A study to find out the where, when and how of cycling and the sorts of incidents cyclists experience will provide evidence for future government transport policy and planning, UNSW researchers say.

The Safer Cycling Study is recruiting around 2,000 cyclists from across NSW to provide one week snapshots of their riding experiences, on six occasions over the course of a year, via a series of online questionnaires.

After completing a baseline questionnaire about bicycling habits, the follow-up questionnaires will ask participants to record distances travelled and infrastructure used, and to log crashes, near misses and injuries, and to identify factors they believe contributed to those events.

"The project will provide vital knowledge to inform policy and planning with respect to transport and health, and inform future health and safety promotional campaigns," said the study's lead researcher, Dr Ros Poulos, from the School of Public Health and Community Medicine (SPHCM).

"We need to evaluate the level of risk associated with cycling. Without that information we won't know whether we're doing a good job or not as we develop infrastructure."

The RTA is a major sponsor of the study along with Bicycle NSW, Sydney South West Area Health Promotion Service and Willoughby City Council.

Dr Poulos said road dangers are commonly cited as reasons for not getting on a bike - usually by people who don't cycle. "So there is a perceived risk associated with cycling. If we are going to promote cycling, we need to have some solid data about how risky it really is."

"We don't believe cycling is so dangerous that we are going to get lots of crashes reported, which is why we are collecting data on near misses as well," Dr Poulos said.

"If you can fix and avoid a near miss, you are likely to prevent a crash for somebody else later on."

Other Chief Investigators in the study are Dr Julie Hatfield (psychologist), Prof Raphael Grzebieta (engineer), A/Prof Andrew McIntosh (biomechanicist) from UNSW and Prof Chris Rissel (epidemiologist) from the University of Sydney. The research is funded by an ARC Linkage Grant.

Cyclists can enroll in the study via the website.

The study's progress can be followed via Facebook.

Media contact: Steve Offner, UNSW Media | 02 9385 8107|