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Old 03-10-05, 05:53 PM   #1
LittleBigMan
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One more point

The old saying, "I can't see the forest because there are too many trees" comes to mind in the following meditation: amidst all the arguments about bike lanes, bike paths, wide outside lanes, cyclists' facilities, enforcing speed limits, road rage, DUI, etc., etc., etc., one thing stands out. Almost everyone drives. Relatively few cycle for transportation. Crunch the numbers. Does our "vote" really count?

Motorists are going to get the first and foremost consideration vs. cyclists in any conflict where their needs conflict with ours (I speak foolishly, since I am both a cyclist and a motorist.) Cyclists will never get equal consideration with motorists until their numbers become comparative.

Next, we should think about how the number of cyclists will become comparative to that of motorists.

A nuclear war is the first thing that comes to mind...(again, I'm speaking foolishly...)'

Do we cyclists really think motorists will give up their convenience of speed (watch how they race up to the next traffic light at 120% of the speed limit, only to discover it has turned red ) just so we half-dozen or so cyclists can play with our toys where we don't belong?
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Old 03-10-05, 06:07 PM   #2
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I think that the whole point of America is that everyone has rights--whether they are in the minority or the majority. So cagers must share the road with us, like it or not.
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Old 03-10-05, 06:11 PM   #3
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I think that the whole point of America is that everyone has rights--whether they are in the minority or the majority. So cagers must share the road with us, like it or not.
If everyone had your attitude, we'd be able to take on many times our number.
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Old 03-10-05, 10:32 PM   #4
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Last year on the LAB website, there was a question about a legal case in Illinois. Apparently, in a court decision, bicycles were classified as a "permitted" use of the road.
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Old 03-10-05, 10:59 PM   #5
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Has it occured to anyone that the idea that forcing everyone to agree to something that only a majority wants is a form of bullying?

The adult way to do things is to work out a balance between every road user's needs that is acceptable to everyone, not just the ones with the biggest voices. But as long as people are being indoctrinated with the foolish notion that democracy is some sort of ideal it'll never happen.
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Old 03-10-05, 11:34 PM   #6
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Has it occured to anyone that the idea that forcing everyone to agree to something that only a majority wants is a form of bullying?

The adult way to do things is to work out a balance between every road user's needs that is acceptable to everyone, not just the ones with the biggest voices. But as long as people are being indoctrinated with the foolish notion that democracy is some sort of ideal it'll never happen.
This is why a democracy does not work, at least in a pure form. The majority will inevitably repress the minority. This is why the minorities have to be represented equally, otherwise, they will NEVER get equal treatment. I think that Thoreau wrote about this in "Civil disobedience."
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Old 03-11-05, 01:45 AM   #7
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" Does our "vote" really count? "

- - Consider the Americans With Disabilities Act. A small minority used the LAW to both enact and enforce legislation and made their vote really count.

Given enough energy over time, we will make our vote count.
Just like surmounting a long hill, it takes energy over time.
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Old 03-11-05, 08:06 AM   #8
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A large point is being missed in LittleBigMan's original post, and that is trying to get more people in the US off their sofas, out of their cars, & into cycling. I look around my office & see many people who live the same distance or closer to work as me, yet would never consider biking to work, despite seeing me do it every day.
These same people are gradually packing on the pounds, then trying to lose it through dieting, without any thought to incorporating physical fitness into the mix. I try to convince co-workers that if they just tried it a couple of times, they might actually like it, but my suggestions are quickly dismissed.

Instead of resigning ourselves to being classified as a minority, we should be looking into better ways of convincing people to join us in cycling and pulling ourselves out of that minority category.
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Old 03-11-05, 08:55 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
... Almost everyone drives. Relatively few cycle for transportation. Crunch the numbers. Does our "vote" really count?...

Do we cyclists really think motorists will give up their convenience of speed ...
BAh...poopy and poppycock! Hows that! for a putdown. Reducing cyclists' power to numbers is an oversimplification: the roadway is a far more dynamic environment than cyclists seem to think.

There are places where pedestrians have very strong rights: in a crosswalk for example. There are places where if a pedestrian gets clocked by a vehicle they get very little sympathy...jaywalking between two parked cars, for example. Much the same with cycling: on or near the shoulder I feel perfectly comfortable as a rider. When I arrive at a busy intersection I find it much easier to dismount and scoot across. Both as a cyclist and motorist I have little sympathy for cyclists who ride recklessly in traffic, any more than I have sympathy for say, motorcyclists who do so.

