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Do certain types of clothing make cyclists seem 'less human' to motorists?

A study aims to find out whether driver attitudes change depending on cyclist's attire ...

An urban planner has launched a survey to find out if certain types of clothing can make cyclists seem 'less human'. 

Dr Mark Limb, from Brisbane, was inspired by a 2019 study that found more than half of car drivers in Australia think cyclists are 'not completely human'.

The research suggested that this dehumanisation was one of the main triggers for deliberate acts of aggression towards riders. 

Dr Limb is an urban planning lecturer with Queensland University of Technology's School of Architecture and Built Environment whose research areas include land use planning and active transport, such as cycling.

He is also a cyclist and hopes his pilot study will provide more insights into the ever so slightly fragile relationship between bike riders and drivers.

> road.cc’s Best Cycling Clothing of the Year 2020/21

He said: “Previous research has already established that many drivers see cyclists as less than human.

"It’s also shown a link between belief and behaviour – the more someone thought a cyclist was less than human, the more likely they were to do something dangerous, like driving too close to them.

"What I’m investigating is why people have these dehumanising attitudes towards cyclists – my main question is: Is it because of the way they look?”

Dr Limb needs at least 400 people to complete the online survey, which will show them pairs of photos of cyclists wearing different sorts of attire, Mirage News report.

“They will be presented with random pairs of photographs and be asked to select the photo that they instinctively feel looks ‘less human’,” he said.

“The survey can be completed by anyone aged 18 and over who is a resident of Australia.”

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43 comments

Avatar
Argos74 | 2 years ago
0 likes

Anecdote is not data, but I just finished an hour of fasted ride in lycra shorts, hi vis hoodie and wooly hat, doing laps on the dual carriageway, notched up four "jesuswtf" close (less than 2 feet) passes.

Doing the same road in jeans and a hoodie on my daily commute, very rarely get any close passes. Sod it, I'm training in jeans from now on, keeping the lycra for the weekends.

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Neil Lawson | 2 years ago
6 likes

Yep it's one of the reasons I don't wear a helmet. 

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David9694 | 2 years ago
1 like

He should run his experiment and then repeat it, recruiting only Audi and BMW drivers.  

90% of communication is non-verbal, something like that they say on the management courses. I'm sure there is something in this idea.  

I think we're back to the othering of cyclists because so many people don't seem to  have a cyclist as any sort of influence in their lives. 

 

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Eton Rifle replied to David9694 | 2 years ago
3 likes

I think this "90% of communication is non-verbal" is an urban myth. We'd hardly have needed to develop language if it was true.

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ktache replied to Eton Rifle | 2 years ago
0 likes

Them phone things would never have caught on...

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David9694 replied to ktache | 2 years ago
2 likes

You do have to be in the same room for the non-verbal thing to work, to be fair.  

A couple of times on Saturday's walk, on a woodland trail and at a viewing point, we had parents apologising to us about their kids being noisy - I think the non-verbal communication (aka impression) we give inadvertently suggests we don't like children and / or we only want peace and tranquility.  No need folks, it's nice to see them mucking about with sticks like kids should, or taking in the view and working out where home was. If they were being ill-tempered over-indulged little horrors, that would be a different matter...

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Philh68 | 2 years ago
5 likes

I've said this elsewhere on the same subject. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't. There's an expectation that you dress to make yourself obvious to motorists, in doing so you are obviously a cyclist and hated for it.

The only way I see it changing is if utility cycling returns (in Australia) in sufficient numbers for it to be seen as a normal transport option, not just something for athletes and fringe dwelling freaks. There are some signs that government are looking to do that, but it will take time to turn around decades of car centric planning.

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eburtthebike replied to Philh68 | 2 years ago
4 likes
Philh68 wrote:

There are some signs that government are looking to do that, but it will take time to turn around decades of car centric planning.

And the removal of the helmet law.

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cbrndc | 2 years ago
1 like

Does the clothing drivers wear make them less human? No; because they are all Neanderthal low-lifes whatever they wear.

