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Are cyclists even human? Study asks why drivers have loathing for lycra

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The lycra, the helmets, the whole dress code of cyclists may be a reason why there is so much aggression towards them.

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Dr Mark Limb, from QUT’s School of Architecture and Built Environments, has started a national survey based on findings in 2019 from Monash University that cyclists were seen by many as less than human, which had led to aggressive behaviors towards them.

The Monash study found that public and humorous references to violence against cyclists were not uncommon and a significant minority of cyclists report harassment and aggression.

“We hypothesize that these hostile attitudes and behaviors are caused, in part, by the dehumanization of cyclists among some individuals,” the study found.

“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.”

The QUT survey from Limb is asking whether it’s the clothes cyclists wear.

Limb said it had been shown that there was a link between belief and behavior.

“The more someone thought a cyclist was less than human, the more likely they would do something dangerous, like driving too close to them,” he said.

“What I am investigating is why people have these dehumanising attitudes towards cyclists. My main question is: is it because of the way they look?

He said he considered Brisbane to be a good place for cycling, if you could find a safe route.

He said the safety aspect was “highly locational” and not everyone had access to good, convenient and safe paths.

Cycling has taken off since the pandemic hit as commuters looked for alternatives to public transport.

The Brisbane City Council has started introducing separated lanes in the CBD to make cycling safer.

 

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