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  1. #1
    Resident Wolverine
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    Trying to get girlfriend into cycling, but she only wants to ride on sidwalks!

    As a 21-year-old college student, I've been fair-weather bike commuting for almost a year and my girlfriend has expressed an interest in cycling with me recreationally. So today, I went to her house and we set out to a local bike trail on our bikes. I asked her if she wanted to ride on the roads, and she emphatically told me that she wouldn't ride on the roads and would only go out if we rode on the sidwalks.

    I figured that riding on the sidewalks was better than not riding at all, and we did have a great ride, but I want to know what Bike Forums members think is the best way to wean my girlfriend off sidewalk riding and into road riding. We rode on some busy roads to get to the path, so perhaps I can take her out on some side streets to practice signalling.
    Last edited by jumpr; 05-23-06 at 03:58 PM.
    When in doubt, clip out.

  2. #2
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    More info needed. Why is riding on roads so dangerous? Bicycle injury and death data says riding sidewalks across driveways is many many times more dangerous than riding on the road. This is probably not rational, but emotional. You need to dig more..
    Hi 'o Silver away

  3. #3
    One speed: FAST ! fordfasterr's Avatar
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    I had the same problem with my g/f at first.....

    So what I did was to start riding beside her on the road while she was on the sidewalk... pritty soon she figured out that the sidwalk was not really meant for bikes... lots of close calls with obstacles, poles.. one of the worse issues was sidewalk exit and entry ramps... she soon realized that I was not slowing down like she was at each intersection.. I would ride through, slow down, and wait for her to catch up almost every single time...

    Now we ride exclusively on the roads.. it took her about a month to transition fully but she finally did...

    One thing that helped was that in some parts of our neighborhood we don't have sidewalks at all... so she just had no choice. Part of our weekend ride is 60% road (without useable sidewalks).


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  4. #4
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    Good suggestions. I'll give her some info, and I'll show her how much more efficient riding on the road can be.
    When in doubt, clip out.

  5. #5
    Banned Help Im A Noob's Avatar
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    tell her its less bumpy on the road so it wont hurt her down south as much

  6. #6
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Try to find the ideal street.

    Little traffic
    No sidewalk
    Either beautiful in its own right or that goes somewhere nice.

    Take her there.

    OK it is hard to get all of these, but perhaps a really nice ride that has some small part on a back road with no sidewalk or perhaps a sidewalk that sucks.

    Trying to convince her that the sidewalk is less safe than she thinks is a risky business at this point. You may win the battle and lose the war. Instead of convincing her to ride the street it may convince her to not ride at all.

    Also it might be good to find roads closed to vehicles. There are many areas where old roads are now closed or parts of parks where the roads are closed to cars on the weekend. Here in California one of the great ways to ease someone into trying the roads is to take the car to about 1/2 mile from the beach bikepath and taking reasonable streets for that short distance. Perhaps there is something like that near you for a lake of forest path?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
    More info needed. Why is riding on roads so dangerous? Bicycle injury and death data says riding sidewalks across driveways is many many times more dangerous than riding on the road. This is probably not rational, but emotional. You need to dig more..

    Its Ann Arbor (big college town)

    I would say have her ride some back roads, minimum amount of traffic, not subdivision streets but roads. Maybe ride at time like 10 am, less people on the road. Also, remember that if she is just getting into cycling, she may not be as comfortable with her bike as you are.


    Hope it works out!

  8. #8
    ramblin' man rambler500's Avatar
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    theres always the option of driving somewhere where it is less busy to get her used to being on the street. or if youre into it as well try mountain biking, no cars, just nice dirt trails and trees and nature!!

  9. #9
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    Some people were not meant for each other.
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  10. #10
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    I agree, perhaps you two should see different people. It's obviously not working out.

  11. #11
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    Tell the b!$ch to grow up and learn to ride on the road like a big girl. Or perhaps slvoid and geo8rge are correct, trade her in for someone more compatible. You are still young and there are plenty of fish in the sea. It sounds like this chick is a real downer.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Cavedog's Avatar
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    Patience. She may be trying the old Jedi mind trick on you. Ride your ride, and let her ride hers. If she meets you in the street, pick up a nice four dollar bottle of wine and go back to your place.......
    Madness takes its toll. Please have exact change.

  13. #13
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Tell her it is illegal.

    In Winnipeg, she'd be charged $35 every time she was caught riding on the sidewalks. Hey ... if she can afford that (or whatever the fine is in your area), they she can go right ahead!!

  14. #14
    Team Katana 古強者死神's Avatar
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    In Florida its legal ^^ and there are quite a few areas I think it would be a good idea to do so.

    For your peticular problem I would look up online if you have any paved trails in your area. Besides the paved trails in some of the parks we have a 28 mile "sidewalk" that goes thru my part of florida just for bicycles, skaters, and wheel chairs. Its just a really big paved trail.

