Road Safety News

Cycling Scotland launches ‘cycle space’ campaign

Thursday 21st May 2015

Cycling Scotland has launched a new campaign which asks drivers to give cyclists, especially children and young people, sufficient space when overtaking.

The campaign, Give Everyone Cycle Space, has been funded by Transport Scotland and will run across Scotland for four weeks on television, buses, bus shelters, phone boxes and online.

The national campaign is supported by a programme of school based activities including led rides from primary to secondary schools and route planning workshops to encourage more children and young people to cycle to school and other destinations.

A cycle stunt team will be on hand to help spread the message and highlight the ‘joy of cycling’.

Derek Mackay, Scotland’s minister for transport, said: “Last year we invested record levels of almost £40m on cycling projects. I am determined to increase this spend on cycling this year, not just on infrastructure but also by actively promoting cycling as a positive transport option with health and environmental benefits for all.

“People on bikes have as much right to be on the road as other transport users and we should all respect that. We need to be vigilant of vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians, young and old, and if we can share the roads in a manner which takes account of this then we will be creating a safer and healthier Scotland.”

Keith Irving, Cycling Scotland chief executive, added: “One of the key barriers to more people cycling is concern about traffic and road behaviour.

“This campaign reminds people to drive and overtake safely around people riding bikes and will help Scotland make progress towards the vision of 10% of journeys by bike by 2020.


Comment on this story
Report a reader comment

What's your view - comment on this story:

I confirm that I have read and accept the moderation policy and house rules relating to comments posted on this website.
Your comment:
Your name and location:
Your email:

Wow. Thank you Tim for agreeing to disagree. I fully appreciate that. I no longer have to discuss this matter further.

However, like you I have not finished. When it comes to Space then I am being fair to all road users and whilst I have advocated a greater degree of space by motorised vehicles I have also in other threads included bikes and the fact that is missing is that bikers themselves do not do themselves any favours by not appreciating the space around them in circumstances that I have mentioned before. Some seem impervious to the understanding of just how dangerous it is to be a cyclist on our road system. The same would apply to a pedestrian who decides to walk on the road instead of the pavement because it is the queens highway and argue, from a hospital bed, after being run over that they had the right to do it and that it was the motorists fault not theirs. That they take no blame in any way shape or form.

As regards your argument that space has been stolen, well, talk about something being laughable. You are obviously without any decent or reasonable argument anymore. We have not had a problem with cyclists on our roads for the last 60 or maybe 70 years. If space has been stolen then from who? .... everyone/no one.
Bob Craven Lancs.... Space is Safe Campaigner.

Agree (1) | Disagree (2)

Bob, we will have to disagree about whether having a mirror significantly enhances information available to a cyclist. What neither you, nor Duncan has yet done is explained what the cyclist can realistically do with the information that improves their chance of avoiding injury when being overtaken. If I treat the topic with humour it is because I find it laughable that the emphasis is being placed on the cyclist to avoid being hit by the motorist in this situation. You are the “space is safe campaigner”. What do you say to the theft by stealth of road space for cyclists over the past 50 years? The average bike is the same width as before, and most roads haven’t been widened, but the average motor vehicle is probably 0.5 metres wider, so two passing each other now occupy an additional 1 metre of roadwidth. Add many more motorists all expecting to proceed unhindered and a massive growth in on-street parking and you have the recipe for the intimidating situation this campaign is all about. Don't cyclists also deserve safe space?
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

Nick the last statement I made on this thread was somewhat longer than that entered and referred to other matters that Tim had previously mentioned re noise and an uncanny ability to know what was behind him and every other cyclist, by continuously looking behind. Maybe you felt that I had said enough but it was my intention not only to refute his argument but to raise awareness of the cyclists need to conform and relate to what has been constantly described as dangerous traffic conditions particularly all those dangerous overtakes.

Half of my dialogue was lost.

Both Duncan and Tim, apparent adversaries on this subject, have submitted long passages for consideration I wonder whether they have been subjected to similar cuttings. I do not say censorship.
Bob craven Lancs...Space is safe Campaigner.

Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

It amazing how someone with knowledge can be wrong or biased on so many points. I believe that when it come to cycling and cyclists there are unfortunately pressure groups and individuals who are willing to do anything to reduce any demands, road safety or otherwise, made upon the cycling fraternity no matter what the subject is that is being proposed.

