Monday, July 30, 2012

When Spouses Worry About Cyclists

Ipswich, MA
I get a fair number of questions from readers - and, interestingly, only heterosexual men so far - asking for advice on how to deal with spouses worrying about them cycling. Some describe situations where wives implore them not to go on club rides, or are against them riding for transportation. Other stories are less dramatic, but nonetheless involve an overabundance of spousal distress that in turn makes the cyclist feel guilty. Doesn't my husband worry, they ask? What do I say to ease his mind? 

Of course my situation is different, in that my husband is himself a cyclist. His understanding of what riding a bicycle entails is based on reality and not on the negative portrayals of it in the media. Still he does worry about me at times, especially when I go off with riders whose speed and skills far exceed my own. He deals with his concerns by asking me questions and trying to gauge how prepared I am for the ride and how well I myself understand the risks. And I admit that I worry about him too. While he rides considerably fewer miles than I do, I would describe him as more of a risk-taker. If he is late coming home from work, I worry. 

It could be that this is the essence of spousal worry: Perceptions of risk. Do wives tend to perceive their husbands as risk-takers more so than the other way around? It would explain why I never hear from women complaining that their husbands worry too much. It could also be that, for whatever reason, female cyclists are more likely to have spouses who also ride bikes. 

Either way, unfortunately I am not certain what to suggest here. You could reason with your spouse using statistics, descriptions of how safe your route is and how careful you are - but when fears are irrational this does not always work. Attempts to get your spouse into cycling could do the trick, but could also backfire if they try it and find it frightening. Showing them entertaining materials (films, books, pictures, blogs?) that depict cycling as safe and fun could be a way to go, but how exactly this could be implemented is not clear to me. 

While we all want to be free to do as we like, we also don't want to drive our loved ones sick with concern for our safety. It would be good to hear from readers who've gone through this type of situation and resolved it successfully. 

55 comments:

  1. I really think the best way for a loved one to understand the risks, or lack thereof, is for them to do the trip themselves and to see how safe cycling really can be. This is not always possible I know, but it is the best way to see that cycling is not that dangerous. Also, it may be worthwhile mentioning that travelling by car is riskier, in terms of statistics. When people tell me to ride carefully, I thank them then tell them to drive carefully too.

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  2. "female cyclists are more likely to have spouses who also ride bikes" << very true, which I think the main reason. That said, my cyclist husband does worry about me riding home late at night alone. I usually text him before I head home so he'll know if something's wrong.

    And the reason women cyclists tend to couple with men cyclists? Female cyclists are very attractive to male cyclists who snatch them up as soon as they are available.

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  3. i find taking my "spouse" with, staying in her comfort zone, making it fun (a few pub stops, something more interesting from a "gatherer" perspective than a kind of "hunter" grinding up and down hills, no sexism implied) works, the snag is if one has very different fitness levels, but it can be good to rediscover relaxed cycling

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  4. Good topic. My wife worries about all the hours I spend on the road both commuting and riding with a club. But I worry about her driving her auto as if it were completely safe. I am pretty sure that driving is more dangerous than cycling; that is, a lot more people are hurt driving than cycling. Of course, only something like 1% or all trips in north America are taken by bicycle. And that is a problem. We have not reached 'critical mass', where motorists are as aware of our presence as that of other cars. Apparently the more cycling there is in a country or city, the safer it is. I have been riding for sixty years, no collisions with cars, only a very few falls. No serious injuries. But it could happen. We educate ourselves and make informed choices.

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    1. Vancouver: from the well researched secondary sources I've read, cycling is about as dangerous per unit time as riding in a car, and about twice as dangerous per unit distance. It is (IIRC) less dangerous than walking -- not to mention horribly risky activities like taking a bath, climbing a ladder and using a lawnmower. ER physicians have said that you are more likely to get a head injury in a car -- don't know if this compensates relative volumes.

      In other news: my ex probably hopes a truck will smoosh me. Just kidding; she's not so bad. When we were married she thought it was cool that I rode 16 miles across town on a fixie and would boast about this to the neighbors (who were nonplussed). (This was circa 1997, so I beat the fixed gear Apocalypse by a decade.)

