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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 06-27-12, 08:09 AM   #1
bkjames00
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Wife very worried that I've started to commute. Help please!

I'm new to bike commuting, but have been doing it the last few weeks. It's about 15 miles each way. I need some thoughts and suggestions.

My wife is adamantly opposed to the idea of me commuting by bike. She is really scared that I will get hit by a car and no matter how much I tell her that I bike very defensively and stay away from busy roads as much as I can, she insists that she will never be ok with my decision. She worries constantly and reminds me daily that none of her fellow Mom friends approve (we have 2 young children). Several have stated to her outright that I am being disrespectful by doing this.

Has anyone else dealt with an unsupportive spouse like this? I am absolutely loving my rides. It is so invigorating everytime I get into my office or pull up to my house on my bike. I'm losing weight, saving money, and just feel better about myself. However, I obviously don't want to create so much tension in my marriage and make her feel like I'm being totally selfish. Further, am I truly not understanding the risks that I'm taking? Is she right?

Any suggestions or advice is appreciated.

Brian
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Old 06-27-12, 08:12 AM   #2
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I convinced the gf to go with me a few times and that eased all of her fears.
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Old 06-27-12, 08:33 AM   #3
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My gf was the same way for a couple of months, and then after a while she apparently realized that since nothing had happened to me for 50 commutes or so, then maybe it wasn't as dangerous as she thought. Give it time, in other words.
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Old 06-27-12, 08:34 AM   #4
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I convinced the gf to go with me a few times and that eased all of her fears.
This. My wife has never had a problem with my bike commuting (except maybe a little when I'm riding in the dark). Lately she has been riding part of my commute with me -- she turns around at about 9 mile mark and heads home.

Your wife's fears are based on lack of knowledge, and the only way that will change will be to take her on the ride.
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Old 06-27-12, 08:40 AM   #5
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This. My wife has never had a problem with my bike commuting (except maybe a little when I'm riding in the dark). Lately she has been riding part of my commute with me -- she turns around at about 9 mile mark and heads home.

Your wife's fears are based on lack of knowledge, and the only way that will change will be to take her on the ride.
Plus, we get the bonus of time spent together and getting into better shape together
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Old 06-27-12, 08:49 AM   #6
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This is kind of a tough one. Your wife is being just as selfish as you are, so it's not like you are causing the issue, you both are. And bringing her friends into it doesn't help. I'm sure your friends agree with you as well, unsurprisingly.

I think that if she rides it with you a few times, maybe she'll feel better, but almost assuredly, she will feel better the longer you do it. Too many people feel that bike commuting is 'dangerous'. Despite all statistics showing otherwise, there is this fear that you are truly risking death every time you head out. So most of her fear is based on that feeling. Once you've ridden 30, 50, 100 or 1,000 times, she will at some point realize that you've been safe & that her fears were overblown. But until she reaches that time, you can't really force her to not worry, especially if her friends are egging her on.

I would make sure that I was doing whatever I could (within reason) to make myself safer (add a helmet, taillight, rearview mirror, etc, take a safer route when possible, and maybe calling her when you get to work, leave work, so that she kind of knows when to expect you).

It's not like you are doing something destructive to your marriage like hiding money, sleeping around or abusing drugs. You are riding your bike to work. Marriage is supposed to be a team thing, not a boss and a slave thing.

And to answer last that question, no you are not underesting the risk you are taking on, and no she is not right.
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Old 06-27-12, 08:56 AM   #7
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Stand your ground. Take her for a ride if she'll go, but do not cave. Honestly though, it's a good idea to make sure all your planning is in place, like advance medical directives, living will, any supplemental life or medical insurance you think you need...

She will get used to it, unless you give her reason to think she won't have to, either by waffling or putting some sort of 'trial period' time limit on things. Mine recognizes that I'm much happier in general when I ride regularly, which translates directly to a happier house overall. She pretty literally gave me up for dead when I took my first solo cross country tour, now I tour alone pretty often with no issues from her.

Besides, "Old Age" is a lousy way to die.

edit: I accidentally a letter.
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Old 06-27-12, 08:56 AM   #8
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you need to get the wife on a bike and the two children in rear bike seats.

make a family outing out of it (picnic at the park, riding along the lake) and then slide into commuting.
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Old 06-27-12, 09:00 AM   #9
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Disrespectful? Is she not disrespectful herself for wanting to keep you off the bike? (but I wouldn't say that out loud) My wife was worried at first but I told her to check at the hospital (she's a nurse in the the E.R. at our local hospital) how many cagers and how many cyclist came in for injuries resulting from accidents and that made my point. There's more risk of an accident in a car than on a bike (I know : on a bike you get hurt more badly). The other thing I told my wife is that we should all stay inside the house, quit our job, take the kids out of school because you never know what can happen! We would all be fat and depressed but safe! Now she's ok with it.
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Old 06-27-12, 09:04 AM   #10
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Disrespectful? Is she not disrespectful herself for wanting to keep you off the bike?
Not really. She's probably concerned/worried. Ignorant of bike commuting, perhaps, but probably still caring.

If she's not doing this from a caring perspective, and is doing it from a demanding perspective, that's a different issue that can't be solved here (except for perhaps suggestions for sneaking in your riding mileage.)

What you really need to do is to get the family to love bicycles and being "green" and then work the commuting in as an extension of an overall green/carbon neutral/healthy lifestyle.
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Old 06-27-12, 09:04 AM   #11
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Make sure you have good life insurance and disability insurance. At least her financial worries will be less.
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Old 06-27-12, 09:11 AM   #12
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To begin with - "disrespectful" is a construct of ego. It presupposes that there is some unstated standard of behavior that one is supposed to adhere to. Never mind that the standard of behavior is unstated. If one lets go of ego, the entire "disrespectful" thing disappears.

Second - I care less about the cackling of the rest of the hens in the hen house than I do about the goings-on on the various "wives" show that so pollute the airwaves these days. My immediate response to "my friends say..." is "I don't give a **** about what they think. I'm not married to them. I don't even like most of them."

Third - my wife had some of the same concerns regarding my safety. I took great pains to map out a ride (20 miles) that kept me off of busy roads. Most of my commute is through residential areas. Once I had the ride mapped and I rode it a few times, I took my wife through my commute in the car. We were on our way to a retail outlet near where I work and I said "Hey, while we're at it, let's take the route I ride so I can show you my commute!"

When she saw that I spend most of my time riding past well-trimmed lawns down quiet, well-shaded streets, her concerns were diminished.

Now she greets me with a giant cup of ice water when I get off my bike at the end of the day!

I have a great wife!
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Old 06-27-12, 09:12 AM   #13
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That's a toughie. My wife's very much in favor of my commuting until I come home with a near miss story, or worse yet, she sees me editing video of such events. She expresses concern but has never tried to get me to stop. And like you, I have kids.

Your best bet is to use statistics on her. You couple facts with your stance on riding defensively and a reasonable person should be put at ease.
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Old 06-27-12, 09:20 AM   #14
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Make sure you have good life insurance and disability insurance. At least her financial worries will be less.
Don't make a show of this, on the other hand. If you make a big fuss about shelling out for lots of lawyers and insurance agencies, she's just going to take that as tacit acceptance that what you're doing is fundamentally dangerous. Be prepared, but don't reinforce her fear.
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Old 06-27-12, 09:25 AM   #15
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My girlfriend was a bit apprehensive. I never used to wear a helmet, that seemed to give her something to fixate on. I started to wear one, and that's gone a long ways toward placating her.

