More than a third of people in Scotland do not always leave the correct 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists, according to a new campaign.
The Cycling Scotland road safety campaign survey of more than 1,500 adults found that 80% of people find it “frustrating” to overtake cyclists.
Two thirds of people do not realise they could get three points on their license for driving too close to cyclists.
Careless overtaking is classed as dangerous driving and can result in three points and an £100 fine.
Close passes are an everyday experience for people cycling according to the Near Miss Project, with data suggesting every year people who regularly cycle will “experience an event that is so frightening that it alone makes them consider giving up cycling.”
Road safety statistics also shows that every week, on average, three cyclists suffer serious, life-changing injuries, usually from a collision with a vehicle.
Since lockdown, there has been a 77% increase in people taking up cycling, with Cycling Scotland chief executive Keith Irving saying the safety campaign, which launched on Monday, is more important than ever.
He said: “Cycling reduces our carbon footprint, improves our air quality and is fantastic for the nation’s health, and for those reasons we have to make sure this renewed enthusiasm for cycling continues and expands.
“People driving need to be aware of vulnerable road users around them and give at least a car’s width and even more when passing at higher speeds.
“Often that means waiting at a safe 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.”
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “We know that perceptions around road safety remain a barrier to people getting on their bikes.
“Across Scotland, we’re building protected infrastructure to remove cyclists from traffic and will continue to do so by supporting local authorities.
“At the same time, road safety campaigns, such as this campaign from Cycling Scotland, remain vitally important to spark conversations, encourage new thinking and change behaviours.”
Police Scotland head of road policing, Chief Superintendent Louise Blakelock, said that road safety remained a priority.
She added: “Since the coronavirus lockdown, we have seen an increase in the number of people using our roads for cycling. Now more than ever, we urge motorists to give cyclists, and other vulnerable road users, especially children, plenty of space.
“There is room for everyone and we encourage all road users to show consideration and respect for the safety of each other. We all have a duty to make our roads a safer place.”