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  5. My Mom and husband do worry about me when I'm cycling. I try to be as safe as possible, and aware of my surroundings. But I've had a few close calls. It didn't help to learn that a friend of my Mom died this weekend from head injuries while cycling. He had become separated from the other cyclists. They think a truck hit him with its rear view mirror, knocking his helmet off. The didn't find him until the next day. I purchased some mirrors for my bikes.

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  6. one could look up the frightening statistics on any and all of their activities (eating, sleeping) and then constantly in a kind but annoying way implore them to be careful.

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    1. @Don McMahan: Agreed.

      The worrying thing is creepy. I'm a reasonably cautious person, but obviously there will be things to worry about anyway. This is a fact of life.

      So I think think one tip is to tell the worry-warts to grow up and try to enjoy life. Live in the now. Consider studying buddhism.

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    2. @Don and Erik: Yours are voices of reason.

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  7. When my girlfriend and I lived together, I would always text her when I was heading out, this way if I wasn't home by a certain amount of time, she could raise the alarms. Now that I had to move for work and have a longer commuter (and she's 260 miles away), I wear a RoadID and hope for the best

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  8. There is always a safer route then the straight line. It takes a little exploring, but here in the Boston area we are lucky to have the choice of traffic free back roads. I commute from Dover to Belmont, 12 months a year. I have a 17 mile off road route that has me on car roads for only 2.5. The road route is 15 miles. Take the time to figure it out on a day off and after you have, it will become "Auto Pilot"
    As for the worry, Plan to get hit by a car and in your head rehearse your escape route. I have saved my self a number of times, watching for things to unfold. At any time it can happen. I have a friend in San Fran that at the moment of impact jumped and cleared the car. The bike was ruined, but he didn't have a scratch!
    Remember: There are two types of cyclists, The ones that have been hit and the ones that haven't been hit, Yet.

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  9. Back when I was still married, my wife never had an issue with my cycling. But one day when I made a comment about how it would be fun to own a motorcycle, I was informed in no uncertain terms that I would NOT be purchasing a motorcycle.

    I think your advice about explaining statistics, safety precautions, etc. is good. But I agree that it won't work with all types of people. At that point, I think the only thing to do is take your spouse's hands in yours, look her (or him) in the eyes, and explain that you love them so much that you would never do anything to jeopardize your own safety. Then ask them to just trust you on that point.

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  10. I am a woman whose husband worries, and I have to admit that his concerns are reasonable. There are certain rural roads in this part of Virginia that he doesn't like for me to ride alone. They are inhabited by gun clubs, the occasional Confederate flag, and I am a woman of color. Mobile phone coverage is spotty. These scenic pastoral rolling roads with gorgeous vistas are just too tempting to stay away from and to me they are worth the risk. A few weeks ago I was participating in an organized ride in the northern part of the state and had a horrible crash requiring a ride in an ambulance and head ct. My black eye is finally fading. My husband found coverage at work and drove three hours one way to bring me home from the E.R. To answer his question, no I had not learned my lesson. I was back on the bike in three days. It's just so worth it!

    Mona

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  11. Velouria, I guess you are biased. You not only have a cycling husband but also you are likely totally crazy about bicycles so your husband knows it is futile to argue with you.

    Here is some advice to all cycling husbands:

    1. Rule #1: give her MINIMUM information. Women love to over-analyze and read between the lines. The less she knows the better. Instead of saying: "Honey, I am going on a 30 mile ride, which involves riding through Mattapan (part of Boston where we have frequent shootings) and crossing a highway twice", say: "Honey, I am going on a nice bike ride. I will be back in 2 hours".
    When she then asks: "How was your bike ride?" your response should be: "Great. Nice and easy. I have seen this nice park. Maybe we could go for a walk there one day?". Never complain that the traffic was insane and drivers are nuts and a truck nearly smashed into you.

