Female cyclists more likely to suffer harassment

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Female cyclists are twice as likely as men to be subjected to bad driving and harassment from motorists, a new study by the Journal of Transport and Health has revealed.

The research, which involved 1,500 cyclists detailing their experience over a one-week period in an online diary, also found that frightening experiences arising from near misses and hostile road users were a daily occurrence for most riders.

Cyclists' accounts highlighted that female riders bore the brunt of drivers' frustration, as they tend to be slower than their male counterparts. On average women reported 0.42 incidents per mile cycled, compared to 0.24 for men.

Most commonly, cyclists reported being overtaken too closely – which made up a third of reported incidents – and cars turning across their path, often on purpose.

The study, titled the Near Miss Project, also showed that drivers are more likely to be hostile towards a cyclist if they are perceived to be holding them up.

One rider's diary entry read: "As I arrived at the pinch point, a driver attempted to overtake me, but was forced to abandon this attempt at the last second. Just after the pinch point, the driver revved their engine and overtook in an impatient fashion."

To avoid the wrath of motorists and other road users, the research highlighted that cyclists needed to be quite fast – something that is likely to be a barrier to the government's attempts to increase the number of people traveling on two wheels.

Rachel Aldred, who led the study, told The Guardian: "People reflected and said, 'You have to go really fast.' And that is my experience, too. If you're cycling more slowly, more sociably, you potentially do face greater hostility than if you're able to keep up with motor traffic, and not be overtaken quite so much."

She went on to say that she was sceptical that education alone could solve the problem, and stated that a proper cycling infrastructure, in which cyclists are separated from drivers, was the only real solution.

Do you experience harassment while cycling? Has it put you off using your bike? Have your say in the comments section below.