Ban word 'cyclist' as it dehumanises bikes riders

Cyclists should instead be called “people who ride bikes” because the former term is dehumanising, experts have claimed.

An academic study in Australia found that there is a link between the dehumanisation of cyclists and acts of aggression they face from other road users.

Researchers said that cyclists have been conceptualised as a minority group and being “not completely human”, which they claim makes them likelier targets.

The study, published in Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, analysed the attitudes of 442 respondents in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland towards both cyclists and non-cyclists.

Respondents use a graph showing evolution from ape to man and one that showed the stages of evolution from cockroach to human as a way of judging their perception.

Just over half of non-cyclist respondents and 30 per cent of those who ride bikes rated cyclists as “not completely human,” the research published on ScienceDirect showed.

Nine per cent of respondents admitted they had used their car to cut off a cyclist, while one in five drivers said they had deliberately blocked them on roads.

The “dehumanisation trait scale” part of the survey included statements such as “I feel like cyclists aren't sophisticated” and “I feel like cyclists are mechanic”. For each, those participating were given an option to agree, disagree or remain neutral.

The study’s abstract read: “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.”