    2. "Attempts to get your spouse into cycling could do the trick"
    This will work if you manage to convince your wife to ride with you on streets, with regular car traffic AND if she likes it. As you can imagine - this is EXTREMELY difficult. You will likely end up with a frightened wife who will never want you to ride on city streets again. I wouldn't try it.
    If you decide to ride with her on some forest paths, bike paths, etc. - sure, this will work better but there is not much point in that as she can easily imagine that those routes are safe, without even putting her on a bike.

    3. Except dealing with cars and traffic, there is also the weather problem. Have you already heard: "Honey, I don't want you to ride your bike to work today. We are supposed to get thunderstorms"? Your answer should be (as mine is): "It doesn't rain now so I can ride. If it gets worse in the afternoon maybe you can pick me up?" (or "I can take the bus back home").

    4. Start it slowly. Don't ride to work every day. Try it maybe 2 days a week. Once she gets used to the idea and sees that you are all right and you have fun, you can try riding every day.

    5. Show her it is safe. If you are lucky to have a bike path around, tell here that this is where you go riding (even if it is only 10 miles out of your 50-mile long ride). Again - minimum information. She doesn't need to know how fast your were going or how many busy intersections you had to cross. Tell her you always stop on red (well, you should!) and you stay away from cars as much as you can.

    6. Find her something else she can be worried about.

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    1. This is the best advice so far.
      Life insurance is also a good idea. Eliminating at least one worry.

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    2. Maybe I'm also biased, but I truly don't understand how a relationship based on withholding information can function. I don't love hearing about the sketchy situations my man gets himself into, but I trust his abilities as a cyclist enough to know he'll get himself out of them with minimal injury. I'm sure one of us will end up in the hospital at some point (statistically it's more likely to be him), but as a previous commenter pointed out, eating and sleeping can also be dangerous if you think about it too much.

      I prefer trust and openness in my relationship, whether it's in cycling risks, major purchases, business decisions, what have you. The biggest advantage that I've found (besides not having to lie to your partner) is that when one of us truly is pushing the line of sanity, the other can step in and say "Babe, you're probably making a stupid choice here. I'd prefer if you didn't ride on the freeway, even though it is rush hour." Or, "Babe, I know that FabricMart is having a 35% off sale, but do you really think you'll use 10 yards of neon green silk?"

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    3. Trust and openness is not the same thing as sharing information that is going to upset the other person. It just isn't. If you really know your spouse you'll understand that not everything has to be shared, and a lot can be understood.

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  12. I'm a woman with a non-cycling (not even recreational) husband. This dynamic is probably peculiar to us but basically he knows that were he to challenge my cycling in any way, he'd get a visit from the statistics fairy. Also, he's seen the change in my personality and mood since I started riding, and I don't think he wants to see me go back to my old public-transportation ways just because of a little risk. The only cycling related friction we have is that he won't do it. :(

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  13. I am a 65 yr old man who has biked for years. The only time my wife worries is when its 100 degrees or hotter. Then she asks that i do not do the evening club rides. She worries more when I do martial arts and put the pads on and spar with younger guys. I enjoy your blog. Thanks.

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  14. Both my husband and I cycle, so while I worry, I feel like it's more along the lines of a healthy amount understanding about the potential dangers. I don't ever ask my husband not to go, but instead, call/text me when you arrive at work, and the same when you leaving. I just like to know everything went ok, and if he's going to be late, it might very well be explained by him leaving work late (hence the notification he's leaving).

    My husband doesn't worry about me in the same way, and I think in this situation is is also because I am less of a risk taker than he is. I'm less likely to fall off my bike, never race to beat a light, and slowly work my way into new skills. However, I will also communicate I've arrived, departing as a courtesy.

    I think the best way to help put a spouse at ease (and in a lot of cases get a spouse into their own kind of cycling) would be to go on leisurely paced rides, in areas of good representation as to what the cyclist rides. The non-cycling spouse need not have some fancy bike, a good working vintage bike that is perfect for short fun rides can be have very inexpensively. We started out with bike dates, on vintage road bikes, and that changed both of our outlooks. I originally wanted a vintage bike and only wanted to ride around the neighborhood, and the husband had no real desire to ride much at all, much less in "dangerous" traffic. After 1 date and 13 miles of riding, he wanted a real road bike, and wanted to begin commuting. I eventually decided I wanted a vintage 3 speed commuter, and a modern road bike for distance rides.

