Why are we not surprised? Just yesterday, I was almost run over by a person driving in the bike lane to be able to turn right faster. I don't think he even noticed me, but if he had, he might have thought I was a lower life form. According to a new study, the dehumanization of cyclists predicts self-reported aggressive behavior towards them, most car drivers think that people on bikes are not really people.
In the study, researchers led by Alexa Delbosc of the Monash Institute for Transport Studies in Victoria, Australia, showed the classic evolution from ape to human and another that showed the imagined evolution from cockroach to human. Delbosc tells Phys.org that "the insect-human scale was designed for the study because of the many informal insults against cyclists that liken them to 'cockroaches' or 'mosquitoes'".
Delbosc noted that 17 percent of drivers admitted that they used their car to “deliberately block a bicyclist, 11 percent had deliberately driven their car near a bicyclist, and 9 percent had used their car to injure a bicyclist. ”.
I understand that drivers may not view people who ride bikes as real people, instead wondering about the 30 percent of cyclists who self-identify as "not fully human." Delbosc explains:
If cyclists feel dehumanized by other road users, they are more likely to act against motorists and join a self-fulfilling prophecy that further encourages dehumanization against them.
Study co-author Narelle Haworth picks up on a point we've tried to make at TreeHugger before: that we should stop using the depersonalized words "pedestrian" and "cyclist." I have written that saying 'people who ride bikes' is more awkward compared to just saying cyclist, but it is important to never lose sight of who they are, people. Haworth tells Cycling Weekly:
“Among people who travel, among people who do not travel, there are still people who think that cyclists are not fully human. Let's talk about people who ride bicycles instead of cyclists because that is the first step to get rid of this dehumanization. "
It's an interesting study that's getting a lot of attention because it's a catchy idea, but I doubt anyone who tries to ride a bike or is actually surprised in most cities. They are always treated as members of a lesser species.