Steve Burgess writes in 24 Hours to describe new sociological studies.  These reveal that masses of ordinary people can, and do, slip between previously immutable and convenient pigeon-holes with apparent ease.

Journalists everywhere have operated on an editorial imperative that assigns each person to a lifetime in one and only one transportation mode — viciously hostile to the other modes.  This, according to scientists, is not the case.


Previously thought to be divided into three sub-species — motorist, cyclist, and pedestrian — of humans, according to the new research, may be capable of shifting from one group to another.

The implications for urban transport and world peace could be profound. . . .

. . .  If subsequent research confirms the findings, it may lead to new approaches whereby motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians realize that, rather than mutually antagonistic groups, they are all part of a civil society in which the interests of one need not threaten the interests of another. The consequences of such a development are as yet unquantifiable, but researchers are optimistic about a decrease in yelling.

I must say that the article’s headline exemplifies the old paradigm — divide people by transportation mode and play up any real or imagined hostility.