near Miss Project report paints a terrifying picture whereby potentially life-threatening incidents often involving buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), are a normal everyday occurrence for most cyclists.

Worryingly, far too many recorded near miss incidents involved large vehicles such as HGVs where clearly, the margin for error on either the cyclists or driver’s part could easily be catastrophic.

The Near Miss Project want their findings to be used by policymakers to inform street design and educate road users as to how a near miss incident can profoundly influence someone’s desire to continue cycling.

Cycling accident figures are actually extremely low when compared against the actual number of cycling journeys made across the country each day. According to the Near Miss Project, the seemingly irrational discrepancy between accident figures and people’s fear of cycling can perhaps be explained by the fact that dangerous close-calls cause many people to conclude that cycling on Britain’s roads is just too frightening.

Clearly, any near miss incident can be an extremely unpleasant and disturbing experience to both seasoned and novice cyclists and it is sadly no surprise that such incidents often put people off regular cycling for life.

Unfortunately near misses have simply become just another part of many cyclists’ daily commute. This needs to change. Alongside drink-driving, aggressive driving needs to be highlighted as unacceptable and we also need to look at how we can change our existing road culture.

In addition, infrastructural change is key, as is examining present cycling accident prevention strategies such as cycle-friendly ‘early release’ junctions and more widespread use of segregated cycle lanes.

Paul Kitson is a keen cyclist and Slater and Gordon’s Principal Lawyer for the CTC, the UK’s national cycling charity.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers have secured more than £40 million in compensation for CTC Members who have been injured in cycling accidents since 2002.

For a free consultation or to claim compensation for cycling accident injuries, call our specialist Cycling Accident Solicitors 24/7 on freephone 0808 175 8105 or contact us online and we will call you.

Personal Injury, cycling accident

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