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More Than Half Of Drivers Don't See Cyclists As 'Human', Study Claims

A new Australian study has shed light on why some people are aggressive towards cyclists on the roads -- and it might be the harshest insult yet. 

The survey of more than 400 people across the country found more than half of those who don't ride a bike consider cyclists as "less than fully human".

Researchers from Monash University and the Queensland University of Technology's Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety (CARRS-Q) asked participants how they ranked cyclists on a scale of "humanness".

While dehumanisation is typically studied in relation to attitudes towards racial or ethnic groups, Professor Narelle Hawoth said it could shed light on aggressive behaviours towards cyclists, conceptualised as a "minority group".

Image: AAP.

"If you don't see other people as fully human, you're less likely to treat them in a way you want to be treated yourself," Howard told 10 News First. 

"You're more likely to be aggressive towards them and you’re more likely to not show them respect." 

Participants were handed either an image of the evolution of ape to man, or an adapted image showing the stages of evolution from cockroach to human.

Lead author Dr Alexa Delbosc, from Monash University, said many informal slurs against cyclists compared them to "cockroaches" or "mosquitoes".

On both scales, 55 percent of non-cyclists and 30 percent of cyclists themselves rated cyclists as not completely human.

READ MORE: "Cycling In Peak Hour Should Be Banned. That's The Only Info You Need."

Haworth said the results were proof the problem of dehumanisation on the roads was not just a case of car driver versus cyclist.

"Among people who ride, among people who don’t ride, there is still people who think that cyclists aren’t fully human," she said.

One in 10 participants admitted they'd deliberately driven too close to a cyclist, while around one in five said they'd used their car to block a cyclist.

Image: Getty

Haworth wants to see a change in "the way we talk" about cyclists.

"I think we need to stop talking about 'cyclists' and we need to start talking about 'people who ride bicycles'," she said.

"We are all people, and all of us as people need to share the roads together." 

Cycling Queensland CEO Sean Muir called on "openness and compassion" out on the roads ahead of the launch of the Brisbane Cycling Festival on Thursday.

"We just need to slow down, and take a breath," he said.

Featured image: Getty