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Old 05-22-13, 08:56 AM   #1
nd2010
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My girlfriend's too scared to ride her bike on the street

Yesterday I finally convinced my girlfriend to dust off her bike and go for a ride with me. She was fine on the empty neighborhood streets, but once she got on a street with a little traffic, she moved to the sidewalk. I couldn't convince her to get on the road. How would I get her to start riding on the roads?

Also, I remember one time when she was driving, she got pissed at a cyclist taking the right lane of a 4 lane road because there was no shoulder. I told her it's only delaying us by a few seconds and she could move to the left lane to pass.
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Old 05-22-13, 09:12 AM   #2
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Can you plan a route that minimizes riding on high traffic roads?
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Old 05-22-13, 09:17 AM   #3
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^ Good suggestion. How about locating paved or firm paths where you could ride together? If your intention is to marry this girl, you'll need to think as her guide and protector. So, be sensitive and show that you care by giving her safe options. She'll respond to this gesture on your part. PG

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Old 05-22-13, 09:24 AM   #4
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Yesterday you finally convinced your girlfriend to dust off her bike and go for a ride with you. One day! Grab some patience.

For the next several weeks, you'll likely have to ride on empty neighbourhood streets and very quiet roads when you ride with her. Do you have any decent MUPS (some that aren't all cluttered up with pedestrians, roller bladers, small children and dogs) in your neighbourhood? What about quiet country roads?
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Old 05-22-13, 09:45 AM   #5
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I'd definitely let her build up some confidence off the roads first. Some people never do adjust to traffic though. Personally the fitter I became the more I felt I could keep up with traffic appropriately and felt more confortable riding on the streets. Have you asked her what bothers her? It could very well be something that none of us could guess too.
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Old 05-22-13, 10:49 AM   #6
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Patience. If you push before she is ready I expect that bike will end up gathering more dust in the garage.
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Old 05-22-13, 11:09 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by nd2010 View Post
Also, I remember one time when she was driving, she got pissed at a cyclist taking the right lane of a 4 lane road because there was no shoulder. I told her it's only delaying us by a few seconds and she could move to the left lane to pass.
This remark makes me wonder whether she is afraid of riding on the road, or whether she thinks that bikes don't belong on the road. Have you asked her why she won't ride with traffic? If it's not knowing what's behind her, a mirror can help. (I consider my mirror to be a far more important piece of safety equipment than my helmet.) If it's worry about being so close to cars, give her time. If it's a belief that bikes shouldn't mix with motor vehicles, you can point her to John Allen's Bicycling Street Smarts.

But as others have already said, the important thing is to take things slowly. Allow her to build up confidence as a rider. And accept the possibility that she may never want to ride with traffic. You can't make a person do something that she doesn't want to do, at least not if you're in a relationship between equals.
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Old 05-22-13, 11:58 AM   #8
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It's like telling somebody to stand in the slow lane during rush hour,with their back to the traffic....I promise the cars won't hit you....Just keep standing there,the cars will come a few inches from you at 40MPH,but don't worry,everything will be fine....

Takes a little while to restore faith in humanity....and to realize that everybodys car doesn't need the front wheels greased.......

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Old 05-22-13, 12:47 PM   #9
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Four lanes and she bickers. I'd dump her.
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Old 05-22-13, 12:49 PM   #10
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Four lanes and she bickers. I'd dump her.
i was trying to come up with a more diplomatic answer , but yeah after that i was kind of wondering what he saw in her.
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Old 05-22-13, 02:13 PM   #11
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stick to trails for now. Once she gets into cycling you'd have to beg her to get off the bike.
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Old 05-22-13, 02:28 PM   #12
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I suggest she tries riding with some other girls that ride on the road, without you present. It's likely she'll feel more comfortable, less intimidated, and more supported. Female group dynamics and male group dynamics are different, and both are different from mixed gender group dynamics.
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Old 05-22-13, 02:38 PM   #13
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You need a Breeze type Network which was set up Rides by women for women and its whole ethos is to provide easy going bike rides purely to instil confidence in nervous riders as well as more experienced ladies as well.

http://www.goskyride.com/Breeze/Index


But in the meantime dont dump her, be there for her and be patient.

If you all dumped your GF/BF for being scared in traffic, where would love be so if you give her time and have a laugh along the way then she will soon wonder what she was worried about.
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Old 05-22-13, 02:51 PM   #14
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for the record, i didn't say dump her because she's scared in traffic, i say dump her because she was mad about a biker on the road.