"Almost everyone drives." yes..in fact, alot of cyclists, including this one, drive on a regular basis for a host of reasons, the vast majority of which make tremendous sense. 'Speed" is only one of the conveniences, and very often it is not the most important one by any means.


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Old 03-11-05, 09:56 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by 77Univega
" Does our "vote" really count? "

- - Consider the Americans With Disabilities Act. A small minority used the LAW to both enact and enforce legislation and made their vote really count.

Given enough energy over time, we will make our vote count.
Just like surmounting a long hill, it takes energy over time.
Ah yes... one loud single voice...

The last time I looked there were at least 3 "voices" singing different notes in the bicycle community... LAB, LABreform, and something called American Cyclist (I think). LAB and LABreform are at each other's throat.
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Old 03-11-05, 10:00 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by ivan_yulaev
This is why a democracy does not work, at least in a pure form. The majority will inevitably repress the minority. This is why the minorities have to be represented equally, otherwise, they will NEVER get equal treatment. I think that Thoreau wrote about this in "Civil disobedience."
This is why we have a clause in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms on equality rights.

Popular (political) opinion can run over a minority, but the courts can make things right. Too bad it takes so much effort and money to challenge laws that are wrong in the eyes of equality.
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Old 03-11-05, 10:25 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by nick burns
Instead of resigning ourselves to being classified as a minority, we should be looking into better ways of convincing people to join us in cycling and pulling ourselves out of that minority category.
Great idea. Tough proposition. One of my good friends simply dismisses the idea of fitness with this line of reasoning: "People in my family don't exercise." Or, as we've all experienced, if you mention that you've ridden farther than around the block, half the people you know will think you're either nuts, training for the TDF or (most likely) both. The truly frightening part: even kids these days seem to be a bunch of butterballs happy to endlessly sit in front of a computer. Speaking of which, I think I'll get out of here and go for a bike ride.
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Old 03-11-05, 01:18 PM   #13
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Great idea. Tough proposition. One of my good friends simply dismisses the idea of fitness with this line of reasoning: "People in my family don't exercise." Or, as we've all experienced, if you mention that you've ridden farther than around the block, half the people you know will think you're either nuts, training for the TDF or (most likely) both. The truly frightening part: even kids these days seem to be a bunch of butterballs happy to endlessly sit in front of a computer. Speaking of which, I think I'll get out of here and go for a bike ride.
While anyone without significant health problems is a potential cyclist, I think it's useful to categorize non-cyclists in terms of why they are not cyclists, and then consider with which groups we might be most successful.

With that in mind, the "people in my family don't exercise" bunch is probably the closest to a lost cause. These folks generally have no interest in any kind of physical activity, which cycling certainly is. If you focus on them, you're probably dooming yourself to depression and failure with respect to cycling recruitment. I say we have a lot of other groups to work on before we need to concern ourselves with the devoted couch potatoes.

I think by far the biggest group with whom we have the most potential success with cycling recruitment are those that have an interest in cycling, own a bike or at least have owned a bike, have had positive/fun experiences cycling in the past, are not averse to physical activity (do engage in activities like jogging, hiking, tennis, gym spinning, skiiing, etc.), and primarily do not cycle because they feel it's too dangerous. I'm mostly talking about the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of folks who have dust covered bikes standing or hanging in their garages and apartments, with deflated tires, that have not been ridden in 12 months or longer. How do we get them on the road?

Some people think facilities are the answer. I disagree. Here's why: I think the fundamental problem that keeps most of the folks in this group from riding is the (false) belief that cycling in traffic is inherently dangerous. I hear it all the time. Healthy looking people who obviously are active, learn that I commute in traffic to work shaking their head. So, you have to get past that belief to learn to enjoy riding in traffic. If you don't get past it, you probably won't even try it. And if you do try it, without getting over the belief, you probably won't enjoy it. If you don't enjoy it, you probably won't do it for very long. So the key is helping them get over the belief that cycling in traffic is inherently dangerous.

