We Have to Change How We Talk About Drivers Hitting Cyclists

Joe Lindsey’s excellent op-ed for Outside Online is an absolute must read. Hostility toward cyclists seems to be rising. His ruminations on blame shifting really hits home, I’ve long compared attitudes and reporting surrounding drivers hitting cyclists to the way rape has historically been treated. “They should have been wearing a helmet” or “they shouldn’t have been riding on that road” sure sounds a lot like “she was wearing provocative clothing” and “she shouldn’t have been in that part of town alone.” Give it a read, share it.

The studies also looked at whether reports contained what the researchers called a counterfactual: a detail that subtly shifts blame, such as noting that  the victim “was not wearing a helmet” or “was wearing dark clothing.”  In the university group’s  study, 48 percent of the examined stories  included such a statement, which,  without important context, suggested the victim was at least partly at fault. “Dark clothing is irrelevant if the driver is distracted,” says Goddard, “and a helmet will not save you if the driver hits you at 60 miles per hour.”

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