“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.”
In the wake of a new study released last week by two Australian universities, which investigated public attitudes toward people who ride bikes, researchers are claiming the term, “cyclist,” is dehumanizing.
The study, which was conducted by the Queensland University of Technology and Monash University, found that 55% of non-cyclists polled indicated they consider cyclists to be “not completely human.”
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Participants also admitted to shouting and throwing items at cyclists, while 1 in 5 say they have blocked cyclists on the road while driving. Another 10% admitted to cutting cyclists off on the road.
Co-author of the study, Narelle Haworth, said the word cyclist itself is “offensive,” suggesting instead that people should use the phrase “people who ride bikes.”
“There is still people who think that cyclists aren’t fully humane. The dehumanization scale is associated with the self-reporting of direct aggression,” Haworth said in an interview.
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“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 said. “We need to spread the idea that those people could be any of us. There is need to grow a culture of mutual respect for people on bikes.”
Haworth pointed out that non-cyclists attitudes were “dangerous”.
“Using your car to deliberately block a cyclist, using your car to deliberately cut off a cyclist, throwing an object at a cyclist – these acts of direct aggression are dangerous,” she said.
The study comes as the effort to police what some deem to be offensive speech gains traction in some political circles. Many argue that offensive speech should be banned, while others say protections for such speech are important to maintaining a healthy democracy.
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