Bicycle overtaking studies
In 2006, the EPSRC funded a project to investigate how drivers overtake bicycliss. Jeff Brewster, from the University of Bath Mechanical Engineering department, modified a bicycle subtly to carry a video system and accurate ultrasonic distance sensor which could record passing proximities.
Professionals (e.g., researchers, authorities, charities, etc.) may download this overview of the main results (PDF, 370k).
The paper containing most of the findings from this study is: Walker, I. (2007). Drivers overtaking bicyclists: Objective data on the effects of riding position, helmet use, vehicle type and apparent gender. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 39, 417-425.
Two subsidiary analyses were also published on Philica. There is a very slightly tongue-in-cheek (but probably accurate) analysis of white van overtaking and an analysis of time-of-day effects in overtaking behaviour.
Oh, and in the interests of openness, here is the complete raw data set (Excel format) for anyone who wants to check my calculations or do any interesting subsidiary analyses. (Word to the wise: you'll probably want to start with a square-root transform on the passing distances before using parametric statistics.)
Did you come here from the Cyclist View website? Please have a look at this blog post I wrote in response.
NEW for November 2012! Want to build your own distance sensor and collect your own data? I've published free plans (free as in beer and as in speech) for how to make a cheap Arduino-based device to stick on the back of your bike. Overtaking sensor plans.