Cyclists being put at risk due to lack of ‘shared space’ knowledge on roads

26th Sep 2019
Lisa Boyle

Cyclists being put at risk due to lack of ‘shared space’ knowledge on roads

Cyclists and pedestrians in Scotland are being put in danger because of a lack of education on how to safely share space on our roads, according to personal injury lawyers.

Watermans Solicitors is highlighting the issue following a recent admission from the Scottish Government that there is no agreed definition on what constitutes ‘shared space’ on the country’s roads and as a result, no single body in Scotland has responsibility for public education in this area.  The admission came in response to a Scottish Parliamentary Written Question.


Heather Tierney, Senior Solicitor at Watermans Solicitors, said: “Cycling offers many environmental and health benefits but cyclists and pedestrians sharing space can pose risks to both.

“Greater understanding of how to stay safe in shared spaces are essential to preventing injuries. We see the consequences of a lack of awareness around safety in this area through representing both cyclists and pedestrians who have been injured in shared spaces.

“In order for cyclists and pedestrians to co-exist successfully on our roads, both require to be educated appropriately on road safety.  With the Scottish Government confirming that no single body is responsible for educating users on sharing space, there is a real risk that we see accidents and injuries that could have been prevented. Who will be responsible for enforcing safety in such shared spaces?

“With increasing numbers of cyclists on the roads, this is an issue that is only likely to get worse.  Action is needed to protect potentially vulnerable road users of all types.”

Watermans commissioned research into public views on cycling safety earlier this summer.  The research (see note 3), which questioned a representative panel of people across Scotland, found:


  • Over half of Scots respondents disagreeing with the statement “cycling is a safe method of travel”
  • Similarly, there was a split in option on whether ‘cyclists shouldn’t be allowed to use major roads’
  • 96 per cent of respondents in Scotland agreed with the statement that ‘All road users must be held accountable to the law’


We are now calling for action to increase understanding of how cyclists, pedestrians and other road users can safely share space on our increasingly busy road network.