Last edited by rica rica; 05-22-13 at 02:52 PM. Reason: quoted incorrectly
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Old 05-22-13, 03:18 PM   #15
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Some folks here hint at (or even say) 'dump her'. I'm wondering, since you had to persuade her to "dust off the bike" in the first place, what else you have in common -- 'cause it SURE AIN'T RIDING! Not that it's my business -- asking the question rhetorically. Personally, since I don't go for the 'fragile flower' kind of girl, this would not be an issue.

If she makes you uber-happy in every other area of life, then yes, buy a dose of patience (you'll NEED it); otherwise, pull out Paul Simon's list ("50 Ways to Leave Your Lover").
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Old 05-22-13, 04:12 PM   #16
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WABA(Washington Area Bicyclist Assoc) has classes for riding in traffic. Google to see if there's one in your area that does the same.
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Old 05-22-13, 05:29 PM   #17
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I've got to agree with the other who said go slow.

But I have a couple of ideas to add.

At least near me there are several streets with decent bike lanes, or in some cases wide right lanes with areas where parking is legal and close to never used. Such streets give a chance to ride a road with cars, but also with distance from those cars.

Also one can feel safer in a pack. I'm in the Los Angeles area and there is a beach bike path that runs from North of the Santa Monica Pier to Palos Verdes. Over 20 miles. There are at least 3 sections that dump onto the street. But if you ride it on a weekend you are apt to be in a pack on at least 2 of them (Especially Washington Blvd.) Something like that might help. (But do not surprise her with the street sections, avoid nasty surprises like the plague).

Thinking of the beach path brings up another issue. riding the beach is pleasant for most people. riding a city street or even a city path often is not all that nice until bitten by the biking bug. Also when I used to ride that path a bit I would drive to the beach and then park a half mile away, for free, and ride the bike path. I'm sure beach parking is $10 or more by now.

Try to find a route with at least some sections she really likes. The not so nice sections go so much better when you know there is a good part to come.
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Old 05-22-13, 08:22 PM   #18
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Down at the bottom of this page are five steps to building a bike habit. Sounds like she is still at step one. Don't push her. This is something that she needs to work through at her own pace.

http://bikeyface.com/2013/05/08/small-steps/

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Old 05-23-13, 09:29 AM   #19
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When I first started riding again as an adult, a littler over a year ago, I'd get pretty nervous when a car was behind me...and I'm known as a pretty ballsy guy. I'd schedule my rides for times when there was the least likelihood of encounters with cars. Then one day...I just didn't care anymore. She'll build confidence as she rides. I guess it worked to my favor though, that there are no shoulders or sidewalks here...so I had to ride with the cars, or not at all.... Having an alternative and using it, will likely make it take longer to get used to traffic.
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Old 05-23-13, 09:43 AM   #20
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The first collision with a car is the worst. She'll get over it with time.
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Old 05-25-13, 02:11 AM   #21
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Sometimes IM TOO SCARED TO RIDE ON THE STREET AND IM A DUDE! Totally serious. People are just so damn in yo face these days. He's in yo face...she's in yo face, yo dog in yo face, yo cat. God why! Get out my face yo! Totally not serious.
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Old 05-25-13, 09:36 AM   #22
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Smart girl. You should take a cue from her and pack the bikes off to the local MUP. bk
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Old 05-25-13, 11:12 AM   #23
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I'm with the GF on this one. I don't know about where you live, but on "my streets" we have texting drivers, eating drivers, stoned drivers, old and confused drivers, young and stupid drivers, etc, etc, etc - busy roads are no place for a bike IMHO.
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Old 05-25-13, 05:29 PM   #24
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When my wife first went from MUPs to the road, I rode with her, behind her, and off to the left of her wheel, which made cars give her a wide berth. Plus, I'd rather it be me that gets clipped, not her.

That was last year. Now she does 40 mile solo rides. And has the confidence to take the lane, when necessary.
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Old 05-25-13, 06:52 PM   #25
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I wasn't comfortable riding in traffic when I first started biking as an adult either. Now I'm an almost daily commuter for the past 4 years.

Things that helped:
Group rides (casual pace, casual clothes)
More riding time & bike handling experience gained
Better fitness so I felt able to go faster in traffic
Taking a Traffic Skills 101 class

I agree with everyone who said take it slow, take lots of low-traffic streets and MUPs at first. Good luck!
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