Like I said, some people think facilities are the answer, because facilities (allegedly) get cyclists out of traffic. If you're riding out of traffic, you're avoiding the "inherent danger" of riding in traffic. Presto, problem solved. But, of course, it's not that simple. First, facilities don't really get you of traffic. Bike paths do to some extent, but bike path entrances and exits, along with mid-crossings, are known to be extremely dangerous. And bike-bike, bike-ped, bike-dog collisions are all too common on bike paths (there was a recent thread about a fatal injury on a bike path here). And very few routes are "all bike path". As long as there is any significant riding in traffic along a given route, the average person in this group (who believes cycling in traffic is inherently dangerous) is probably still not going to to do it. That brings us to bike lanes...

One school of thought is that the only way one can get over the belief that cycling in traffic is inherently dangerous is by... riding in traffic. That until you ride in traffic, you'll never get over it. So, what bike lanes do is "trick" these people into riding in traffic in bike lanes, where they think they are safer then they would be without the bike lanes. Even though there is no evidence that shows that bike lanes do make cycling in traffic safer, and in fact there is reasoning that indicates (though doesn't prove) that bike lanes make it more dangerous, the main thing is gets these people out there. Once they're out there, at least some percentage are bound to learn that cycling in traffic can be safe, and, hopefully, they'll learn to do it before they die in the process of learning. Without the bike lanes, they wouldn't even try it.

I disagree with the approach primarily because I think it's highly ineffective. Most of the people who are enticed into trying cycling because of the promise of safety by bike lanes are still intimidated by the biggest problem: intersections, for which bike lanes offer almost nothing (some people think the BL to the left of the right turn only lane is helpful in intersections). Bike lanes don't really address their concern: the alleged inherent danger of cycling in traffic. In fact, bike lanes support that notion. After all, if cycling in traffic was not inherently dangerous, why would we even need bike lanes? So bike lanes don't solve, and in fact foster, the very belief that is keeping this whole group from cycling. People see bike lanes and what can they think other than the "powers that be" must know that bike lanes are necessary to keep cyclists safe. Bike lanes can only hurt us in our quest to get people to stop believing that cycling in traffic is inherently dangerous.

I believe the real solution lies in the principle of vehicular cycling, and in the dissemination, popularization and advocacy of cycling according to this principle.

The idea that cycling in traffic is NOT inherently dangerous, and just about anyone can learn to do it safely, must be disseminated, popularized, and advocated at every opportunity. The spread of vehicular cycling should be at the heart of every bicycling advocacy effort and group. And only when it is, and still fails, will I be convinced otherwise. So why not try it?

One thing is for sure: thirty years of the facilities approach has not succeeded in popularizing cycling. All that seems to have worked are rising oil prices, Greg Lemond, and Lance Armstrong (six months ago I would have included Tyler Hamilton in this list Maybe Bobby Julich's success at Paris-Nice this week will help get him on the list.
As of today Bobby's in the leader's jersey!
)

Last edited by Serge Issakov; 03-11-05 at 01:31 PM. Reason: typo: to->too
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Old 03-11-05, 01:25 PM   #14
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And I had you pegged for post #18. Lost another one.
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Old 03-11-05, 01:48 PM   #15
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What can I say? I believe that bike lanes are at the root of most of cyclists' woes, and VC is the solution to most of them. Do you blame me for taking the opportunity to point this out?

RETRACTION: Treespeed graciously brought to my attention the fact that contending "bike lanes are at the root of most of cyclists' woes" is absurd. I hereby retract that statement. 3/11/2005 -SI

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Old 03-11-05, 02:10 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Serge *******
What can I say? I believe that bike lanes are at the root of most of cyclists' woes, and VC is the solution to most of them. Do you blame me for taking the opportunity to point this out?
Nope, completely anticipated it actually.

