Give Cycle Space: Derek's story

4 May 2023    

Our Give Cycle Space campaign, supported by Police Scotland, reminds drivers to leave space for a life.

Derek Neilson, who cycles to work every day in Aberdeen, 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.

A long-term commuting cyclist, Derek Neilson manages Aberdeen facilities management and security company, Apardion, based in the city centre. For 25 years, he’s made the five-mile trek from the Bridge of Don into Aberdeen and back again on his bike.

Derek commented: “I’ve worked at various sites in and around Aberdeen over the years and commuted on my bike most days – I’ve always really enjoyed cycling to commute.”

Derek believes the experience of being overtaken too closely is far too common in Scotland’s north, with few drivers considering why people cycling make certain choices on the road. He explained, “Road conditions aren’t always great and people driving don’t often understand people on bikes are trying to avoid potholes and other hazards.

“Just like driving a car, when cycling it’s often difficult to gauge the depth of a pothole or the extent of a hazard until you’re upon it. But unlike a car, a person on a bike is on two much smaller and much more easily punctured tyres and these hazards pose a greater risk to the cyclist’s safety.

“It’s hard to single out one time when I have been really shaken by a near miss, as I reckon I am closely overtaken by a vehicle at least once a day. It never gets easier, sadly.”

On average, four people cycling per week in Scotland suffer serious, potentially life-changing injuries from a vehicle collision – and close passing is a frequent factor. 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.

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. 

Find more information about the campaign here: