Glasgow by Bike

Tackling the emotional fear of cycling on roads

Glasgow by Bike

Tackling the emotional fear of cycling on roads


Cycling benefits both the individual and wider society, but 70% of non-cyclists feel that it is too dangerous to cycle on the roads. 

The emotional fear of existing with motorised traffic is the largest barrier to getting more people cycling for everyday journeys.

Cyclists have played a large and unrecognised role in the development of modern roadways, but the domination of the motor vehicle has transformed the way in which we share our roads. Research on drivers’ attitudes towards cyclists has shown that people in car-centric countries such as the UK sometimes do not view those on bicycles as “proper” road users, and at times treat them as if they shouldn’t be on the road at all. Unfortunately, this has resulted in stigma that associates cycling within cities as a dangerous way of getting around; one of the greenest and cheapest ways of travel is now seen as one of the most dangerous.

Around 60% of the UK population are ‘Interested but Concerned’ when it comes to cycling as a means of transport - it’s something many would like to reap the benefits of, but the emotional fear barrier of existing and interacting with motorised traffic prevents people from doing so. By tackling this perceived fear barrier, cycling as a greener and more sustainable method of transport might become more accessible, appealing and encouraging.

Shifting away from the ‘here & now’, where a greater perceived fear barrier causes a negative cycle...

cycle1 a ‘there & then’, where a reduction in fear barriers creates a positive cycle...

... helping the 'interested but concerned' become 'confident and aware'.

... helping the 'interested but concerned' become 'confident and aware'.



Glasgow by Bike is a community sustained initiative which helps people overcome their fears of cycling on the road through gradual and tailored paces of confidence building.

The initiative will be launched by a promotional campaign that captures the attention of everyday people. Those wanting to join the initiative can do so by downloading the Glasgow by Bike app. The app allows members to learn the basics of cycling on the road and tailors the journey to becoming ‘Confident and Aware’ based on each user’s experience and motivations to cycle.


Members will then be offered a choice of kit to start practicising their skills. The Companion Kit utilises the sense of sound and vision with an assistive tool that mounts to the handlebars of a bike. It provides navigation and tunable prompts with the use of simplified visuals and audio beeps. The Companion+ Kit also includes haptic clips that pulsate the handlebars to let the user know when they need to turn without having to glance down.


With this kit, those ‘Interested but Concerned’ can attend social city rides and learn from the ‘Confident and Aware’. By attending a number of city rides, the user can build confidence to begin cycling alone. The app lets the user choose how to get from A to B based on their level of confidence. Those just starting out can choose ‘beginner’ routes which avoid the more challenging areas and use more cycling infrastructure, but are less direct. Over time, the user may build confidence to progress to the more ‘challenging’ routes, using busier roads and one-way systems, for example. By asking members to reflect on everyday journeys on the mobile app, a map of constantly evolving data is created to provide information on route planning.



Have a look over some of the key stages of the project in the images below, or read through the project process journal for full detailed documentation of the project from start to finish.


Supporting documents

Supporting documents

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© Jake Cohen 2021. All rights reserved.

© Jake Cohen 2019. All rights reserved.

© Jake Cohen 2019.
All rights reserved.

© Jake Cohen 2019. All rights reserved.

© Jake Cohen 2021.
All rights reserved.