As regards the argument of increasing the rear view being given by a mirror by a factor of 33, why stay at that? Why not just say a factor of 100 or 1000 times and the argument would still be the same. It's not about being able to read a number plate (backwards) at all. That is completely erroneous and obscured and shows a lack of reasonable argument though some may find it humorous. Yes we all know that trucks and other vehicles on the road are required by law to have mirrors but some non engine ones also would benefit from such. It will enable riders to have view behind them and enable them to assess the speeds and types of vehicles that may be wishing to overtake or the numbers of vehicles that one is holding up when riding at 10 mph in the centre of one's carriageway on single carriageway road.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner.

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

What says a lot is that in spite of your considerable learning you cannot grasp something fairly simple. It is hard not to see this as some kind of bias but I will try.

If you can gain all the information you need without the use of a mirror, even supposing you could enhance that by a factor of 33 by using a mirror you would not actually know any more useful information. You might be able to read the numberplate of the vehicle bearing down on you but that is irrelevant. I think you will find that trucks have huge mirrors because they meet all the manoevereing needs of a truck driver, not simply because being "slow moving" (which they often aren't) they are more likely to be overtaken. But then drivers of all motor vehicles are denied the aural input cyclists have by virtue of engine noise and insulation.

But where I really think you lose the plot is in the suggestion that as a credible safety measure all bicycles should be fitted with mirrors against the tiny probability that a cyclist, about to be actually struck by another vehicle from behind, should if they have the presence of mind and if circumstances permit, depart the carriageway or if not, presumably hurl themselves bodily off their bike in the hope that injuries received would be lessened.

Now don't get me wrong, if the circumstances demanded I would do just that. But this is in no way a credible way of addressing cyclist injuries or any other road safety issue. I would be less bothered if I didn't see you defending the grossest failings in others because a research study has given them a special name and told you they can't help it. If we cannot train road users to proceed with an appropriate level of care in the first place, we are hardly likely to make a significant improvement on the situation by trying to train people to take emergency evasive action.
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

Agree (7) | Disagree (1)

If cyclists want to fight for space, that is being given several yards when being overtaken by other vehicles, how come when in our country lanes they ride at speed some thirty or so strong and only inches apart. It only takes one to wobble then one goes down and they all go down. That to me would be a no no and made so obvious by the accidents seen on the TV Tour de whatever. And they are asking for space?

When out on my motorbike by myself or with others I give space, as much space as if I was following a car, and the same applies when overtaking another motorcycle or bicycle. I give space because that's what I was trained to do and am used to doing. I see cyclists apparently competing for space against each other on the road again only feet apart. Why?

Space is the answer but it applies to all road users, cyclists as well. Please can someone tell them that they should obey the laws and the recommendations in the Highway Code.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

Whats this question all about? Mirrors or not? When I was a kid on whatever bike I rode I put mirrors on it, big ones to give me the best possible look at what was coming up quickly at the rear of me, knowing that it would not be at the rear of me for long.

I rode in the first third of the tarmac, not in the gutter, so as I was in a seeable position but not in such that I would consequently inhibit the speed of others. By this initial position I would return nearer to the kerb and thus could allow other vehicles to overtake without the need to force them into the other side of the road. I followed the Highway Code in assisting other vehicles to drive past me with as little interaction as was possible. I didn't slow him down and he didn't get annoyed and cause me concern. There was respect. I believe that drivers actually slowed and showed me respect for my actions. No one cycled in the middle of the carriageway in an effort to reduce the risk to themselves by others overtaking, we were sensible and got out of their way.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner

Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

For your first question Rod find the answer by swapping the circumstances from the truck being behind you to it being in front of you. Would a rider faced with an oncoming truck that they see hasn't noticed them either carry on as if nothing's wrong or would they do something to ameliorate the situation? I suggest that even the most stupid of people would elect to get out of the way as quickly as possible!

As for an answer to your second question I suggest you get busy with the reading list and the contents of the research library at you will find all the answers you need there.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (1) | Disagree (7)


Perhaps you can enlighten me. I am cycling along and with my new rear view mirror I see a 40 ton truck 20ft behind me and I realise he has not noticed me. What do I do?

In another situation I see a car behind me. It disappears from view as the car pulls out to overtake. How do I identify that it is giving me too little room? I can't use the mirror because it is outside my field of view with the mirror. Perhaps you can add a bit of practicality to your hypotheses!

The idea that overtaking too close can somehow be down to shortcomings in the method of designing mirrors for cyclists rather than the person in control of the overtaking vehicle is ridiculous.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (7) | Disagree (0)

Why shouldn't it be the responsibility of 'the people doing the overtaking'? It's their vehicles which are bigger, heavier and moving faster with respect to the cyclist anyway. The motorist should think more and be prepared to make allowances for other road users. There's too much of this "you're slowing me down so I must overtake you even if there isn't much room" mentality.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (11) | Disagree (2)

Now we're getting somewhere! This is a classic illustration of why fault and blame are so counter-productive when it comes to improving road safety. Here we have a situation where the cycle sub-system is clearly deficient (affords no rear view) and yet the usual behaviourist solution to the problem is to tell the people doing the overtaking that it's their responsibility to make up for this deficiency in some way.

