With hundreds of comments and replies across our story and social media posts, yesterday’s article about the new research from Queensland University of Technology and Flinders University in Australia — showing that cyclists wearing helmets or high-visibility clothing are dehumanised more than those without — has certainly got people talking.
For those who have not yet seen the results, in summary, 30 per cent of 563 respondents said they considered cyclists as less than fully human. Charming. Those wearing helmets were perceived as less human compared to those without, while cyclists with safety vests and no helmets were perceived as least human.
Notably, the researchers also concluded that dehumanisation related more to visible safety gear than obstruction of hair or eyes, and while we are on the topic of caveats, the study was undertaken in Australia where mandatory helmet laws exist, perhaps also worth considering when looking at the results.
But is anybody surprised?
One road.cc reader said that in their experience they get “much more room riding my mountain bike” compared with on their road bike while wearing the same clothing and helmet. Any clever academic people fancy doing a study on bicycle type?
On the same topic, another road.cc reader replied: “I think you could be on to something there. Motorists probably are more triggered by ‘does he think he’s in the Tour de France’ than by ‘regular Joe on a bike like what I once rode as a kid’.”
Over on Facebook, Jungo Merry told us: “I’ve also noticed a difference depending on what you wear. A lot less respect shown to me when riding in road kit/bike compared to riding with touring kit/bike/luggage.”
Isaac River Stevens said: “I intentionally just wear my normal everyday clothes when I ride to work and back. Drivers need to see that people on bikes are just that — normal people… on a bike.”
Tim Holman reckons “the question should be, how to humanise cycling. Start writing things like this on our Lycra? ‘Father of two. Be nice?'”
It kind of fits. In Denmark cyclists (with little/no safety kit) are seen as normal people riding a bike. And have a superb safety record.
— David Williams (@Greenchutes) June 4, 2023
If only we had some of that enviable Danish cycling infrastructure too…
Over on Twitter, regular Near Miss of the Day contributor from Ireland, Righttobikeit, who often uploads footage of dangerous driving to social media said the study backed up something he has “always said… hi-vis makes me a target”.
Another cyclist added: “Interesting. I dont wear hi-vis (apart from a
PassPixi sign) and ditched the helmet for a cap. I don’t get that many bad passes or any abuse. I wonder if they do humanise and make me more relatable to others.”
An account called Makecyclingsafeagain said the researchers’ findings were “not a big surprise based on my own experiences”.
But what do you think? Do you notice much of a difference in the way other road users treat you when wearing cycling kit versus pootling to the shops in your civvies? Would the study make you think twice about what you wear on the bike? Let us know in the comments…