Author Topic: "Experts: Stop Using the Word ‘Cyclist’ Because It ‘Dehumanises’ Bike Riders"  (Read 494 times)

Andre Jute

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"Experts: Stop Using the Word ‘Cyclist’ Because It ‘Dehumanises’ Bike Riders"
https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/03/experts-cyclist-word-dehumanizes-bike-riders/

...and my family want to know why I'm rolling on the carpet in my study, laughing like a banshee.

in4

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We are a shower of first-world, virtue-signalling snowflakes aren't we! To be an ist about anything is now considered istist and a re-education camp surely awaits us all especially those who are, by their own admission , bansheeist  :)

Andre Jute

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...a re-education camp surely awaits us all especially those who are, by their own admission , bansheeist  :)

Fortunately I live in Ireland, where a banshee is viewed as a sort of more amusing and less destructive leprechaun.

But, seriously for just a moment, if this could be taken at face value --
QUT professor Narelle Haworth said that the study found that 55 percent of non-cyclist respondents actually said that they consider cyclists to be “not completely human.”
-- it would be a noteworthy matter. Except I wouldn't take anything from a "professor" at a jumped-up redbrick tech as gospel. This woman in effect claims 55% of people admitted on the record that they consider cyclists to be less than human. It's BS. It would be BS, but likely better presented, even if it came out of my own Australian universities, Melbourne and Adelaide. And she wants to fix it with some minor fiddling with the descriptor: "people who ride bikes". If that verbosity ever becomes compulsory Politically Correct usage, that would be a better reason for 55% (!) of non-cyclists to hate cyclists.

in4

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I think you are right, Andre. There is a serious point to be made probably around the issues of inclusivity, exclusivity and possibly climate change.


mickeg

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I think I had heard a few times the phrase National Review in reference to an information source that some use to obtain their political opinions.  I had never seen it until now.  But I can still say that I have not read anything in it longer than a few phrases.

In USA, the term biker is often used for motorcyclists.  To distinguish between muscle powered bike riders and motor driven bike riders, I usually avoid ambiguity and use the terms bicyclist and motorcyclist.  Before I retired, some of the things that I wrote were read by thousands of scientists and engineers, I learned extremely quickly to work extremely hard to avoid any ambiguities in my word choices.




Mike Ayling

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But, seriously for just a moment, if this could be taken at face value --
QUT professor Narelle Haworth said that the study found that 55 percent of non-cyclist respondents actually said that they consider cyclists to be “not completely human.”
-- it would be a noteworthy matter. Except I wouldn't take anything from a "professor" at a jumped-up redbrick tech as gospel. This woman in effect claims 55% of people admitted on the record that they consider cyclists to be less than human. It's BS. It would be BS, but likely better presented, even if it came out of my own Australian universities, Melbourne and Adelaide. And she wants to fix it with some minor fiddling with the descriptor: "people who ride bikes". If that verbosity ever becomes compulsory Politically Correct usage, that would be a better reason for 55% (!) of non-cyclists to hate cyclists.

Well QUT might be "a jumped up redbrick tech" but the article stated that it was a joint effort with Monash, an institution of some prestige in Melbourne although Melbourne Uni graduates may dispute this!

Mike

John Saxby

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Being as how it's a drizzly Saturday morning south of Brissie (said the itinerant Canajan, showing off his 'Strayan slang) and I'm not riding my bike, I thought I'd have a look at this, not least 'cos it might say something about drivers' behaviour in the neighbourhood. Then I saw the titles "National Review" and "Daily Mail", and thought, "I don't need this aggravation..." But then I thought some more, and told myself that Forumistas are a Dangerously Fair-Minded and Even-Tempered lot, so how irritatin' can it be?

Wellll, at one level, it's all a bit silly:  I'd rather be, and be thought of as, a cyclist rather than a PoaB (or a HoaB/Human on a Bike, as the species-aware media phrase has it) or even a biblical Moab (thank you, Utah).