Clearly there is a problem with cycle mirrors which has caused them to be tried and discarded as being worse than useless, but this doesn't mean that there is not a design solution out there that solves the problem. The ease with which fault and blame can be used to disguise shortcomings in the system means that innovation and new ways of looking at problems are often not even considered. If the problem is agreed to be the other guy not being careful enough rather than a deficient sub-system then it's no wonder nobody bothers to try and solve the problem.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (1) | Disagree (8)

I recall as a youngster, fitting a mirror to my bike (at the right hand end of the handlebar) only to find that it did not stay in the one position long enough for me to to actually see anything clearly due to the inevitable, irregular movement of the handlebar! Cars and lorries don't have this problem.

When I ride now, my ears tell me if anything's behind me and how close it is and I can supplement this if necessary, by turning my head. I agree that some cyclists are not as aware as they need to be of what's going on behind them.

As an aside, near me there is a good stretch of rural 'A' road with, on one side, a designated cycle path, away from the traffic, with a smoother surface and whilst it is used by the majority of cyclists, some still choose to ride on the main carriageway putting themselves at risk from fast-moving, following traffic - can any cyclists out there suggest why they would do this?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

I don’t think anyone has opposed or belittled the suggestion of using mirrors on bicycles in the way you imply, Duncan. I think the responses have been based on practical experience. Mirrors and bicycles have both been around for a long time so there must be reasons why cyclists are not fitting mirrors.

As I see it the challenges are to identify:
• What shape and size of mirrors would provide sufficient rearward visibility?
• Where to site it/ them on a bicycle?
• How to protect the cyclist against additional risk from the mirrors in the event of any kind of crash?
• How to ensure that cyclists do not rely solely or mainly on the limited field of vision available in a mirror(s) and thus increase rather than decrease their awareness of traffic approaching from behind?

I think these issues are the reasons why mirrors are not routinely used on bicycles but perhaps other cyclists and cycle manufacturers can add to this discussion.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (8) | Disagree (0)

Each aural nerve contains thirty thousand axons and each optic nerve contains one million. Tell me again how using a sense 33 times more effective than the ears doesn't add to the amount of information that can be gained? Slow moving vehicles like trucks have huge mirrors because they are more likely to be the overtaken rather than the overtaker so what makes the cyclist different to the truck driver? Driving any vehicle on the road without mirrors is really, really scary and for most people their stress level would be off the graph were they required to do such a thing yet cyclists seem to be quite happy to do it without demur.

Mirrors clearly provide a significant safety advantage and I would have thought that in a safety forum such as this such an advantage would be actively promoted as potentially life saving. The fact that it is opposed and belittled says a great deal.
Duncan MacKillop. No Surprise - No Accident.

Agree (2) | Disagree (9)

As it happens I increasingly conduct meetings by teleconference. But clearly there are two compelling reasons why people at meetings face each other. One is to aid verbal exchange of information, the other, to enhance the working of a group by giving it a social dimension. Neither of these is relevant in the context of fitting a mirror to a bicycle. There is far more I could say about that but it is a complete red herring.

The key questions are; does fitting a mirror to a bike significantly increase a cyclist's information, and if so; does the information gained enable the cyclist to exercise safer options?

I contend that the answer to the first is "no". Head-turning at appropriate moments and frequency, coupled with listening when facing forward, provide all the information you actually need.

But suppose I were wrong about this, what exactly would the cyclist do with any additional information? When you are simply proceeding along the road at your chosen distance from the kerb, you are a relatively passive participant – “the overtaken”. Given that in almost all circumstances the overtaker misses by however small a margin the overtaken, what additional value does the mirror confer on the cyclist? Or indeed in the highly infrequent but regrettably real eventuality that the motorist actually strikes the cyclist how does the mirror help the cyclist to mitigate their risk of injury?