    Bike dates, transitioned into commuting, and that transitioned into riding more agressive modern machines, and plans for light touring with the local riding club. I don't begin to think this will work for everyone, but it will surely work for some. It's also a great, no pressure way to get a spouse- who doesn't cycle- involved to their own comfort level, and hopefully ease some fears about the level of safety of cycling with real knowledge and experience.

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  15. My fiance didn't seem to worry about me much after I assured her I'd be as safe as possible:

    1. Helmet. Regardless of individual biases, it made her feel better, so I wore it.
    2. High powered light.
    3. Stopping at lights and signs.

    After that, she didn't seem to mind.

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  16. Hmm....my wife has never had any of these concerns. She knows I'm careful and is aware of the benefits of cycling and socializing.

    Exactly what are the 'negative portrayals in the media' ?

    At least, with cell phones, it's much easier today to keep a loved one aware of whereabouts and troubles along the way. This was not always the case.

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  17. If media is powerful enough to make one worry, then I would find media which portrays the upside of cycling, whether for transportation or sport. There's plenty. If the spouse is a natural worrier...well, that's different and one would think that it's not cycling specific.

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  18. My husband, who doesn't bike, got involved with safety issues by mounting lights, bell, and pepper spray on my bike. He also occasionally comes home with very bright tech shirts for me. He knows I'm not a risk taker generally and his worry is outweighed by the fact that I enjoy riding so much. He worried much more when I was running.

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  19. @bostonbybike: wow.

    My husband doesn't ride. I ride for transportation. He asks me to check in periodically or to let him know when I get home after a late ride, or one on a route I don't go on often. I'm happy to know he's got my back in case I have an issue.

    I never tell him I'm going somewhere I'm not actually going though. O.o

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  20. This is a big can of worms.

    I've gone to the hospital enough to justify my wife's worry. I take risks...the other way to look at it is my bike handling is better in perfect conditions so what is perceived as high-risk by others is just normal riding for me.

    OTOH I make sure all systems are go for her: bike, head, focus. Since her spatial cognizance of closing and opening opportunities isn't as honed at speed as mine I make sure she recognizes the situation before the blasting through the gap.

    PS -- my hospital visits are directly related to treating cycling as a sport.

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  21. If the marriage is bad, insurance takes care of a lot of it.

    Fortunately my marriage is good. She was born and raised in Japan and raced professionally. Best chase I ever gave...I won! (she let me?)

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  22. Is it a men vs. women issue? This made me laugh b/c I can relate. Scroll down to the Men vs. Women, In a Nutshell :)

    http://gocryemokid.memebase.com/page/34/

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  23. this is not about spouses worrying - but it has to be said anyway - i appreciate this blog - as i was hammering along home in pouring rain in the chiltern hills late last night (having unwisely decided to go out for a long ride late, and seeing a spectacular sunset, and some deer)it all went with quite a rush, and the whole feeling of almost subconsciousness and energy cycling gives - which would have felt much more isolated and without menaing in teh absence of being able to know its shared with others

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  24. We ride matching Nuovo Record so there's never a problem.

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  25. Oddly, my wife doesn't seem to worry at all. She doesn't go so far as to suggest I play in traffic - but she is actually encouraging and happy when I go.

    I'm not very good looking, and as an MD with kids have made sure that I am well insured......

    But I think the real reason that she's encouraging is that she is an athlete. As a black belt instructor and triathlete - she has a pretty rational understanding of risks. Although not foolish, she understands that some low level of risk is inevitable to many human activities that bring us joy.

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  26. My husband and I both bike and probably worry about each other equally. When Bob is training for a tri, I ask him to check in with me periodically by text and let me know his approximate location in the event he has an accident or other event in an isolated location. We are both pretty safety conscious and our commute bikes are outfitted with mirrors, bells and good lighting. Bob urges me to wear a helmet (I resist) and I encourage him to wear a high visibility jacket or pannier on his bike (he generally complies). The rest involves having a little trust in one another's common sense but suspicion of that of the average driver.

