Liberals Call for Word 'Cyclist' to Be Banned: 'It Dehumanizes Them'
Demands for 'offensive' word to be replaced with term 'people who ride bikes'
Liberals are calling for the word "cyclist" to be banned over claims the "offensive" term equates to hate speech as it "dehumanizes" bicycle riders, according to reports.
A new Australian study has determined that "dehumanizing" people by referring to them as "cyclists" leads to deliberate acts of aggression toward them from other road users.
Researchers at Queensland University of Technology and Monash University, who conducted the study, found there was a link between dehumanization of cyclists and their negative treatment on the road.
QUT professor Narelle Haworth says the law must be changed to ban the use of the word "cyclist" and have it replaced with the term "people who ride bikes."
Haworth says the study, which questioned 442 people in Victoria, NSW and Queensland, found that 55 percent of non-cyclists rated cyclists as "not completely human."
According to Prof. Haworth, participants in the study admitted they were deliberately aggressive toward "people who ride bikes" because they were referred to as "cyclists."
According to the Daily Mail, Professor Haworth, who is also the Director of the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety- Queensland, said it was important for drivers to view cyclists as real people.
"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," Professor Haworth told Daily Mail Australia.
"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.
"Infrastructure is paramount. The best thing would be not to have to share the road," she said.
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 "dehumanization 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 behavior towards cyclists, with some admitting they had shouted and thrown things at cyclists.