While having a mirror does not significantly increase information or safety, use of one in preference to looking behind deprives motorists of an important cue. A cyclist looking behind provides an alert that he/she is considering road positioning. This is critical when planning a manoeuvre such as a right turn and intelligent motorists often respond positively to frequent looks behind as a precursor to signalling a lane change. But I do it a lot when simply cycling where I know the road width is poor, especially if I think a vehicle approaching from behind is about to conduct an unwise overtake.
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

Agree (10) | Disagree (1)


I think that your response really does show how much such a campaign is required. I guess as a motorcyclist you may not get overtaken by cars or trucks and being a heavier vehicle anyway would be far less effected by their draught. But the fact is that whilst near-passing vehicles may not often hit cyclists they are extremely unnerving and can put many people off cycling.

The "fit and the brave" may well be able to reduce the differential speed or take up a position to control overtaking, but this may not be so comfortably done by the less experienced.

Public health professionals already recognise that it is "sedentary travel" that is the most dangerous and costly to us a society (in public health terms) and so any campaign such as this which increases the comfort for cyclists is certainly very beneficial. I guess the real measure is whether it will jolt drivers of motor vehicles out of their "well I didn't hit him" mentality and recognise the need to be a little more gracious in their overtaking and sharing of the roads.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (9) | Disagree (2)

Firstly it is great to see some focus on the issue of motorist giving cyclist safe passing distance as a cyclist and motorist myself I realise the importance of this. The only concern I would have about this campaign is that the cyclists in the video ,not all of them are wearing helmets. Well done to all involved besides, a great campaign.
Noel Gibbons, Mayo County Council

Agree (4) | Disagree (1)

Rod, if as you say the evidence shows that the greatest threat to cyclists is not from behind, but from in front and the side why are the good people at Cycling Scotland wasting public money on this campaign?
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (2) | Disagree (10)


Contrary to your beliefs, evidence shows that the greatest threat to cyclists is not from behind, but from in front and the side. Certainly from my cycling experience then I cannot envisage any situations where seeing an approaching and close threat from behind I could have taken any practical avoiding action.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (7) | Disagree (2)


I am sorry, but your argument is flawed on a number of levels:

"If a motorised vehicle, ie car or motorcycle or tractor or even a pedestrian on a motorised bicycle"

This excludes bicycles which are not motorised.

"has the intention of obstructing vehicles and preventing them from overtaking"

So there would need to be a proof that there was an "intention of obstructing".

With regard to overtaking, then a cyclist would only prevent overtaking if it took up the whole road. Overtaking normally involves moving into the opposing carriageway. In such a case it would be the approaching vehicles which would be preventing the overtaking.

"obstructing the free passage of others"

One could argue that the following driver still had free passage.

"A law enacted by Parliament and known as the Road Traffic Act 1960 sect.3 as amended "

Actually, the offence of driving without reasonable consideration under section 3 of the RTA 1988 is committed only when other persons are inconvenienced by the manner of the defendants driving, see section 3ZA(4) RTA 1988.

"therefore is immune to prosecution"

Immunity to prosecution only exists where an offence has been committed. In the case of a cyclist then the law does not apply to them and hence a a prosecution was never a potential outcome. In fact, the key, even with a driver driving a motor vehicle is that "there must be evidence that some other user of the road or public place was actually inconvenienced; Dilks v Bowman-Shaw [1981] RTR 4 DC". But even this is heavily weighted in favour of the highway having a wide variety of uses and users as "common law". See

"It was ever the case, that a traveller was entitled to stop on the King's Highway for so long as was necessary for the purposes of his journey. Having a lunch break, resting and feeding the horses, mending punctures and dealing with fellow-travellers who crash into you are all, it is submitted, perfectly lawful at Common Law. The right to pass and re-pass extends to all those. Now however, the traveller may also stop and demonstrate, stop and sell burgers, and indeed stop and indulge in any other reasonable activity. The test now is this: Is the obstruction reasonable or unreasonable? And in many ways, 'twas ever thus."

So, next time you feel "really inconvenienced" by a slow cyclist who has the temerity to cycle in the road when there are too many cars coming in the opposite direction for you to overtake, then just be thankful he hasn't instead excercised his right to stop, open his flask and have a cup of coffee.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (6) | Disagree (6)

You are quite right Rod. Perhaps I wrote it wrong or perhaps the gist of what I intended to say obviously eluded you.

