Cycling Scotland’s Give Cycle Space campaign


As our world and our behaviour has changed this year, more people cycling has been one of the few lights in a dark time. Cycling Scotland recorded a 77% increase across 22 locations in Scotland in May this year, compared to last year.

Amongst many other organisations, we are supporting more people to access bikes and the feedback has often been about the unexpected joy of cycling. In the midst of so much sad news, it’s been uplifting to see more people enjoy the health and happiness benefits of cycling, as well as how practical it is to travel by bike. 

We recently did research with YouGov to understand why more people have been cycling and 50% of people surveyed cited less traffic as a reason. Hearing from and seeing so many people, old and young, travelling by bike, including families venturing onto the roads with young children, it’s clear we can’t return to normal.

As we move out of lockdown, we are seeing road traffic increase again and tragedies as a result.  Each week in Scotland, three people cycling suffer a life-changing injury and in the majority of cases, it’s the person driving, not the person cycling, at fault. This is not acceptable, we have to do better.

Dedicated, separated cycling lanes on roads is the biggest priority to make cycling safer and the recent funding allocation from the Scottish Government to help local authorities implement them quickly, as well as other changes to make cycling, walking and wheeling easier, is an important step.

With transport being the largest single contributor to carbon emissions in Scotland, it’s more important than ever we support people to cycle, walk or wheel, rather than drive, for short journeys, in order to tackle climate change. People need to feel safe cycling on our roads.

We launch our annual Give Cycle Space campaign on 6 July, urging people driving to give space to people cycling. That means giving at least 1.5 metres when passing someone on a bike – and can mean waiting at a safe distance until there is that space to pass.  Our campaign highlights the risk of getting three points on their licence after our research showed these consequences would be the biggest motivator for change. In March 2019, before we launched our campaign, only 27% of people in Scotland were aware you can get three points on your licence and a £100 fine for driving dangerously or carelessly around people on bikes.

We repeated our research in February 2020 and awareness had improved to 36% but there’s still a long way to go to improve road safety in general and for cycling in particular.

There is no single action to improve road safety; a combined approach of engineering, education and enforcement is essential.

This includes Operation Close Pass, a police operation to educate drivers and take enforcement action wherever necessary, and signs on roads (we are currently developing a pilot project with Transport Scotland).

This pandemic has taught us many things, one of them is we can make changes quickly if we really put our minds to it.  Let’s make our country more cycling-friendly. 

Author – Denise Hamilton from Cycling Scotland

Advertising Campaign

Operation Close Pass

Support the campaign

To support our campaign we’ve launched a handy toolkit that explains more about the campaign. It includes key messages, social media posts, and newsletter copy.