We know that far too many drivers have a serious impediment in their right ankle, one which prevents them from lifting their foot off the loud pedal. Still, it's a bit gross to hear that more than half the respondents consider us less than (="other than"?) human...But then, one can take solace from a South African wit, who once remarked that he didn't mind sharing 98% of his DNA with the great apes--what bothered him was sharing 41% of it with bananas.  What would be interesting would be to know the obverse: what percentage of cyclists see drivers in what light?  (I reserve most of my Bad Thoughts About Drivers for youngish males in Ottawa who buy high-end German sedans and SUVs, and think that having the money to buy these vehicles entitles them to drive at unsafe speeds in urban settings. Having bought the hardware, they clearly didn't install the software, as my experience in German cities tells me that it is possible to drive these things at reasonable speeds. Maybe their German counterparts don't have the Canajan Ankle Impediment?)

The point, surely, implicit but not spelled out in the journalist's article (why? where was the editor? do those media even have editors?), is that The Hegemony of The Car is a bloody dangerous thing, especially to more vulnerable road users ... but that would require Naming The Problem, and I doubt that either the DM or NR really wants to go there.

Let me add my wee anecdotal evidence of drivers' behaviour in this neighbourhood, to end on a positive note:  I've found GC drivers pretty benign in their driving habits, esp by comparison with their Ottawa counterparts. The GC cycling infrastructure is more extensive and better than that in my hometown, it shd be noted, and here and there I stay off the arterial roads with heavy traffic.  But, I've found that drivers generally respect the boundaries of painted bike lanes, and especially in the more rural back roads, don't whoosh me. So long as they behave like that, I don't much care what they think. To do my part, I do wear hi-viz colours, with flashing lights front & rear, and a wee Cdn flag decal that says, "Er, sorry, mate, I'd like this piece of tarmac, pls."

Cheers, all.

Andre Jute

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...youngish males in Ottawa who buy high-end German sedans and SUVs, and think that having the money to buy these vehicles entitles them to drive at unsafe speeds in urban settings.

I ran into another form of this once. Not thirty yards from my house a fellow in a small car cut me off at the roundabout -- after I made eye contact with him. Predictably, shortly we arrived at the tailback from the T-junction ahead. I stopped beside his door and enquired politely through his open sunroof, "Are you malicious or merely stupid?" His instant response was, "I pay my road tax!" Leaving aside that his reflex rejoinder is an admission that he maliciously cut me off, I explained the facts of life to him. "See, sonny, you have to be licensed and tested and inspected every year in order to use the roads, because you are dangerous. Me, I ride my bicycle without any licensing, free as the birds, because the legislators know I'm not as anti-social as you are."

But that one is a very rare exception in thirty years on these roads. There are some bad and careless and stupid drivers, of course, and some of the immigrants from behind what used to be the Iron Curtain or from dirt-poor African and Asian countries drive as if it is their first car because it is their first car. But in general, where I live people share the small roads thoughtfully, and in nearby Cork city even the bus drivers approve of the intermittent and occasional cyclists taking advantage of the bicycle share scheme (I know because I asked the bus drivers).

I just don't believe that in the QUT and Monash catchment areas they would in a small study* find even one person who would say in public that he considers cyclists "not completely human", never mind more than half the respondents. Common sense tells us that those questions were either incompetently structured or deliberately phrased to elicit some pre-determined newsworthy response, as is far too often the case in bicycle and much other "research", or the replies were "weighted"  out of all relationship to reality. (It's virtually impossible, for instance, to find an unbiased helmet study. The one report I trust isn't from a sample but a simple head count of incidents and hospital admissions of cyclists-- in short, the full universe -- in New York over a period of seven years; you can't argue with a head count!)

*They would need a very expensive study of a structured sample around 3000 respondents, and I'd want to see their questions and their instructions to the interviewers. 

B cereus

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I'm sure some motorist's do see us as less than human.

Through a sense of entitlement many motorists resent having to share “their” roads with  cyclists. A small percentage resort to aggressive and intimidating behaviour towards us, and a prerequisite of such behaviour is a dehumanising of the cyclist in the eyes of the aggressor. It's much easier to justify aggression and focus hatred if you don't see the victim as fully human.


Such people view cyclists as an outclass, and just as with any other outclass, it's useful to have a convenient label to name them. We just happen to be cyclists, so yes, in countries where such behaviour is common, the word cyclist does start to become pejorative. Its often reinforced by sections of the media who never miss an opportunity to demonise cyclists; the mugger who makes his escape on a bicycle for instance, will be described not as a mugger but as a cyclist who mugged. A subtle difference maybe but it all adds fuel to the fire.

What's needed is not a change of name but a change of attitudes.