Give Cycle Space: Shgufta's story

4 May 2023    

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

Shgufta Anwar, Founder of Glasgow-based cycling charity Women on Wheels, shares her experience of a close pass and 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.

Shgufta Anwar is the Founder of Women on Wheels, a charity based in Glasgow’s southside, which helps women overcome barriers to take up cycling. A mum of two, she regularly cycles to work and for leisure, both solo and with friends and family.

“I took up cycling as an adult in a Muslim Women’s charity,” explains Shgufta. “I experience so much joy from cycling and I’m extremely lucky to pass that joy onto many other women.”

Shgufta loves cycling and is a confident cyclist, but unfortunately, she has experienced the fear that comes from drivers passing too closely. She explains, “having cycled for years, being closely overtaken is an all too familiar occurrence, but my worst experience was when out cycling with my children.

“I was cycling with my girls - then both late primary school age – on Argyle Street, all of us cycling safely and following the rules of the road. I was in front (primary position), with my youngest behind me and the eldest behind her, both in secondary position. A car came up really close to my daughter in the middle and revved the engine. Unsurprisingly, this scared my daughter who wobbled and nearly fell on to the road. It was terrifying and shocking for all three of us – especially as the driver behaved so aggressively for no reason. Fortunately, she regained her balance, but it was a really scary experience for us all and she could have been seriously injured.”

Unfortunately, Shgufta’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.

Shgufta adds: “I’m also a driver and recognise that sometimes hazards that are obvious to cyclists just aren’t as apparent to drivers. Before I cycled, I had an experience where I was driving and turned into Kelvin Way, and caused a cyclist to swerve. I didn’t initially realise I had done anything wrong, and this really made me think twice about my behaviour as a driver.

“As a person who cycles and drives, I think about both when I make choices on the road. I believe Scotland’s roads would be a lot safer if all drivers had this perspective - especially if they knew how frightening it was when a car passes too closely.”

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: