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Saturday, March 24 2018 @ 07:27 PM UTC

New study looks at attitudes of drivers toward cyclists, and it ain't pretty

Biking ElsewhereBy Lloyd Alter, Treehugger

It appears that cars are like guns: Instruments of control and vehicles of intimidation.

The more legitimate a system is perceived to be, the greater in-group favoritism and out-group discrimination that dominant users will display (Pratto et al., 2006). Our automobile system, although less than a century old, is inarguably the dominant mode. The automobile is considered the default mode in much of the Western world, as evidenced by mode share and even the term “alternative transportation” applied to bicycling and walking. One distinguishing characteristic of social dominance is that “the degree of lethality . . . is often orders of magnitude greater” by the dominant group toward the subordinate group (Pratto et al., 2006, p. 3). As discussed earlier, the roadway environment has a high degree of lethality: automobiles are a leading cause of preventable death.

The greater the degree of lethality, the more popular they are, which probably explains why everyone is driving big pickup trucks, which are the AR-15s of the road. They are vehicles of intimidation. It's no wonder that cyclists and pedestrians feel threatened by cars; the system is designed to do exactly that.

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