More than half of drivers dehumanize cyclists, fueling road rage

Road rage involving cyclists is both deadly and incredibly common. Attitudes between people who drive cars and people who ride bicycles varies, but can often prove negative, particularly among drivers who may become frustrated when forced to drive slowly in order to accommodate someone on a bike. A new study out of Australia sheds light on these attitudes, finding that more than half of drivers are prone to dehumanizing cyclists.

Road rage is the term used to describe driving actions fueled by anger, which may include deliberate attempts to sabotage or in some way harm another driver. These attitudes and actions aren't limited to just people behind the wheel, however, and can also be directed at anyone else on the road, including pedestrians and cyclists.

Though a growing number of cities have installed dedicated bicycle lanes, there are still many occasions when cars and bicycles must cross paths; in some cities, cyclists and drivers share the same lane, increasing both the safety risk and feelings of frustration.

According to a study from Australian researchers, 55-percent of non-cyclists were found to dehumanize cyclists to some degree. From the pool of 442 participants, the study found that 17-percent of non-cyclists reported having at some point used their car to purposely block a cyclists, while 11-percent had deliberately driven close to someone on a bike and 9-percent had cut off a cyclist using their vehicle on purpose.

The dehumanization wasn't limited to just drivers, however, with the researchers also finding that 30-percent of cyclists in the study viewed other cyclists as less than fully human. As well, cyclists who feel dehumanized may feed into the actions targeted at them by deliberately antagonizing drivers.