Australian study finds that some drivers look at cyclists as ‘not human’

By ahmadzulizwan, 31 July 2019

It’s a strange thing to ask you, but do you – as a car driver – think that cyclists are human? Even writing that feels super strange, but that’s exactly what a study by researchers at Monash University, QUT’s Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety, and a Professor at the University of Melbourne’s School of Psychological Science found – that more than half of car drivers thinks that cyclists are not completely human. This dehumanisation of bike riders explains some acts of aggression towards them on the road.

The research, titled “Dehumanization of cyclists predicts self-reported aggressive behaviour toward them: A pilot study” is a study which involved 442 respondents from several states in Australia (Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland). It notes that cyclists have been conceptualised as a minority group and a target of negative behaviour.


However, it also notes that if drivers can put a human face to cyclists, it could lead to fewer aggression directed at cyclists.

It appears that aggression towards cyclists have become quite a problem, with words like ‘cockroaches on wheels’, ‘mozzies’, ‘road toads’, and ‘pedalphiles’ becoming popular insults to describe them. It may sound like light ribbing to some, but this anger towards cyclists have resulted in at least one fatality. In 2017, Ben Smith was found to be guilty of manslaughter after knocking 62-year old Steven Jarvie off his bicycle just outside Sydney. Ben was sentenced to jail for eight years. The real kicker is that Ben was riding a motorcycle when he did his heinous act, and even bragging about it afterwards.

On a much milder scale of aggression, 20 per cent of respondents admitted to intentionally blocking a cyclist using their car; 14 per cent had deliberately driven close to cyclists, and 14 per cent had cut off a cyclist’s path using their vehicle.