Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Montréal (Québec)
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
A few reflections. Take what you want of it:
I am not sure that "being solid and confident on the bike" can be taught. It can be mastered through practice, lots of hours on the bike, etc. As with any klind of exercise, practice in gradually more difficult conditions make you better at it. Still, at some point, a course like "Effective Cycling" would help her (and likely you) be more assertive in traffic, be more predictable, etc.
Giving the old bike works for some people, not for others. Providing the bike fits her, it may help her decide whether she prefers straight or dropped bars, a full racing position, etc.. But then, I know some women for whom the best way to turn them away from cycling (or any other thing) is to supply them with hand-me-downs. And when she goes for the new bike, even if she asks you or the sales people for advice, make sure she gets a bicycle that suits her style, not yours. Between a hybrid and a light-touring or loaded-touring bike – both being very good candidates for utility cycling –, she may prefer drop bars or a slightly more "racy" bicycle than yours or vice-versa.
How much of a jump is it for her to become carfree? You say there is good public transit, but does she have fixed hours? If not, how is the bus service at night? Long lonely waits in a dark and cold spot before the bus comes? Are there easy alternatives? Is calling a taxi an easy thing to do in your city? And what is the fare for a taxi ride back home from work or the store? Maybe both of you need to assess how much one or two taxi rides + a monthly bus pass cost, vs how much a car cost; even though a 30 $ taxi fare sounds steep, calculating the alternative does a lot to make it sound much cheaper. How about flex car programmes in your city?
Finally, depending on the loads to carry, time schedule, distance, etc., being car free is NOT the same as being a utilitarian cyclist. When I didn't have children in shcool and much more time for myself, I much preferred to walk 5 or 10 km (one way) to the office than to cycle it. It took me more time, but I could relax even more, look at curtains in the windows, etc., in a way I cannot do while cycling on busy streets.