Interview with Dr Rachel Aldred on increasing everyday cycling – the write-up

Podcast interview logoJust before Christmas, I interviewed Dr Rachel Aldred, who does fantastic work both as a Senior Lecturer in Transport at the University of Westminster, and with her Near Miss Project, looking at what helps and hinders people to cycle more in the UK, including a focus on issues of equality, diversity and equity in cycling.  You can listen to the interview as a podcast here, and I’ve transcribed it below, if you prefer to read instead.


ProWomensCycling: Can you describe what you do in a nutshell?

Rachel Aldred:  I do a lot of research in cycling in a range of ways, using a lot of different methods, but cycling is really my research passion.   I also teach Transport Planning as well, and lead an MSc in Transport Planning.

PWC: And you have quite a lot of other strings to your bow – you’re involved in the London Cycling Campaign, and a lot of other projects.  The one I was interested in is the Near Miss Project – can you tell us a little more about that?

RA:  The Near Miss Project got going just over a year ago, and it looks at cycling ‘near misses’, but at the heart of it, I wanted to do this One Day Diary, and get people to record cycling trips, and any near miss-type incidents they experienced over the course of one day, and then the idea was to derive a near miss rate that you could compare with injury rates, for example, because it seemed to me – and we know now from the research too – that near misses are really very common, and can have a substantial impact on people, but there’s very little work done on them.  We don’t know how often they happen, and so on.  So I really wanted to find out about near misses, both from injury prevention purposes, but also from the cycling experience angle, that these things that happen, potentially, every day, could have a substantial impact on people, and how people feel about cycling.

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Increasing everyday cycling: Sarah interviews Dr Rachel Aldred

Podcast interview logoThere are a lot of theories on how to get more people riding their bikes, and what stops people cycling, but some of the most interesting research in the UK is being done by Dr Rachel Aldred, a Senior Lecturer in Transport at the University of Westminster.  She’s got a really interesting perspective, coming at transport policy from a background in sociology, and she’s especially interesting for her approach of looking at how social, cultural and infrastructure issues interact, and also her focus on diversity in cycling – including specific issues around cycling for women, older people, Black and other minority ethnic communities, disabled people, children and more.

We talked about what her research has shown her about barriers that stop people cycling, what more could be done, and the initiative she set up last year, the Near Miss Project, and what that’s already showing about attitudes to cycling.  This is naturally a little bit UK-focused, but there’s so much here that will be applicable everywhere, so if you’re not in the UK, don’t let that stop you!

Listen to the podcast here, or click through to Soundcloud to download it, or you can read the interview over here.



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Find out more about Dr Aldred’s work on her website – and I recommend the paper she co-authored with James Woodcock and Anna Goodman, Does More Cycling Mean More Diversity in Cycling?  And follow her twitter for lots of fantastic links to research and work on cycling issues. (You can get to her paper about protective gear that we talked about from here, and to her blog about MGIF & cost-benefit analysis).  The work she did on the Cycling Cultures Project on their website.

Definitely check out the Near Miss Project website, and if you’re in the UK, ask your local Police Force if they have a way to report cycling near misses – and then, if you experience them, report them (for example, here’s how you can report to Avon & Somerset Police).  And if you want to help improve things for everyday cyclists, contact your local democratic representatives to tell them what you’d like to see, and help them hear positive stories about cycling (in the UK?  Contact your Councillor, MP, and Scottish/Welsh/London Assembly representative!).

I’m funded to do these interviews thanks to my wonderful Patreon supporters – thank you so much!  If you want to join them from just $2 a month, there’s more information here.

Great articles about cycling, equality, infrastructure and more

I am always interested in the wider debates about how to get more people cycling, in the UK, because that’s where I’m based, and elsewhere.  I’m especially interested in how these are framed – my work history includes a lot of work on areas of deprivation, increasing equality and so on, so I’m especially interested in work that looks at the way issues of gender, ethnicity and diversity intersect, as well as poverty/wealth.  So I love the work of Dr Rachel Aldred, a Senior Lecturer in Transport at the University of Westminster who, among other things, has set up the Near Miss Project which is pretty self explanatory.

Her latest piece on her site is ‘Culture, Equity and Cycling Infrastructure‘, and it has so much information about how different groups using cycling in different ways, and issues that need to be tackled at all kinds of levels.  I especially appreciate the fact she places infrastructure at the heart of it all, because that chimes with my own personal experiences.  I was going to pull out some quotes out to illustrate it, but really, you should click through and read it all, it packs a lot of interconnected information in, with a really engaging mix of academic and personal background.


Coming from a different direction is one of my favourite cycling bloggers, Lindsay Barlow, whose piece ‘Let’s talk about bike-ism: You don’t get to judge me for my Lycra‘ has a serendipitous link to Aldred’s article through the conversations about cycling stigma and infrastructure.  Lindsay talks about her frustrations at the negativity and judgement both from non-cyclists and media and from within parts of the cycling community, and I love her very personal framing.  There’s anger there, especially talking about the death of a member of her cycling community, but it’s that kind of anger that can be a catalyst for change, and that’s really important.


Of course you can follow both of these writers on twitter at @RachelAldred and @TourdeLindsayB.  And if you, like me, are interested in women’s participation in cycling, or women and sport in general, some more things, which you have probably seen already, but they’re worth repeating:



As always, if you’ve seen more links on these topics that you’d like to share, please do tell me in the comments, or on twitter, and I’ll put up another post of them.