New research finds danger on our roads is driven by dehumanisation
A study of driver attitudes towards cyclists has found nearly one in five drivers have deliberately blocked a cyclist, 11 per cent have deliberately driven too close to a cyclist, and nearly one in ten have used their car to cut a cyclist off on the road.
The findings have prompted Bicycle Queensland to repeat its call for a Road Safety and Healthy Travel Commission in Queensland.
Bicycle Queensland CEO, Anne Savage, said the findings were not surprising.
“None of us are surprised that self-reported driver behaviours have revealed deliberate aggression against those of us who prefer cycling to driving.
“It’s deeply concerning that many of these drivers – more than half of those surveyed – regard us as not completely human.
“This study confirms the types of behaviours we see every day on Queensland’s roads, where cyclists may be targeted by drivers for no other reason than their decision to be a part of the cycling community.”
The study involved 442 respondents in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, testing theories of dehumanisation.
“Every act of road rage, impatience, and soft hostility is a slap in the face of community standards.
“Whether it’s cutting someone off or giving them the finger – you can cost a person their life and shatter the dreams of their friends and family members.”
Ms Savage said a Road Safety and Healthy Travel Commission is urgently needed in Queensland.
“Last year 247 Queenslanders died on our roads. They were our mothers, fathers, football coaches, teachers, and members of the cycling community.
“The number injured and seriously hurt is equally unacceptable – for every single fatality, over 24 people are hospitalised because of road crashes.
“All of these deaths and injuries were preventable. The strange thing is, few of us believe that until it happens to someone we know.
“We have called for an independent Commission of experts to enable greater coordination of efforts to combat road rage and other risks through innovation and engagement – bringing together key players to share knowledge and find solutions.
“Importantly, it would drive a wholly collaborative approach across the public, private, and community sectors, harnessing existing knowledge to deliver improved road safety outcomes for all Queenslanders.
“All deaths and injuries on Queensland roads are avoidable – we must do more to ensure that nobody in our community has to suffer the unbearable grief and impairment caused by road tragedies.”
Ms Savage said an immediate funding increase for cycling infrastructure and promotion was also necessary.
Queensland’s Transport and Roads Investment Program (2018-19 to 2021-22) pledges about $21.7B for roads + transport infrastructure compared to $240.1M for cycling infrastructure, planning, and programs.
“The State Government’s current four-year ‘investment’ in cycling is just one per cent of overall road spending on a much-needed transport solution that could save us billions into the future.
“Queensland has the power and the people to achieve a congestion-free transport network, but we need to lift funding beyond one per cent – increasing it to five, eight, and ten per cent in step with other integrated transport strategies.
“Cycling is one of the easy keys to creating fitter, happier, and better-connected communities.
“The most recent National Cycling Participation Survey found a resounding majority of Queenslanders want to see stronger investment in bikeways (67%), and better connections between bike paths and schools, shops, pools, and parks.
“59 per cent of Queenslanders have also called for more on-road bike lanes.
“The proposed Commission would spearhead efforts to create an affordable, efficient, and congestion-free transport system, while helping to reduce Queensland’s road toll and promote a healthy and safe transport future for all Queenslanders.
“Every life lost or limited through this culture of dehumanisation and aggression is a preventable tragedy,” Ms Savage said.
“We must find new ways of approaching road safety, bringing different authorities and experts to one table under the guidance of a dedicated Commission, to realise the goal of zero deaths and aggression on our roads.”
Read the full study here.