May I therefore elucidate. If a motorised vehicle, ie car or motorcycle or tractor or even a pedestrian on a motorised bicycle, being subject to the laws of the land, was to drive at 10 mph anywhere on the Queens highway and by doing so has the intention of obstructing vehicles and preventing them from overtaking, it may be considered committing an offence by obstructing the free passage of others. It then becomes an offence under law and could be dealt with by the police and magistrates and the offender, if pleading or found guilty, could be penalised and fined and have a licence, should he hold one, endorsed. The offence would be driving without reasonable consideration for other road users. A law enacted by Parliament and known as the Road Traffic Act 1960 sect.3 as amended. Unfortunately a pedal cyclists cannot be dealt with for this offence and therefore is immune to prosecution. A situation I find intolerable but then that is only my opinion. Many moons ago on this site I did say that laws would have to be changed to accommodate cyclists and this is one of those occasions where it should be, with the greatest of haste so that such unreasonable behaviour on the part of the cyclist could be dealt with. I can understand why this position is being recommended as it is and has been for many years the position that a motorcyclist is advised to take in general driving situations. However a motorcycle can and indeed does ride to the legal speed limit and therefore does not inhibit general traffic patterns whereas a cyclist would. The same laws applies to the driver of a car or tractor or HGV. I trust that you can understand the above and accept that cyclists are not above the laws of the land as regards reasonable behaviour and considerations to other road users.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner.

Agree (6) | Disagree (6)

That's very interesting Tim, but let me ask you one question. When you are in a meeting or talking with friends do you face them or turn your back on them? If you turn your back on the people you are negotiating with then your knowledge and understanding of what they are doing or about to do will be severely impoverished. We do get used to operating in degraded situations like these, but that doesn't make those situations any less degraded or in the case of cycling any less dangerous.

Half of the human brain is dedicated to making predictions of the unfolding visual scene so unless cyclists have got eyes in the back of their head that ability is going to be entirely lost to them. Because of this, every other vehicle on the road is fitted with a mirror and its use is highly recommended, yet this doesn't appear to apply to cyclists which is strange considering their biggest threat is coming from behind them.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (5) | Disagree (12)

Re Duncan’s post:
The fact that you can’t see cyclists exercising responsibility is not a reason for believing they don’t. As has been remarked before on this forum, you tend not to see what you’re not looking for. If you want to accompany me on a bike ride I will explain to you how I am monitoring what is happening around me in all directions and continually adjusting my position according to judgements about likely outcomes based on traffic volume and speed in both directions, road width and layout. It may not be as sexy as motorcycling or flying a plane, but I haven’t spent forty years developing this essential survival skill which involves endless compensation for the failings of others only to be told that I am failing in my responsibilities to road safety by not having a mirror attached to my bike.

Where I come from we have developed a neat trick which enables us to know what is going on. It’s called “looking around you” and combined with the audio input to the two sensors conveniently positioned on either side of my head it provides all the information any competent cyclist needs to progress safely. I am still struggling to find even the remotest advantage a mirror confers on a cyclist when being overtaken at close quarters.
Tim Philpot

Agree (17) | Disagree (2)

The amount of space needed to be afforded to a cyclist is often a subject for debate, but it is beyond any dispute that many drivers pass riders without giving anywhere near enough room. This campaign normalises good behaviour and depicts everyone sharing the road with consideration. I like it.
David, Suffolk

Agree (15) | Disagree (0)

All those push-bikes and not one mirror between them! If the threats are coming from behind why do cyclists want to turn their back on them? It makes little or no sense as a safety strategy as it puts the entire responsibility for one person's safety on the shoulders of another. Like the spokesman says it's a shared responsibility so why isn't that responsibility actually being shared?
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (5) | Disagree (14)


I also agree with giving cyclists a wide berth. But I am not sure of the relevance of your comment about committing an offence "that would be if they were motorised". Surely the saame could be said of a "tractor if it were not a tractor", or even a "a pedestrian if it were motorised".

Surely the point is the cyclists are patently NOT motorised and therefore our Road Traffic Act takes into account the differences between motorised and non-motorised road users.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (13) | Disagree (3)

I agree with your comments on the space suggested in the campaign as being inadequate. I always used to guide people to give a coffin's length for space, a good 6ft. Many cylists ride to close to the kerb not giving them enough space to move into if a vehicle gets too close.

Agree (8) | Disagree (0)

Another article earlier on this site, from Ireland I think, argues for more space than that shown on this video as this is only half the space needed to be safe. I reckon that the space given to a horse rider would be about right and I drive and ride over to the other side of the road for them. If a cyclist falls off then they may take up at least 7or 8 ft of any road surface. The same distance or space should be given to any 2 wheeled vehicle motorised or not.

One of the problems is that cyclists have little knowledge of their own responsibilities and should read the Highway Code in order to be aware of what they are.

Already they are being taught to ride mid carriageway in order to exercise control over traffic around them and at their speed of say 10 mph they are to my mind committing a road traffic offence of reasonable consideration for other road users...that would be if they were motorised .
Bob Craven. Lancs... Space is Safe Campaigner

Agree (7) | Disagree (8)