The perceived danger of riding in traffic may contribute to keeping some potential cyclists off their bikes, but I don't believe it's as high up on the list as you make it out to be.
I think most people who have bikes hanging in the garage collecting dust bought them with good intentions of riding. A variety of circumstances such as family obligations, boredom, work, and just the shear effort that they didn't anticipate are probably reasons why they stopped riding. Look at all of the home gyms that serve as clothes racks now. They dust their bikes off one or two weekends a year, only to hang them up again & return to their inactive routines. Another good example are mountain bikes that people bought intending to ride every week- offroad. Fear of traffic doesn't come into play here, but they're still not riding the bikes they bought.
There seems to be a widespread distaste for physical exertion in this society. We shouldn't dismiss the couch potatoes as hopeless causes. They're the ones that need help the most. If we don't address them now, we'll all end up paying for their health problems later in life.
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Old 03-11-05, 02:24 PM   #17
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Serge,

You argue that facilities do nothing to foster cycling popularity, but then you can't explain why cities like Portland and Seattle, which invested in facilities and education are considered cycling cities. Yes, vehicular cycling is the best way to go and cyclists are safer for the most part if they have the skils to ride in that matter.

You go from stating that facilities draw cyclists out, but then stating that because they don't learn VC they don't stick with it, or that they never leave bike lanes. Both of these statements are dead wrong. The simple fact is that no one has a bike lane that begins at their house or ends at their exact destination. But you get around this point by saying that cyclists never graduate to using arterials or every road they could possibly use. This is hogwash, most cyclists seek out the nicest and lowest density roads when choosing their routes, regardless of experience.

So yes VC training would benefit most novice cyclists, but you have again gotten all bent about your contrived intersection/bike lane problems don't seem to keep any Seattle cyclists I knew novice/experienced from having accident free rides/commutes. As SBhikes and I have stated again and again, VC and bike facilities are not incompatible.

It is my contention and experience in Seattle that facilities bring out more cyclists on facilities and on roadways connecting to facilities. Motorists get use to seeing more cyclists in and out of bike lanes and are educated as cyclist rights are enforced and good cycling behavior is enforced by cops and other cyclists. Advocacy and riding groups like the Cascade Bicycle Club emerge and then you have experienced cyclists who could teach proper cycling to novices, formally and informally.

Serge your whole argument hinges on an increase in accidents at intersections with bike lanes, something that you just haven't proven. All of your testimony is pure conjecture. The issue of merging for turns at any intersection always raises the potential for accidents of any kind, for all users. I think that you give drivers way too little credit with your assumptions that they are unaware of bike lanes and the cyclists in them. If they were unaware of the bike lane they would be driving in it, or there would be more overtaking accidents of which we all know there are very little.

Your either/or belief regarding VC & BL is frustrating to say the least Serge. And your logic, while reasoned is based on assumptions and premises that cannot be proven as fact. Some of these such as motorists drift, bike lanes always collect debris, bike lanes and intersections can never safely co-exist, and motorists are oblivious to cyclists in bike lanes are the basis of your whole anti-BL crusade. Yet you've never even been to places where bike lanes and MUT work and discount the experiences of many posters who argue their worth.

In fact your three main points from your last post are completely false Serge. One, that bike lane users never graduate to become experienced cyclists or their would be no experienced cyclists in cities like Seattle, two that bike lanes are inherently more dangerous, so we should see an increase in accidents on roadways with bike lanes. and third we should see cyclists avoiding these facilities after encountering multiple problems on roadways with bike lanes. Or are you arguing that cyclists in these cities are too stupid to protect themselves from obvious danger? The fact is that these facilities draw cyclists and motorists become more familiar with seeing cyclists throughout a city, not just in bike lanes.
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Old 03-11-05, 02:39 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Serge *******
What can I say? I believe that bike lanes are at the root of most of cyclists' woes, and VC is the solution to most of them. Do you blame me for taking the opportunity to point this out?
Serge, this statement so shows how clueless you are about what happens in other cities. Please go to Seattle and look at all the woeful cyclists on the Dexter, Eastlake, and Madison St. Bike Lanes. Those poor bastards just don't realize how bad they've got it.

You should especially visit the Burke Gilman MUT on a weekday and explain to everyone how miserable and unsafe they really are, and then come back on a weekend and tell all the families with your kids how they should really be out there negotiating on-ramps and 50mph arterials where they would be much safer.

Seriously though, despite all of your many posts you have not made any real connection between any verifiable woes and bike lanes. And it's posts like the one above that do little to make you seem like you are offering a reasoned alternative. When you state that something a lot of people use and enjoy safely on a regular basis, opinions based on experience not just emotion as you are fond of arguing, are the root of all evil in the cycling world, you come off as quite a crank.
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Old 03-11-05, 02:53 PM   #19
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Fitness, cycling, convienence, commuting, etc...

