This is a great post from As Easy As Riding A Bike.
When you are in conflict with someone it makes it easier to be unreasonable, cruel, abusive, or just dismissive of them if you dehumanize them.
Is that why sometimes, when people in cars get angry enough because they have to alter their trajectory a bit so as not to not to cause you harm attempt to communicate their feelings, they usually include, “You Cyclists!”? As in, not an individiual, but a generic annoyance? It’s worth considering – especially because we are all prone to doing it. “How can we make drivers see cyclists as individual people?”, is about as easy as answering the question, “How can we make everybody all just get along?”. I believe each person (or at the very least, most people) who has behaved in this way (everyone), if questioned whilst calm and out of context, would know quite well and be able to articulate that, objectively, people are individuals and should be addressed and considered as such. Perhaps even that they have some inherent value, but that may be asking a little much for some to accept. Having just watched 12 Years A Slave, I am reminded that people are able and willing to convince themselves to do horrifying things. Excuses are readily available. Now, most people are well and truely on the other end of that spectrum, but nevertheless we all sit on it somewhere. In little tiny ways, every day, we see the other as less than us. Cars do it to cyclists. Cyclists do it to pedestrians. Rich people to poor people, etc, etc, etc. Really, this is an enourmous topic, one which great minds througout history have wrestled with over and over again. With that said… I’ll be getting something up shortly that considers some perspectives on these things as it applies to road users sharing the same space. As for this space, keep an eye on it.