So I guess my advice is...if you set the bar for safety low enough initially, you don't have to go very high to reach a compromise!
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Old 06-27-12, 09:26 AM   #16
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new wife?

is the current wife inclined to consider factual evidence...? riding a bike to work will make you more likely to live long enough to dance at your kids' weddings and meet your great-grandchildren...
"Compared with car users the estimated annual change in mortality of the Barcelona residents using Bicing (n = 181,982) was 0.03 deaths from road traffic incidents and 0.13 deaths from air pollution. As a result of physical activity, 12.46 deaths were avoided (benefit:risk ratio 77). The annual number of deaths avoided was 12.28." - The health risks and benefits of cycling in urban environments compared with car use: health impact assessment study - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21816732 - BMJ. 2011 Aug 4;343:d4521. doi: 10.1136/bmj.d4521.
if you ignore the deaths from air pollution and only look at traffic crashes, that gives a benefit:risk ratio of 415!
"For individuals who shift from car to bicycle, we estimated that beneficial effects of increased physical activity are substantially larger (3-14 months gained) than the potential mortality effect of increased inhaled air pollution doses (0.8-40 days lost) and the increase in traffic accidents (5-9 days lost)." - Do the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks? - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20587380 - Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Aug;118(8):1109-16. Epub 2010 Jun 11.
"Within the moderately and highly active persons, sports participants experienced only half the mortality of nonparticipants. Bicycling to work decreased risk of mortality in approximately 40% after multivariate adjustment, including leisure time physical activity." - All-cause mortality associated with physical activity during leisure time, work, sports, and cycling to work. - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10847255 -
Arch Intern Med. 2000 Jun 12;160(11):1621-8.
essentially, you're taking a small risk that something catastrophically bad might happen, and reducing a substantial risk that you'll die of old age, before you're old. hell, you could die in a car crash while driving a car; that happens to about 30K-40K people every year in the US, and about 1.6M, globally, IIRC. maybe you should just stay home...? but most accidental deaths occur at home... in fact you're 50% more likely to die of an accident in your home than in your car!

people suck at risk assessment. especially loving wives
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Old 06-27-12, 09:26 AM   #17
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...

Your best bet is to use statistics on her. You couple facts with your stance on riding defensively and a reasonable person should be put at ease.


this um....does not match my experiences in dealing with spouses.
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Old 06-27-12, 09:32 AM   #18
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Do you drive a car? Lots more accidents and deaths by those. Safety stuff? I use a helmet ( not open to discussion in this thread) , ansi 2 vest, front and rear blinkies and some low traffic roads. Where is your commute? Any bike / commuter advocacy groups in your area? I really find my bar end mirror helpful. I have averaged 2,000 bike commuter miles in each of the last 4 years. Rain, hail, snow and cold. I do however have several places for duck and cover thunderstorm issues. Also, she has noticed my 10 lbs smaller mid section and likes my sculpted legs. Truthfully, she worries more about my mountain bike stuff. Also, carry cellphone and tools to fix flat/ minor mechanical.

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Old 06-27-12, 09:32 AM   #19
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This is kind of a tough one. Your wife is being just as selfish as you are, so it's not like you are causing the issue, you both are. And bringing her friends into it doesn't help. I'm sure your friends agree with you as well, unsurprisingly.

I think that if she rides it with you a few times, maybe she'll feel better, but almost assuredly, she will feel better the longer you do it. Too many people feel that bike commuting is 'dangerous'. Despite all statistics showing otherwise, there is this fear that you are truly risking death every time you head out. So most of her fear is based on that feeling. Once you've ridden 30, 50, 100 or 1,000 times, she will at some point realize that you've been safe & that her fears were overblown. But until she reaches that time, you can't really force her to not worry, especially if her friends are egging her on.

I would make sure that I was doing whatever I could (within reason) to make myself safer (add a helmet, taillight, rearview mirror, etc, take a safer route when possible, and maybe calling her when you get to work, leave work, so that she kind of knows when to expect you).

It's not like you are doing something destructive to your marriage like hiding money, sleeping around or abusing drugs. You are riding your bike to work. Marriage is supposed to be a team thing, not a boss and a slave thing.

And to answer last that question, no you are not underesting the risk you are taking on, and no she is not right.
Thanks everyone. Some really good advice in here. And of course, I shouldn't have expected any of to tell me that I'm wrong... would need to go to the overprotective Mom/Wives forum for that....