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Awavey | 2 years ago
2 likes

well my anectdotal evidence is it does, when Im dressed as sporty cyclist vs utility cyclist, and Ive observed it on the road too when I got close passed but the very next cyclist along the same car gave plenty of room and the real only difference is the clothes we were wearing. I get far more aggro on the road from drivers dressed as sporty cyclist, than I do dressed as utility cyclist.

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IanMK replied to Lance ꜱtrongarm | 2 years ago
2 likes

I think this is the point. The result is only likely to show drivers bigotted opinions and will have nothing to do with actual road safety.
Years ago (before beards were trendy) there was research that suggested that people that shaved every morning lived longer. This was true but had nothing to do with the act of shaving. Those that do shave every morning are more likely to be white collar workers, men that look after themselves etc...

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giff77 replied to Awavey | 2 years ago
3 likes
Awavey wrote:

well my anectdotal evidence is it does, when Im dressed as sporty cyclist vs utility cyclist, and Ive observed it on the road too when I got close passed but the very next cyclist along the same car gave plenty of room and the real only difference is the clothes we were wearing. I get far more aggro on the road from drivers dressed as sporty cyclist, than I do dressed as utility cyclist.

There is a study knocking about that motorists tend to drive closer to those wearing 'the kit' when overtaking due to a perception that they know what they're doing and are less likely to cycle erratically than those who wear regular clothing. I've experienced this myself when I've been out and received a close pass yet the guy in front in duds is given a wide hearth!  

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Kronsteen replied to giff77 | 2 years ago
12 likes

A kind gesture (assuming it fitted their room) but smokeless fuel is harder to get these days. 

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ktache replied to Kronsteen | 2 years ago
1 like

Good spot, sir.  Took a moment but it made me smile.

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giff77 replied to Kronsteen | 2 years ago
1 like
Kronsteen wrote:

A kind gesture (assuming it fitted their room) but smokeless fuel is harder to get these days. 
 

very good!  That's what I get for having fat fingers, auto correct and rushing out to meet up with cycling pal and not checking!!!

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HLaB replied to Awavey | 2 years ago
0 likes

I find it the other way round. My thoughts is that my relative speed to traffic is closer when I am on a lighter bike and wearing sportier clothes. I doubt Neanderthals see beyond bike though 🤔

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Hirsute | 2 years ago
5 likes

I'm interested to know what drivers think of runners who wear technical clothing, have very specfic footwear and all manner of tech watches. Are they ridiculed or run over?

And middle aged walkers or MIMWIGs.

Then there are tennis players, cricketers, footballers, rugby players with various attire.

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HoarseMann replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
3 likes
hirsute wrote:

I'm interested to know what drivers think of runners who wear technical clothing, have very specfic footwear and all manner of tech watches. Are they ridiculed or run over?

Had one lady on a local FB forum giving the 'ole 'why do they wear lycra' bashing, but on her profile plenty of gym selfies wearing - you guessed it - lycra.

At least you can point to the weight and aero advantages with cycling, in the gym, there's less reason for it!

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ktache replied to HoarseMann | 2 years ago
2 likes

Chafing.

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Simon E replied to HoarseMann | 2 years ago
5 likes
HoarseMann wrote:

Had one lady on a local FB forum giving the 'ole 'why do they wear lycra' bashing, but on her profile plenty of gym selfies wearing - you guessed it - lycra.

The hypocrisy is hard to understand.

But in the end my choice of clothing while on a bike, whether it's to commute to work or go for a recreational ride, is absolutely no-one else's f**king business!

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HarrogateSpa replied to Lance ꜱtrongarm | 2 years ago
12 likes

The Prime Minister is not brilliant because he is a liar.

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eburtthebike replied to HarrogateSpa | 2 years ago
8 likes
HarrogateSpa wrote:

The Prime Minister is not brilliant because he is a liar.

Not to mention; hypocrite, cheat and coward.  Brilliant?  Outshone by a candle.