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  27. I spend enough time bouncing around the globe in various odd-spots for work so my bicycle rides through the Sussex countryside are the least of my wife's worries.

    On the other hand, if she goes out for dinner with her friends I never go to bed before I know that she's safely back ---

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  28. Living is a dangerous occupation but many wife just don't get that.

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  29. My wife is a worrier. My health is not as good as it used to be, and she worries about everything I do. I wear road id when I go out, and that helps some, but sometimes when she tells me not to ride because of heat, bad weather, crazy traffic, etc., I just tell her I had to go. It helps my mood so much, and my physical health so much that she really tries to understand. I hate to worry her, but I do get tired of putting my life on hold due to perceived risk. By the way, I am not a risk taker, I am very aware of the dangers out there. I drove a semi for almost thirty years. Yes there is risk, but I do not feel that the risk is out of line if (we) ride in a safe and predictable manner.

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  30. I'm a woman who cycles as my default mode of transportation married to a woman who didn't cycle at all until recently. I'm not sure exactly how much she used to worry about me(some, but since I'd been cycling for years before I even met her I think she didn't want to say anything out of a desire to avoid Trying To Change Me, which is Bad For Relationships) but since I've gotten her to come out with me occasionally, she's gotten a lot more specific; no worry at all if I'm 100% on bike paths the whole way (like my usual route to the grocery store) and rather a lot more worry than she used to if she knows my route goes along certain streets (e.g. Mass Ave anywhere in Cambridge) Which in turn is probably good, because when I modify my behavior to worry her less (finding alternate, safer routes; taking complex intersections as a pedestrian rather than riding through) I'm actually improving my safety.

    Oddly enough, my father the avid recreational cyclist is a lot less rational (in my opinion) about what's safe and what isn't. I can chalk up a certain amount of worry to parental protectiveness, but I think there's also a profound mismatch of expectations- if I was riding a road bike like his at the speeds he rides out on long quiet suburban roads, but in the urban settings I ride in, my loved ones would be right to worry!


    (One other thing my wife worries about as far as my safety goes is when I ride in certain neighborhoods, especially after dark- but she'd worry even more if I was on foot or planning on taking the bus, so I don't think that one counts!)

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  31. My OH and I both cycle to work (me 5 miles, him 10 miles). We've taken to emailing each other when we reach the office, just a 'hey, I made it' email, so if we don't hear from each other we'd know something was up.

    We usually have a little catch up on things we've seen en route (or complain about a$$hat drivers if it's a less good ride), and it's made that early morning worry into a nice time to check in.

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  32. The best thing to do is make sure you guys both have Life insurance policies and trust each other. Then you can breathe a sigh of relief cause if the other person bites the dust at least you'll have at least a million dollars.

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  33. Thanks. This is worthy of a listing in "Posts of Interest" column. As for my non-cycling wife, she's come to understand that I take precautions and ride carefully. More importantly, I think she realizes how much I enjoy cycling.

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  34. Amazed how much life insurance came up in this post.

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  35. I think that in our case, if there was worry on his part, not much was said. We both understand that either of us could go at any moment, and things can happen, and it doesn't have to involve cycling. He was not at cyclist at all when I took it back up (had never in his life ever even sat on a bicycle!), and so he did mention his concerns and pretty much left it at that, except for a brief period of insisting that I wear a helmet. But I'm a stubborn and disobedient wife ;) , so that didn't last long. Now that he has taken it up, his views have changed and nothing more than a "love you, be safe" is ever said before I head out. The same words that we always say whenever either of us leave the house, no matter what means we go by.

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  36. If you don't want your spouse to worry about you, get into a nasty argument as you're about to go on a ride.

    Seriously, I think the best thing to do is to have your spouse involved, if possible. I never turned my former spouse into a committed cyclist, but we rode together without grumbling. Later, I was in a DP with someone who really enjoyed cycling but was not as strong as I was. In both of those situations, I used to take my partners on social rides that included coffee or lunch in an interesting place, or that included some other interest we shared. As an example, the DP liked to go to gardens, so we took rides to various parks, museums and mansions that had particularly nice ones, as well as to the New York and Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. And then we'd have lunch in a Vietnamese, Caribbean or some other ethnic restaurant.