    So she is happy that your on the sidewalk, and your not having to slow down, and your both out of harms way of traffic.

  15. #15
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    Be patient and don't nag her. When I went back to riding after a long hiatus, I swore I was done riding on the road and would only ride the MUT. I used to commute by bike forty years ago and had lots of close calls. Today's traffic seemed more aggressive and certainly more dense and fast. It took a few months but I became comfortable with it again and now ride almost everywhere. Let her get used to the bike, riding in general and she may change her mind, but only if you help make it a pleasurable experience for her.

  16. #16
    Tiocfáidh ár Lá jfmckenna's Avatar
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    Have a friend park in hiding on a driveway in a big pickup truck. Then take her riding along that side walk. Your friend who is waiting behind the bushes pulls out right at her and beeps his loud ass truck horn right into her face. If she survives the mild heart attack from fright then she probably won't ever do it again and you and your friend will have a good laugh.


  17. #17
    Older I get, Better I was velonomad's Avatar
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    Tell her that riding on the sidewalk is the "missionary position" of cycling and you would like to try something new.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfmckenna
    Have a friend park in hiding on a driveway in a big pickup truck. Then take her riding along that side walk. Your friend who is waiting behind the bushes pulls out right at her and beeps his loud ass truck horn right into her face. If she survives the mild heart attack from fright then she probably won't ever do it again and you and your friend will have a good laugh.

    That would be a good way to become her ex... I think the OP should assess his GF's bike handling skills. Maybe she feels she's not up to it? There are many people riding on the open roads...but that doesn't mean their skills are up to handle the different situations that might come up. There are some cyclists who are killed because of certain bad moves.

  19. #19
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    I think that people here are missing the most important reason why sidewalk bike riding is done by others less familiar with road riding. It is because parents, teachers, relatives and other well meaning custodial adults taught, encouraged and ordered the the young budding cyclist ride on sidewalks (and punished the ones that failed to do so) so much that as adults, it becomes second nature. The now adult rider does not realize that it is much safer, faster, and easier to be in the road. The wheeled bicycle is a vehicle after all and is much more efficient on the street moving along in a predictably safe, orderly fashion.

    Cycling is something that one just "picks up" as he/she goes along. There is no really safe instruction given to the youngster beyond the teaching adult just holding on on a moving bike and yelling to the novice. He/she has to wait for the socially acceptable Drivers Ed programs offered at the high school level to gain any decent instruction on being on the road in any vehicle.

  20. #20
    Kwisatz Haderach fillthecup's Avatar
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    Patience patience patience. Focus on the fact that she wants to bike with you, that's awesome.

    This situation mirrors mine. My girlfriend started out with really shaky bike skills. Over time, she has, on her own, decided to join me on my commute and grocery shopping. Bringing her up to speed on bike commuting and bicycle touring has been sort of like growing and shaping a bonsai tree.

  21. #21
    Cycle Dallas MMACH 5's Avatar
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    When I started commuting, I did it on the sidewalk. It only took a few weeks of almost getting hit and then actually getting hit to get me out in the road. Of course, then I rode as a gutter bunny for a few weeks until I realized that my ride was much less stressful, when taking the lane. If you can keep her riding, she'll come around.
    That's gonna leave a mark.

  22. #22
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jumpr
    As a 21-year-old college student, I've been fair-weather bike commuting for almost a year and my girlfriend has expressed an interest in cycling with me recreationally. So today, I went to her house and we set out to a local bike trail on our bikes. I asked her if she wanted to ride on the roads, and she emphatically told me that she wouldn't ride on the roads and would only go out if we rode on the sidwalks. What do I do?
    Dear Cyclist in Distress,

    Killing silently is a tall order, but a quick look at an anatomy chart will show that the larynx is an easy enough target—providing you can make a stealthy submerged approach, sneak up on your victim, and catch him unaware. Once that's accomplished, grasp his hair as close to the scalp as you're able to and yank his head back while using your Ka-Bar combat knife to make a lateral cut across his throat. Make sure you sever both the carotid artery and jugular vein while piercing the windpipe, and press hard; the larynx is a tough, rubbery piece of tissue.

  23. #23
    Stv
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    RIDE don't walk, from this one bub!

    You ain't never gonna change'em. If they have an innate fear of the road, ain't nothing you can do to change that. Ever!

    BEENTHERESEENITDONEIT
    Last edited by Stv; 05-24-06 at 07:39 PM.
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  24. #24
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    Ann Arbor you say? I went to U of M, and I would have been terrified to ride anywhere but the streets. Aren't there still hordes of people on the sidewalks there? What does she do, plow through them? I still have bad dreams about hitting people and dogs on the Diag.

    I am so grateful to Ann Arbor. That's where I developed good cycling habits.

  25. #25
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