While taking her for a ride with me would be ideal, don't know that I can do that anytime soon. She's not going to be able to make a 30 mile round trip ride with me and my kids are 4 and 5, so too old to get in a bike cart and I'm not getting new equipment to bring them along at that age. However, I will plan to drive the route with her soon. The problem is that if I just mention anything about biking, or even when I show her my new headlight, taillight, rack bag, etc., she just closes off and doesn't want to even talk about it. She is so insensed that I'm not seeing this her way and deciding to just quit.

I've thrown out statistics and facts and so on, and being the emotional being that she is, that's simply not going to convince her.

Ultimately, as many of you have suggested, I think that this will just take some time. I will need to gradually get her and my kids more and more accustomed to a biking lifestyle. I hope, as some of you have said, that after 50 to 100 rides, she will start to get used to it.

As for insurance. I'm good on that, but do need to get my will and living will finalized. They're drafted, just not legally reviewed/notarized. Not that this really will impact her feelings on the issue. However, if I took out a $10million policy she might be the one to run me over.... I kid, I kid.

Thanks. Seems like some really great people on this board. Looking forward to hanging around here...
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Old 06-27-12, 09:33 AM   #20
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this um....does not match my experiences in dealing with spouses.
You ain't kidding.
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Old 06-27-12, 09:35 AM   #21
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My girlfriend was a bit apprehensive. I never used to wear a helmet, that seemed to give her something to fixate on. I started to wear one, and that's gone a long ways toward placating her.

So I guess my advice is...if you set the bar for safety low enough initially, you don't have to go very high to reach a compromise!
Darn, I knew I should have waited to buy the helmet, headlight, taillight and 3 other flashies...
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Old 06-27-12, 09:39 AM   #22
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She's not going to be able to make a 30 mile round trip ride with me and my kids are 4 and 5, so too old to get in a bike cart and I'm not getting new equipment to bring them along at that age.
You've got to put some effort in.

Of course, you can't take a non-biker on a 30-mile RT commute. But you can buy her and the kids new bikes (please don't tell BF what you bought though) and take them for a short ride on the weekend. You need to make her and the family not bike-phobic (more bike-philic, ha ha) and then she can convert her friends.

If you're not willing to that, what do you expect?
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Old 06-27-12, 09:40 AM   #23
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I agree with the education part. While you may not be able to get out out on a bike, take her for a drive on the roads you bike. Tell her about the lights, and the level of traffic and what you would do "if X happens." Remind her that you have a cell phone. If you need get a road ID or reflective gear to make her feel more at ease about it.

My Wife wanted me to start wearing all sorts of reflective gear and have crazy amounts of lights and all that jazz on my bike to commute to/from work. I didn't buy anything new and purchased (what can be loosely called) lights for riding at night. After a 2 weeks and her actually passing me on my commute home she realized a 6'2" guy traveling in a yellow jersey kinda stands out. During the first week I'd text her when I got to work, and when I was leaving just so she'd be ok. I would not bother to fight her about it. Just ask her what would make her a little more at ease about it..... its like eating an elephant.. you do it one bite at a time

good luck.
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Old 06-27-12, 09:47 AM   #24
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You've got to put some effort in.

Of course, you can't take a non-biker on a 30-mile RT commute. But you can buy her and the kids new bikes (please don't tell BF what you bought though) and take them for a short ride on the weekend. You need to make her and the family not bike-phobic (more bike-philic, ha ha) and then she can convert her friends.

If you're not willing to that, what do you expect?
We already go on leisurely rides as a family but only in our neighborhood and occasionally on a dedicated bike/walk trail (no cars). Also, she's not bike phobic. She's ridden in a triatholon sprint and has ridden around the neighborhood a good bit. But she's definitely not up to par for a 30 mile ride right now. Heck, neither am I on this route. The return home has some pretty tough elevations for a newbie like me. 15 in the morning and 15 after work is just enough for me for right now.

Anyway, I get what you're saying, and would certainly like to bring my family 'along for the ride' so to speak. My comments on this were about the short-term, though.
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Old 06-27-12, 09:50 AM   #25
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We already go on leisurely rides as a family but only in our neighborhood and occasionally on a dedicated bike/walk trail (no cars).
Well, you're 95% there.

Introduce some cars sans kids.
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