I'll just make some notes from personal experience and what I've heard from others.

Why I never commuted by bike before... Never really considered it, when you get in your day to day routine sometimes you just don't think of alternatives.
Fitness... I ran after work, hiked. I owned a mtb, but was turned off by need to take it to trails.
Convienience.. It is and remains more convienient to drive to work for me (but I never do ). I now need to put much more planning into things like dr. appt, errands, etc. Where I live it is quicker to get around by car, especially when you consider the need for a shower during the summer months. What used to be a 1hr trip to Dr. now takes 2hrs. I can't run to Home Depot during lunch to pick up the plywood 4x8' sheets I need. I find I run more errands after work in car now. Sometimes errands must be done after work by car. No way I could leave work early enough to do it all by bike. I've made some adjustments as to where Dr., haircut, etc. are done, but sometimes these things can't changed
Showers... a lot of folks really like the convienence of showering at home.
Distance... 9mi seems like a good distance to cycle to work unless you've tried it. Ooops, you forget something at home. A 1hr. round trip by bike to get it.
Equipment... You need more than a bike, you need lights, helmet, a way to carry your stuff, cold weather clothing, etc.
Safety and Danger.... never once considered that as a reason not to cycle to work.

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Old 03-11-05, 02:57 PM   #20
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And Serge hijacks yet another topic...
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Old 03-11-05, 03:07 PM   #21
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And Serge hijacks yet another topic...
He was basically invited to by the title 'one more point...' clearly an extension of the other related threads. I don't see why he shouldn't express himself. Others with different viewpoint can be just as stuborn and annoying.

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Old 03-11-05, 03:42 PM   #22
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I tried to adress the whole issue of a single voice from the cycling community in this thread .

It seems to me we will never have the power that the Americans With Disabilities have until we can somehow become unified.

It also seems to me that there is a minority within the cycling community that insists on their method of riding as being superior, yet offers no viable means to share that method with the majority of riders out there. Yet daily, new riders are hitting the streets without this "superior" knowledge.

Perhaps bicycles should not be sold unless accompanied with training material. Currently there are required safety instructions included. Why shouldn't there be some mandated training required before someone ventures out into the streets. Auto drivers must be licensed, yet anybody taking a bicycle out into the same vehicular lanes can do this with no training what so ever.

It seems to me that if vehicular cyclists want all the exact same rights, rules and access to the roads, they should be advocating an equal license system.
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Old 03-11-05, 03:47 PM   #23
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Gene

that's a nice thought, but do we really nead any more red tape in this discussion. We can't even agree in this forum, how would we come up with training that everyone could agree on?
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Old 03-11-05, 03:49 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Serge *******
Some people think facilities are the answer. I disagree.
Do you think you could, just for once, get your ego-reenforcement elsewhere? This is become very close to troll behaviour.

Everyone: raise your hands if you would like to be able to enjoy a thread (or maybe two!) without Serge high-jacking it.
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Old 03-11-05, 03:59 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by nick burns
A large point is being missed in LittleBigMan's original post, and that is trying to get more people in the US off their sofas, out of their cars, & into cycling. I look around my office & see many people who live the same distance or closer to work as me, yet would never consider biking to work, despite seeing me do it every day.
Its not just the US. Obesity rates in Canada are nearly as high. Our airlines recently decided to increase the baseline figure they use for average passenger weight because people are getting fatter.

People are lazy. Its in our nature, we can't deny it. The question is: how do we help someone overcome years of inertia and get off their lazy butt? I've been around this one many time with my life-partner: he starts being active, he gets busy, he stops. The one thing I have noticed with him and others is how hard it is for someone in very bad shape to start any sort of physical activity. They are too out of shape to get any adrenaline or endorphin rush, and most "simple" exercises like riding a bike for a block is very hard work. I can understand that: I'm not very athletic myself and I pack on the pounds easily if I'm not careful. The only thing I can think of that is different between me and "them" is that I have set goals, reached them, and the rewards I get in terms of feeling and looking better make me want to keep active.

You can't force anyone to cycle if they don't want to. You can, however, tempt them by talking about what you have gained and stressing that almost anyone can do it. (Or follow my plan, "Hi Honey, I fixed up your bike. Guess what we're doing now?" )
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