cyclists less human

Study reveals helmet-wearing cyclists seen as ‘less human’

A recent study from Queensland University of Technology on the effect of safety attire on perceptions of cyclists found that individuals wearing helmets or safety vests while cycling are viewed as “less human” compared to those without.

The researchers discovered that negative attitudes towards cyclists serve as a barrier to increasing cycling participation, with 30% of those surveyed considering cyclists with safety gear as subhuman.

Ironically, the findings highlighted that those utilising safety gear, such as high-visibility vests may inadvertently increase levels of hostility towards them, despite being designed for safety purposes.

Founder and Managing Director of ALA Insurance, who specialise in GAP and cycle insurance, Simon England has expressed his concern, said: “As a passionate advocate for cycling and road safety, each individual, regardless of their mode of transportation or choice of gear, deserves to be recognised and treated equally. Cyclists, just like pedestrians and motorists, are all integral parts of the diverse network on our roads; they are parents, siblings, friends, and colleagues, and they have a right to navigate safely.

“As cautious as we may be, mistakes can sometimes occur. Whether your cycling pursuits involve leisurely rides, daily commuting, or exploring the outdoors, always ensure you’re wearing the appropriate protective equipment to reduce the risk of injury in the case of an accident. Bikes and gear are expensive too, considering cycle insurance can safeguard your equipment and offer peace of mind when it comes to unforeseen damages.”

ALA Insurance have provided some tips on how to cycle responsibly and improve your safety on the roads:

Prioritise personal safety 

By wearing a helmet, you not only protect yourself from potential head injuries but also demonstrate your commitment to personal safety. Regardless of road users’ perception of cyclists, personal safety must be a priority at all times. Always stay responsible and alert, especially on roads without cycling infrastructure and learn the best routes to take whenever you commute to ensure personal safety when commuting.

Promote visibility and awareness

Increase your visibility as a cyclist by opting for lighter clothing, using lights and reflectors on your bicycle, and choosing routes with dedicated cycling infrastructure whenever possible. This helps draw attention to your presence and reinforces the idea that cyclists are legitimate road users deserving respect and consideration.

Communicate effectively

Enhance communication on the road by using clear hand signals, making eye contact with drivers, and employing assertive yet respectful behaviour. By actively communicating your intentions and engaging with others on the road, you humanise yourself and challenge the negative stereotypes associated with cyclists. 

Follow traffic rules

Adhering to all traffic laws, including obeying traffic signals, using proper hand signals, and yielding the right of way when necessary, not only shows that you respect other road users but helps improve the flow of traffic on the roads. By demonstrating responsible and predictable behaviour, you can reduce disruption and make it easier for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to understand your intentions. 

Carry out regular maintenance

Regular maintenance of your bike and equipment not only ensures optimal performance but also portrays a sense of responsibility as a cyclist. By taking care of your bike, the chance of an accident is significantly reduced as you’re constantly making sure your equipment is in full working order. In the unfortunate case of an accident, investing in cycle insurance covers your bike against accidental damage, providing financial protection and peace of mind.

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