Experts have called for the word ‘cyclist’ to be banned because they claim it ‘dehumanises’ people who ride bikes.
Researchers at Queensland University of Technology and Monash University, made the findings in a new study which links the dehumanisation of cyclists and deliberate acts of aggression directed towards them.
Professor Narelle Haworth said the study, which questioned 442 people in Victoria, NSW and Queensland, found 55% of non-cyclists rated cyclists as ‘not completely human’.
Prof Haworth believes scrapping the term in favour of ‘people who ride bikes’ could reduce the number of acts of aggression involving cyclists.
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia she said: “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.
“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.”
Professor Haworth said banning the word ‘cyclists’ wasn’t the only solution to change the negative attitudes towards them.
She added: “Infrastructure is paramount. The best thing would be not to have to share the road.”
The study found that one in five drivers deliberately blocked cyclists on roads, while one in ten admitted to using their car to cut off a cyclist.
Participants across different states in Australia completed an online survey for the study.
A ‘dehumanisation trait scale’ was part of the survey, which included statements such as ‘I feel like cyclists are mechanic’ and ‘I feel like cyclists aren’t sophisticated’.
For each statement, participants were given an option to agree, disagree or remain neutral on a scale.
Participants were also asked about their behaviour towards cyclists, with some admitting they had shouted and thrown things at cyclists.