Give Cycle Space: Dylan's story
12 May 2023
Our Give Cycle Space campaign, supported by Police Scotland, reminds drivers to leave space for a life.
Dylan McDonald, who regularly cycles to work in Edinburgh, shares why it's essential for drivers to give cycle space.
Ninety-seven percent of drivers agree that people who drive too close to people cycling are putting lives at risk. However, well over a third admit that they don’t see someone cycling as a person and are more focused on getting by them and carrying on with their journey. People who drive often fail to consider that cyclists are just like them – a person with a life and loved ones simply trying to get from A to B.
Dylan McDonald is a 26-year-old property administrator, who works for a housing association in Edinburgh’s south. As someone who cycles around 40 miles a week, he regularly uses his bike to commute from his home in Leith to work, meet up with friends and attend basketball training and games.
“Cycling has been my main mode of transport for about 14 years,” said Dylan. “When I was in school it gave me a new-found freedom, and as an adult, I find it the more practical way to get around Edinburgh, especially during peak times and festivals.”
Dylan cycles most days and said the experience of drivers passing too closely is frequent, especially during rush hour. He explained, “People are quite quick to go past you when in a rush to get to work or wherever they need to be, and they seem to rarely think about the person on a bike.
“A couple of months back, I had a really close shave with a driver at a left-only junction near the University of Edinburgh. When the light went green, the car beside me overtook me whilst I was turning on the junction and cut me off. I was wearing high vis and had my lights on, and the driver still only left about half a metre of space between us as he passed, nearly crashing into me – I was spooked and furious.”
Unfortunately, Dylan’s experience is not unique. On average, four people cycling per week in Scotland suffer serious, potentially life-changing injuries from a vehicle collision – and close passes are a daily experience for people cycling. This driving is not just irresponsible and dangerous, it is also illegal, with drivers facing penalties – and in some cases convictions – for overtaking without allowing 1.5m of space between their vehicle and the cyclist.
Dylan added: “Close passes have made me extra vigilant – more than I should be, as I feel like I need to be the eyes for the driver, as well as for me, to make sure I’m visible and stay safe.
“I’ve recently passed my driving test, and considering people on bikes when you’re making choices as the driver is really honed into you when you’re learning. I think it’s a habit we forget about the longer we drive, but roads would be much safer if everyone understood the dangers at play from all perspectives when we share the road.”
Supported by Police Scotland, Cycling Scotland’s annual ‘Give Cycle Space’ campaign aims to reduce close pass incidents and make Scotland’s roads safer for people cycling by raising awareness of the legal passing distance and the responsibility of drivers to safely overtake.