Helmets make cyclists look less human and may raise the risk of aggressive drivers, according to a study.
A study carried out in Australia looked into the impact of cycle safety wear on a driver’s view on a cyclist , and found that those with helmets were perceived as less human than those without.
The survey, which tested the responses of more than 563, found that those cyclists wearing safety vests were seen as the least human.
The research which was carried out by Mark Limb of Queensland University of Technology and Sarah Collyer of Flinders University, also concluded that the dehumanisation of these cyclists could lead to more aggressive behaviour from drivers. May ‘increase levels of hostility’
It said: “Dehumanisation has been found to be predictive of hostile and aggressive behaviour , our finding highlights a potential conflict around the perception and utility of safety gear such as high-visibility vests.
It added: “Although designed for safety, they may inadvertently increase levels of hostility and aggression towards this group of vulnerable road users.”
Of the 563 people surveyed, 30 per cent considered cyclists in general as “less than fully human”. The researchers then showed respondents images of cyclists with and without safety gear, and asked choice questions on which they considered less human.The results were put through a model to assess the most likely response to these images. ‘Presence of gear leads to different psychological response’ The report concluded: “We found images of cyclists wearing helmets or safety vests to have a higher probability […]