Professors suggest avoiding the word 'cyclist' because it 'dehumanises people who ride bikes'


Esteemed Pedelecer
Feb 2, 2008
Road safety and psychology professors are calling for people to avoid using the word “cyclist” after a study concluded the word dehumanises people who ride bikes and may put them at increased risk of road aggression.

The study, conducted by researchers at Queensland University of Technology and the University of Melbourne, Australia, found a link between cyclists and deliberate acts of aggression from drivers.

According to the researchers, cyclists have been conceptualised as being “not completely human” and a minority group by non-cyclists, making them more likely to be targets of deliberate aggression.

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 to cyclists and non-cyclists.

To rate perception, researchers had respondents use a graph depicting evolution from ape to man as well as one that showed the stages of evolution from cockroach to human.

On both scales, 55 per cent of non-cyclists and 30 per cent of cyclists rated cyclists as “not completely human”.

The study also found deliberate aggression is not an uncommon occurrence towards cyclists, with 17 per cent of participants saying they had used their vehicle to deliberately block a cyclist and 11 per cent admitting they had deliberately driven close to a cyclist.

Nine per cent of respondents revealed they had used their car to cut off a cyclist.

Lead author Dr Alexa Delbosc, senior lecturer in the Institute of Transport Studies at Monash University, said the findings show “when you don’t think someone is ‘fully’ human, it’s easier to justify hatred or aggression towards them,” which can set up an “escalating cycle of resentment”.

“If cyclists feel dehumanised by other road users, they may be more likely to act out against motorists, feeding into a self-fulfilling prophecy that further fuels dehumanisation against them,” Dr Delbosc said.

To combat this dangerous attitude of dehumanisation towards cyclists, co-author and QUT’s Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety (CARRS-Q) director Narelle Haworth said the word cyclist should be avoided in favour of an identifier such as “people who ride bikes” - which may humanise bike-riders and reduce aggression.


Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 4, 2016
In the UK cyclists dehumanise themselves by the the fact that most cycling is for sporting purposes and seems to require the wearing of silly clothes made from lycra, wee plastic hats, and snake eye glasses.

Nobody dresses like that to actually go somewhere and other road users with journeys to make realise that and have no tolerance for being impeded and vent their anger in the ways shown in the article

I'm sure if they tried the same study in the Netherlands they would find no need to call "de fietsers" anything other than "de fietsers".
  • Agree
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