It may sound ridiculous but yes, this is an actual thing today – experts are calling for a ban on the word ‘cyclist.’ According to them, the term “dehumanizes” bike riders.
According to reports, the call is based on the study conducted by a team of researchers from Queensland University of Technology and Monash University. Apparently, the study “found there was a link between the dehumanization of cyclists and deliberate acts of aggression directed towards them on the road,” wrote the Daily Mail.
Narelle Haworth professor of QUT and Director of the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety- Queensland explained that the study questioned 442 individuals in Queensland and Victoria, New South Wales and they discovered that 55% of non-cyclists rated cyclists as “not completely human.” Furthermore, the study tells us that 1 in 5 drivers “deliberately blocked cyclists on roads, while 1 in 10 admitted to using their car to cut off a cyclist.”
Now Professor Haworth is advocating for the word ‘cyclist’ to be dropped for good and be replaced with ‘people who ride bikes.’
“If we used the term people on bikes, instead of cyclists, we’re giving a term that is more human-like and less like a species. We need to spread the idea that those people [cyclists] could be any of us. There is need to grow a culture of mutual respect for people on bikes.”
Aside from the word ban, Haworth also believes there’s more to be done to make the roads a safer place for bicycle riders.
“Infrastructure is paramount. The best thing would be not to have to share the road,” the professor pointed out.
Meanwhile, the abstract of the study reads:
“The findings suggest that dehumanisation is a concept that deserves further exploration in contexts where cyclists are a minority group. If we can put a human face to cyclists, we may improve attitudes and reduce aggression directed at on-road cyclists. This could result in a reduction in cyclist road trauma or an increase in public acceptance of cyclists as legitimate road users.”
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