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  37. Though the exact comparison depends on both your own age/health and route that you ride, it is generally much more dangerous not to ride, than to ride. Past a certain age the risk of a cardiovascular crash far exceeds the risk of a bicycle crash.

    There are several things that help; if you worry, buy life insurance (note that if it is offered, accidental death and dismemberment is far cheaper per dollar of coverage -- that should tell you something about risk right there). Don't forget long-term disability, just in case; though again, you are more likely to be done in by a heart attack or stroke.

    I use daytime running lights with a dynamo hub; they're bright, they seem to help. I use (very) fat tires so they can survive potholes, hop curbs in a pinch if I don't like the road, and traverse slots and cracks without falling in. Experience helps; not only can I recognize stupidity well before it occurs, I can also ride no-hands through 3 potholes in a row -- with my hands on the bars, I'm pretty damn stable.

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  38. I do worry about my husband because he does go off on long rides and has had a few accidents. I worry more about drivers than him getting up to no good and he insists that he has mellowed out from before I met him.
    I've always biked, he's always biked, and all my few other boyfriends have been bike riders too.
    It's my mom that worries 2000 miles away! When she comes to visit and sees what my commute is, she gets all dramatic and worries.
    But it's nothing really. I do feel a bit bad for all the men who are into biking and bikes, but married to women who don't bike, don't get it etc.. They moan on bikeforums, try find bikes that their wives will ride, try and hide how many bikes they have in the basement... For me, cycling is vital to my life, couldn't imagine having a boyfriend with a car(except for the brief period in my life where I did have a car...), so I think I would have been hard pressed to find a partner not into it. Maybe for the older folks women just weren't into cycling?

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  39. I worry about the people who worry. You can get ulcers you know.

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  40. I worry about Shawn on tour, and he texts me at least once a day when he's on tour alone, which I appreciate, and whenever I get around to touring alone I'll do the same.

    Shawn probably worries more about me than I do about him, and with unfortunately good reason: I am a klutz and have occasional trouble with being aware of my surroundings. This tends to be more true when I'm cycling with someone than when I'm alone, but of course Shawn only sees me ride when we're together.

    But he doesn't make an issue of it. None of that "oh god please be careful" stuff, which I admit I've said to him before a tour.

    I do sometimes let him know when I'm leaving a party, especially if I've been drinking a little or the party is across town.

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  41. Good topic. My wife constantly tells me she hates it when I ride on the road instead of the bike path. So on lunchtime rides I generally stick to nearby extensive bike paths out of Valley Forge Park and on weekends I opt mostly for club rides where I know there will be at least a few other riders. This seems to help assuage her fears but not a whole lot, especially not for the club rides.

    Sometimes we do event rides; my wife and kids will do a short ride while I do a longer ride, and then I'm the one who worries. Not so much about safety but more about what might happen in the event of a mechanical failure. Generally I can fix anything and once I even improvised by tying a loose Wald basket support leg on my daughter's bike with a reed stalk. Other than me, none of the family can fix anything, not even my son despite my best efforts to teach him, and it panics me a little to think of what might happen if I'm not there to fix things that could go wrong.

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  42. If you want to complicate this question further simply add a child and a tandem. My wife who is a casual rider at best(although an intrepid runner willing to run roads I prefer to avoid on 2 wheels) is sort of, uh, anxious when I go out with my 14 year old daughter.

    We were planning to do the 25 mile loop of a local century this past Saturday on a borrowed tandem but a seemingly endless parade of forgotten commitments, chores and other complications kept popping up till said Daughter threw up her hands and decided to give it a pass. The evening before we had gone for a short shakedown ride and though she claimed it was just a coincidence we observed mom trailing us a block behind for part of the ride. She was "only on the way to the store and happened to see you up ahead for a bit", but it was a mile past the store on the other side of the neighborhood...

    Can't really blame her though, all the accounts of my children's near death experiences so far all begin with "My Dad and I were..."

    Spindizzy

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  43. I wouldn't have thought to ask you this kind of question. I did think of asking your opinion on the best way through Davis Square for a new commuter (this was my suggestion) but the timing was short.

