Scottish drivers risk three points and a £100 fine for passing too close to cyclists

Eight in ten motorists find it “frustrating” overtaking someone cycling and more than a third don’t always leave the designated 1.5 metres.

Saturday, 11th July 2020, 4:45 pm
Operation Close Pass...Chief Superintendent Louise Blakelock and Cycling Scotland chief executive Keith Irving at the campaign launch. (Pic: Roddy Scott)

And two thirds of people don’t know they could get three points on their licence for driving too close to someone cycling on Scotland’s roads.

These are the findings of two new polls commissioned by the nation’s cycling organisation, Cycling Scotland, to mark the launch of its annual nationwide campaign, supported by Police Scotland.

It is a careless driving offence for motorists to close-pass – overtake with less than a car’s width.

Sign up to our daily The Southern Reporter Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

People can get a fixed penalty of three points on their licence and be fined £100 – or receive a criminal conviction for more serious offences.

But close passes are an everyday experience for people cycling across the UK, with data suggesting every year people who regularly cycle will “experience an event that is so frightening that it makes them consider giving up cycling”.

Latest road safety statistics show that every week in Scotland at least three cyclists suffer life-changing injuries, usually from a collision with a vehicle.

Some areas have seen a 77 per cent increase in cycling during lockdown.

Keith Irving, Cycling Scotland chief executive, said: “We have to make sure this renewed enthusiasm continues.

“People driving need to be aware of vulnerable road users and give at least a car’s width and even more when passing at higher speeds. Often that means waiting at a distance until there is space to pass.

“Many people don’t realise that driving too close to someone is damaging even when no contact is made and can put people off cycling.

“Concern about road safety is also the main reason people don’t get back on their bike.”

The campaign, funded by Transport Scotland and backed by Police Scotland, runs until August 3.

Police Scotland will be conducting Operation Close Pass to promote the safe use of shared road space.

A police officer cycling in plain clothes and with cameras will alert a colleague, further up the road, if they are passed too closely by a car. The motorist will then be pulled over to discuss their driving.

Chief Superintendent Louise Blakelock, Police Scotland head of road policing, said: “Since the coronavirus lockdown, we have seen an increase in the number of people using our roads for cycling.

“There is room for everyone and we encourage all road users to show consideration and respect for each other’s safety. We all have a duty to make our roads a safer place.”

To find out more about the campaign, visit