Are drivers ‘dehumanizing’ bicycle riders around the world?

Some worrying research has emerged about the way that drivers are consciously being careless, or worse, about the safety of bicyclists.

One of our trainees on a ‘silver’ advanced driving course at Advanced Drivers of America had to brake to avoid colliding with this cyclist who, without either a signal or a “life saver” glance over his shoulder, whipped out into a live-traffic lane from the bicycle lane in order to pass the woman in black — not a good way to endear oneself to drivers! (Copyright image, 2018.)


Dehumanization of cyclists predicts self-reported aggressive behaviour toward them

Cycling provides many benefits to individuals and society, yet in many countries attitudes toward cyclists are largely negative. Public and humorous references to violence against cyclists are not uncommon and a significant minority of cyclists report harassment and aggression. We hypothesize that these hostile attitudes and behaviours are caused, in part, by the dehumanization of cyclists among some individuals. Dehumanization refers to any situation where people are seen or treated as if they are less than fully human. This paper presents a pilot study applying two validated dehumanization measures to a road user group for the first time. We found that the dehumanization measures were internally consistent, showed good discriminant validity (compared to general attitudes to cyclists) and were associated with self-reported aggression toward cyclists. The findings suggest that dehumanization 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.

For the full paper, go to Science Direct.


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Author: EddieWren

Eddie Wren is the CEO and Chief Instructor at Advanced Drivers of North America. His driver safety background is given at:

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