Why Drivers Don’t Understand Cyclists

As an average cyclist I often find it confusing when drivers get their hate on for sustainable transit. Anyone who knows anything about the environment or living in an urban centre would acknowledge that bicycle infrastructure is important and creates a more vibrant city than car-dominated streets.

Yet, car drivers still demand more space and want to take away space from cyclists, what’s up with that? According to a columnist at Slate it has to do with the fact that car drivers can’t conceptualize riding a bicycle as a form of everyday transportation.

Moreover, bicycling as a primary means of transportation—I’m not talking about occasional weekend riders here—is a foreign concept to many drivers, making them more sensitive to perceived differences between themselves and cyclists. People do this all the time, making false connections between distinguishing characteristics like geography, race, and religion and people’s qualities as human beings. Sometimes it is benign (“Mormons are really polite”), sometimes less so (“Republicans hate poor people”). But in this case, it’s a one-way street: Though most Americans don’t ride bikes, bikers are less likely to stereotype drivers because most of us also drive. The “otherness” of cyclists makes them stand out, and that helps drivers cement their negative conclusions. This is also why sentiments like “taxi drivers are awful” and “Jersey drivers are terrible” are common, but you don’t often hear someone say “all drivers suck.” People don’t like lumping themselves into whatever group they are making negative conclusions about, so we subconsciously seek out a distinguishing characteristic first.

Now that we know what one of the problems is in North America it would be great to see more public awareness programs like car drivers for Jarvis.

Read more at Slate.

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