    I think we all have to take one's spouse's concerns seriously if they are at all realistic. I can do 5AM rides with a light and head out for 60 miles on my own but multiple day tours by myself seem to be over the top. I could do it with a friend or a group but alone seems to be over the top. Why? Well, history might be telling. A few years ago I skied into Zealand Hut (gmap-pedometer link) at night and wasn't forthcoming about my intention to do so - though I never felt unsafe and did the same ski with a friend a few years back. There were flurries and I was alone and no one really checks to see if you make it. So it seems I need to prove that I don't do dumb things and maybe a solo overnight tour will be in the cards.

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  44. Statistically, cycling is nearly twice as safe as driving a car. The lifetime risk of dying on a bicycle is about 1 in 140, while the lifetime risk of dying in a car is about 1 in 75. So, if anyone should be worried, it's the cyclist who has a spouse who drives a car.

    People tend to be overconfident when it comes to things they're familiar with, while they tend to believe unfamiliar things are unsafe.

    Of course, if your significant other is constantly getting into crashes on his/her bike, then there is indeed something to worry about, and it might be a good idea to get him or her involved in a League of American Bicyclists Smart Cycling course. Similarly, if a motorist is wrapping his car around lamp posts every few thousand miles, a refresher driving course might be in order.

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    1. The data I've seen say that per unit time, cycling is as safe, while by unit distance it is twice as dangerous. What is your source?

      Does this lifetime risk of dying take into account the relative numbers of cyclists compared to that of motorists, or is it across the general population? (In which case it doesn't mean much.)

      I'd love to know that I am twice as safe riding than driving, but I am at this point doubtful.

      (And what is my statistical source, for that matter? Can't find it on this computer, but I know I saw it! I did, I did!) Will find and report on demand. But you can trust me ....

      Delete
  45. It is definitely a problem that I would love an answer for. My cycling brother just got hit last night and suffered a broken hip, punctured lung and broken ribs. Now my wife is not wanting me to ride at all this weekend. I can't let fears dictate what I do. If we did that we wouldn't drive cars or fly airplanes. The list could go on and on.

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  46. My wife used to worry until I bought a "cadillac" disability insurance policy that will pay me $3,600 per month tax free until age 65 if I am disabled and a life insurance policy that will pay her $250,000 tax free if I die. I always wear my helmet, my yellow jacket, and my bike lights at night. Now we BOTH worry less.

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  47. I'm a little late to the game here, but wanted to throw my two cents in. My husband and I enjoyed very light recreational riding together about 5 years ago, and when I wanted to start bike commuting to work last year (10 miles each way) in Florida, it took a bit of convincing to get him not worry. He worried primarily about interaction with cars, as well as me breaking down in a bad neighborhood.

    I started going on longer recreational rides with my husband, which got him more comfortable with riding, and I started performing a bulk of the bike maintenance in our household. Eventually, I started commuting to work with a friend who lives nearby and works near my office. One day, my friend bailed last minute, and I biked to work alone; I then started commuting alone to work more often, and my husband was fine with it.

    What worked to convince my better half to be OK with me riding to work and participating in longer rides was:

    - Statistics backed by experience
    - Use of a relatively safe route to work on a multi-use path, residential streets, and city streets with bike lanes
    - my high confidence level in tube changing and other general bike maintenance
    - me promising to cycle through a small amount of high-crime neighborhoods/streets, and avoid them when possible.

    Through riding with me more and more, my husband eventually caught the bike bug, and now he mentioned he'd like to start bike commuting to work. I realize not every non-bike-crazy spouse will want to start riding with their bike enthusiast counterpart, but it will no doubt help. We also have had productive discussions about statistics, and how the media does a fair amount of fear mongering in the US; reasonable discussion and positive cycling experience has made my spouse much more comfortable with my bikey-ness.

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  48. I'm a randonneur, and my husband isn't. He does ask if I am planning to ride with someone. I think if I am out riding a solo ride, he worries. I do wear a RoadID. I am asking for a Spot for the upcoming holiday, which should reduce the worry some.

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