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Cyclists wearing safety gear seen as ‘lower than fully human’, study finds | Science | News


Cyclists who wear safety gear like high-vis vests or helmets are seen by others as being “lower than fully human”.

That is the conclusion of researchers from Australia who conducted a survey of 560 people in an effort to uncover among the potential obstacles to wider bicycle adoption in cities.

The brand new research was inspired by a 2019 study, also from Australia, that found that half of automotive drivers thought that cyclists weren’t completely human.

The authors of that work had gone on to suggest that this dehumanisation may very well be one in all the aspects behind deliberate acts of aggression perpetrated against cyclists on the road.

Some respondents in the brand new survey clearly agreed, noting a correlation between the quantity of abuse they received from other road users with the outfits they wore.

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The study was undertaken by urban planning expert Dr Mark Limb of the Queensland University of Technology and psychologist Dr Sarah Collyer of Adelaide’s Flinders University.

The duo hypothesised that folks wearing bicycle helmets could be viewed as less human than those without headgear, given the reduced visibility of eyes and hair.

Nevertheless, they found that high-visibility vests actually topped the list of dehumanising safety gear, with helmets in second place.

Specifically, photos of cyclists wearing hi-vis vests were 3.7 times more prone to be described as “less human” than the cyclists without — while helmet wearers were 2.5 times more prone to be dehumanised.

Moreover, Dr Limb said: “We also asked people their overall view of cyclists and located that 30 percent of respondents considered cyclists lower than fully human.”

A few of the survey respondents who were themselves cyclists used the survey to share their very own experiences with safety and appearance.

The researchers explained: “Some noted that they felt they’re treated in a different way by road users depending on the apparel they wear, with full Lycra cycling gear attracting more abuse than casual wear.

“One female respondent also said she deliberately left her long hair out when she cycled as she thought it helped her avoid among the abuse her male counterparts received.”

The researchers added: “More research is required on this area, because it raises more questions.

“For instance, is overt safety gear like vest and Lycra seen as particularly dehumanising because some people associate that form of attire with cyclists who ride in groups?”

Those formations, the experts noted: “Can sometimes be unpopular with other road users.

“Also, many risk-taking studies have found that men usually tend to take risks than women, and more prone to look down on risk avoidance strategies.

“We found that men were more likely than women to think that some style of safety gear made cyclists look lower than human.

“So, is that this partly because men are more dismissive usually of risk avoidance?”

Dr Collyer said that the study’s findings raise questions on how we view other people in society who don high-vis gear.

She explained: “Our study found that each men and women wearing ‘high-vis’ safety wear were consistently rated ‘less human’.

“Does this mean people see road work crews, for instance, as ‘less human‘?

“And in that case, what does that mean for his or her safety?”

Dr Collyer concluded: “If the findings from our study cause people to take into consideration how we view cyclists and other road users, that will probably be final result.

“What goes through our mind once we see a cyclist once we are driving?

“Do we predict of them as someone identical to us who’s just attempting to get to work or home, or can we view them in a different way?”

The total findings of the study were published within the journal Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour.

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