The factors shaping car drivers’ attitudes towards cyclist and their impact on behaviour
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Cycling for transportation has multiple benefits to both individuals and societies. However, in many countries, cycling rates are very low. One major deterrent is hostile or aggressive behaviours directed towards cyclists. Past research has established that negative attitudes towards cyclist are a major driver of aggressive behaviour. However, the attitudinal roots that motivate these negative attitudes are currently not well understood. This study investigates to what extent negative attitudes towards cyclists are rooted in a sense of attachment to cars, and environmental attitudes. Furthermore, the study examines whether the distinctiveness of group-membership of cyclists, as signalled by cycling attire, influences the link between attitudes and aggressive behaviours directed at cyclists. An online survey of 308 car drivers measured automobility and environmental attitudes, attitudes towards cyclist, and aggressive behaviour addressed at two groups of cyclists (lycra-clad or casually dressed cyclists). Hierarchical regression analyses showed that automobility attitudes, but not environmental attitudes, were associated with negative car driver attitudes towards cyclists. A significant link between negative attitudes towards cyclists and aggressive behaviour addressed at cyclists was not moderated by the type of cyclist shown. These findings provide a more refined understanding of the basis in which negative attitudes towards cyclists are rooted and how they affect driver behaviour. This research may inform campaigns and initiatives aimed at changing attitudes towards cyclists.
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