They’re not ‘cyclists’, they’re ‘people on bicycles’

If we stopped referring to people who ride bicycles as “cyclists,” would people who drive cars stop being jerks to them?

Let Australia be our guide.

According to the Daily Mirror, researchers at Queensland University of Technology and Monash University found 55 per cent of the nearly 500 non-cyclists surveyed rated cyclists as “not completely human.” Maybe that explains a lot.

This is the work of Professor Narelle Haworth, the Director of the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety, as part of her ongong research on vulnerable road users and Dr. Alexa Delbosc, at Monash University.

“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,” Haworth told the paper. “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.”

“When you don’t think someone is ‘fully’ human, it’s easier to justify hatred or aggression towards them. This can set up an escalating cycle of resentment,” Monash tells Cycling Weekly. “Ultimately, we want to understand this process so we can do a better job at putting a human face to people who ride bikes, so that hopefully we can help put a stop to the abuse.”

Their research is behind a paywall, so it’s difficult to see how much science is behind it or how much of it is guesswork based on relatively few participants, several of whom might be unsalvageable to begin with.