Near Miss project finds women bear the brunt of bad driving and harassment

Near Miss project

The Near Miss project, led by LCC trustee Rachel Aldred, has found that female cyclists are almost twice as likely as their male counterparts to be subject to harassment or bad driving. 

The study involved more than 1500 cyclists completing an online diary of their cycling experiences during one day of a two week period last October, answering questions about frightening events. On average, women reported about 0.42 ‘near miss’ or harassment incidents per mile, compared with 0.24 per mile for men.

One of the reasons for this could be that women are more likely to be subject to harassment in the street no matter what their mode of transport. A recent report showed that 90% of British women reporting experiencing street harassment for the first time before the age of 17.  

When it comes to near misses rather than verbal harassment, it’s likely that speed is a factor too – the study found that on average, women reported slower speeds, and there seems to be a correlation between this and the frequency of near misses. People completing a journey at an average speed of below 8mph experience three times as many near misses as people completing a similar length journey at an average speed of over 12mph.

It’s possible that faster cyclists experience fewer overtakes because they are on the road for a shorter time over a given distance.  

Regardless, it’s clear that these experiences are symptomatic of a road environment that can be very hostile for cyclists – and that redesigning our streets to provide space for cycling is the way to eliminate this kind of conflict. Provision like the new cycle superhighways - as long as they offer dedicated, protected space on roads with fast moving or heavy traffic - will offer a much safer and inviting environment for cycling.

Equally, lowering the speed and volume of motor traffic on back streets routes would go a long way towards improving our streets for cycling. Residential roads that suffer from rat running are often locations for near miss incidents - closing these roads to through motor traffic would both lower the likelihood of this type of incident taking place, and create a more pleasant environment for everybody.