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Dogless replied to eburtthebike | 2 years ago
8 likes

Don't forget racist and bigamist!

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Captain Badger replied to Dogless | 2 years ago
7 likes
Dogless wrote:

Don't forget racist and bigamist!

Incompetent, don't leave out just plain old incompetence

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alchemilla replied to Lance ꜱtrongarm | 2 years ago
1 like

Nigel Garrage "With shops etc reopening I'm also worried about a drop off in cycling - I certainly saw fewer cyclists than I was expecting on my afternoon ride today in BEAUTIFUL weather."

Same here, where was everybody today?

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Hirsute replied to alchemilla | 2 years ago
2 likes

In the shops/ down the pub - do keep up !!!

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David9694 replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
1 like

We pass a national trust beauty spot on one of our walks.  Dull weekend in February : car park rammed. Pleasant day in April : three cars.  The average home is warmer, more comfortable and has more entertainment ( "we had to make us own when I were a lad" )  yet we all have to be out somewhere. 

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Captain Badger replied to Lance ꜱtrongarm | 2 years ago
1 like
Nigel Garrage wrote:

Well the study will no doubt find a correlation between cycling clothing and, er, not being a human (otherwise why bother running it).

But the reality (amazingly) is that drivers are aware that people who ride bikes are 100% human. Drivers get pissed off by cyclists who break the law with seemingly no repercussions, just like the vice-versa anger you see here on the near misses by terrible driving.

Having more role models on TV cycling regularly would be cool - our brilliant prime minister flies the flag for cyclists, but also having people like say The Only Way is Essex team riding bikes would probably do wonders for the image.

With shops etc reopening I'm also worried about a drop off in cycling - I certainly saw fewer cyclists than I was expecting on my afternoon ride today in BEAUTIFUL weather.

The key is to have a critical mass of people cycling, and the best way to address that is through the tax system, and by making cycling safer and more attractive

A fantastic post on the whole. The bit about the PM was the only fly in the cream that let it down

Keep up the great effort!

Avatar
The _Kaner replied to Lance ꜱtrongarm | 2 years ago
2 likes
Quote:

... Keir Starner was him running people over while off to his "local tailor's shop" (suits you Sir). People should recognise the PM for his positive image in cycling and active travel, and his environmental credentials generally.

SUIT you Sir.

Avatar
Captain Badger replied to Lance ꜱtrongarm | 2 years ago
0 likes
Nigel Garrage wrote:
Captain Badger wrote:
Nigel Garrage wrote:

Well the study will no doubt find a correlation between cycling clothing and, er, not being a human (otherwise why bother running it).

But the reality (amazingly) is that drivers are aware that people who ride bikes are 100% human. Drivers get pissed off by cyclists who break the law with seemingly no repercussions, just like the vice-versa anger you see here on the near misses by terrible driving.

Having more role models on TV cycling regularly would be cool - our brilliant prime minister flies the flag for cyclists, but also having people like say The Only Way is Essex team riding bikes would probably do wonders for the image.

With shops etc reopening I'm also worried about a drop off in cycling - I certainly saw fewer cyclists than I was expecting on my afternoon ride today in BEAUTIFUL weather.

The key is to have a critical mass of people cycling, and the best way to address that is through the tax system, and by making cycling safer and more attractive

A fantastic post on the whole. The bit about the PM was the only fly in the cream that let it down

Keep up the great effort!

The bit about the PM was a fine piece of writing. The 'other side', by contrast, simply don't present a good front when it comes to cycling... ever seen Sadiq Khan on a bike? The only mention I've ever heard of Keir Starner was him running people over while off to his "local tailor's shop" (suits you Sir).

People should recognise the PM for his positive image in cycling and active travel, and his environmental credentials generally.

Dude, you and I ride bikes cos we're awesome.
Johnson just rides a bike. He's actually a twunt and his occasional pedaling doesn't give him a free pass to be the corrupt shyster that he is.

Yes I've have seen Kahn riding a bike.

Starmer who?

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