There’s nothing that deters people from cycling more than being involved in a collision or near miss. But a new web app aims to give transport planners and medical professionals data on how and where these incidents occur.
The site’s first sponsor is the Bespoke Study, a project looking into London cycling collisions which is backed by Barts Health NHS Trust.
It launched earlier this month, and users are filling it up with testimony of just how hairy cycling can be. Reports filed close to Nesta’s City of London office range from a near miss by Smithfield Market - a car pulling out in front of a cyclist - to a tragedy at Ludgate Circus when a cyclist died after being crushed by a tipper truck.
mySociety’s commercial manager, Ben Nickolls, says Collideoscope’s aim isn’t to take sides in the debate over cycling safety – it’s to gather evidence to inform that debate.
“Our main purpose is to be as open and possible with the information,” he says. “We want to get a picture of the safety and experience of cycling, and to show it openly and widely.”
“It’s a nice way to experiment with FixMyStreet and demonstrates it isn’t just about potholes,” Nickolls says. “It’s nice to have a FixMyStreet project we can take ownership of.”
The link-up with Barts Charity came after Nickolls saw a story on cycling website Road.cc, which said the organisation was looking to raise £650,000 for research into cycling collisions, which would include a database.
“We’d been talking about the idea and we knew we could build one for a fraction of the cost they were talking about,” he says.
“So we talked to them, built a very simple version of FixMyStreet and presented it to them, and they were very happy to be the first sponsor of the site.”
The site notched up 2,000 page views in its first week, and had 40 incidents recorded.
“We’re finding people are staying on the site for three to three-and-a-half minutes when they visit,” Nickolls says.
“Whereas FixMyStreet is transactional, with Collideoscope, you might be there seeing what it’s like cycling in your area.”
“We wanted the site to be useful from the start,” he says. “Depending on the site traffic, we may import 2014’s data too. It complements what’s on the site.”
Looking for sponsors
Now mySociety and ITP are looking for more sponsors to guarantee the future of Collideascope. Larger groups can become a partner or marquee sponsor, while smaller groups can buy a £250 “micro-sponsorship” to receive notifications of incidents in their area.
“It’s aimed at cycle campaign groups in cities or boroughs,” Nickolls says. “I know my cycling club could afford that.”
Councils can also have branded versions of Collideascope, in the same way as they can have their own versions of FixMyStreet.
A smartphone app’s under consideration, but the first aim is to build the reach of the site. mySociety is also looking at working with other projects, such as the Near Miss Project, which is following cyclists’ experiences including abuse and harassment.
“We’re open to working with others,” Nickolls adds. “We just want to share data to influence the debate.”