Cyclists Offend the Moral Order: the Psychology of Why Car Drivers Hate Cyclists

#Opinion

Fri, Feb 22nd, 2013 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

On the BBC's Neurohacks, Tom Stafford looks at why drivers hate cyclists so much. He doesn't think it's just an issue of them being nuisances on the road drivers have to avoid. If anything, he believes cyclists "trigger a deep-seated rage within us by breaking the moral order of the road."

Driving is a very moral activity -- there are rules of the road, both legal and informal, and there are good and bad drivers. The whole intricate dance of the rush-hour junction only works because people know the rules and by-and-large follow them: keeping in lane; indicating properly; first her turn, now mine, now yours. Then along come cyclists, innocently following what they see are the rules of the road, but doing things that drivers aren't allowed to: overtaking queues of cars, moving at well below the speed limit or undertaking on the inside.

You could argue that driving is like so much of social life, it's a game of coordination where we have to rely on each other to do the right thing. And like all games, there's an incentive to cheat. If everyone else is taking their turn, you can jump the queue. If everyone else is paying their taxes you can dodge them, and you'll still get all the benefits of roads and police.

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