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What do you say when ...

Old 04-22-19, 10:33 AM
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wphamilton
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What do you say when ...

How do you respond to people who tell you, "I'm worried about you out there on a bike with all those crazy drivers and drunks?"

My adult son, starting to get more into commuting, asked me this weekend. I've been commuting to the same office for coming up on 10 years, only about 1% of that driving, so everyone is used to me and I never hear that sort of thing. So I had to think for a moment.

My first thought was you don't have to say anything - it's none of their business and they don't know anything about it if it was. But maybe a young guy, 21, can't get by with that as easily and needs to respond to that (passive aggressive commentary). I settled on just shrug and say "works for me", and leave it at that unless they get obnoxious, although a snarky comeback is tempting.

How do you respond?
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Old 04-22-19, 10:54 AM
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Sometimes a loved one is just worried. Who asked your son this? A beloved family member who cares about him or some random stranger?

I had the same conversation with my wife this weekend.

Think of it from the other person's point of view if they don't ride in traffic themselves. It looks terrifying! Without knowing anything about riding in the road it looks super dangerous to a passive observer! And for obvious reasons!

You are only comfortable with it because you've done it for years. You know how to stay as safe as possible and you're willing to accept the remaining risk. Maybe explain what those things are that keep you safe are...how you see the traffic...how bright your flashing lights are....how you keep your distance form cars, etc. Sometimes people are scared because they don't understand. A little explaining can help a lot.

Of course you also have the busy body strangers you run into in the office building who feel like their comment of 'I would never risk my life riding a bike like that' has some kind of merit. For those people...just ignore them. I mean really...who cares what some random stranger thinks?
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Old 04-22-19, 11:40 AM
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I tell them I am doing what I like to do. I don't need a reason to do it other than I like it.
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Old 04-22-19, 11:49 AM
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"thank you. yes, I'm careful. thank you"

it is tiring tho

it might help, depending on how many ppl are coming to him, to let them know some of the safety precautions he uses
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Old 04-22-19, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Skipjacks View Post
Sometimes a loved one is just worried. Who asked your son this? A beloved family member who cares about him or some random stranger?
I mean people at his place of work. Or maybe random drivers also, he wasn't that specific.

Think of it from the other person's point of view if they don't ride in traffic themselves. It looks terrifying! Without knowing anything about riding in the road it looks super dangerous to a passive observer! And for obvious reasons!
The point I was pressing: that other person doesn't know anything about it, and it's not really their business. (not being a family member or loved one). While I grant that it's human nature to give advice over things they don't know about and have no experience with, my inclination is that you're under no obligation to even pretend that the advice has any value.

You are only comfortable with it because you've done it for years. You know how to stay as safe as possible and you're willing to accept the remaining risk.
Not really. It took about a year as I recall. Regarding explaining safety issues and tactics to them, in my experience that doesn't really have much impact. If you have to give them something, I'd rather give them just one thing to chew on, that tosses their world view a little. Maybe, life expectancy, including all the accidents and injuries, is improved for the cyclist compared to the driver. Or, you're driving in the middle of all those terrible drunk drivers and I'm out on the edge out of their way. Anything, but just a simple digestible comment.
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Old 04-22-19, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Rick View Post
I tell them I am doing what I like to do. I don't need a reason to do it other than I like it.
Yep. That was the second thing I advised him to say. And pretty much my stock answer to random people, since it's actually true and it doesn't invite any argument.
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Old 04-22-19, 12:00 PM
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I'm totally honest with them. There were 400 accident with cars last year on my 9mi2 island. It comes with the territory. 50 or so casualties and a few fatalities as well.

I continue with you don't give up something that you enjoy because someone else is causing a problem. That's a basic life lesson that should be instilled from birth.

Here's a recent life-altering incident:

Link to 1 APR incident

Last edited by acidfast7; 04-22-19 at 12:04 PM.
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Old 04-22-19, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
I mean people at his place of work. Or maybe random drivers also, he wasn't that specific.
In that case...smile and nod.

I mean...it's a random busy body. It's not worth arguing with them.
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Old 04-22-19, 12:18 PM
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I would say a cyclist has 1/5the risk of fatality from those crazy drivers than another driver has.
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Old 04-22-19, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
I'm totally honest with them. There were 400 accident with cars last year on my 9mi2 island. It comes with the territory. 50 or so casualties and a few fatalities as well.

I continue with you don't give up something that you enjoy because someone else is causing a problem. That's a basic life lesson that should be instilled from birth.

Here's a recent life-altering incident:

Link to 1 APR incident
The risk I take, for what I like to do. That's another good one.
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Old 04-22-19, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Skipjacks View Post
In that case...smile and nod.

I mean...it's a random busy body. It's not worth arguing with them.
That's what I do, but I'm old enough to not care at all what any random person thinks. And even less that what they think might bother them. 21 may have more issues in that regard though.
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Old 04-22-19, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
That's what I do, but I'm old enough to not care at all what any random person thinks. And even less that what they think might bother them. 21 may have more issues in that regard though.
Your son could also turn the tables if he's feeling snarky.

"Why yes, I have a higher chance of dying in a collision, but I also have a much lower chance of developing heart disease due to reducing my sedentary time in the car. Heart disease is the number one preventable killer, you know! Why do you add to that risk by sitting down in the car? That's too risky for me."
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Old 04-22-19, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
How do you respond to people who tell you, "I'm worried about you out there on a bike with all those crazy drivers and drunks?"...How do you respond?
I have two approaches, one for family and friends, another for those incredulous souls at work expressing amazement I ride 11 miles each way.

Family and Friends; I thank them for expressing their concern & show them my route to work on Strava. I don't take the most direct route. I talk them through my journey and the fact I've managed to work out a 70% non-road commute, I also confirm I adopt the approach that 'I have a family and I ride like I remember that fact". I add that my bike commute is quicker than my old bus and train commute (which has never failed to amaze people).

Incredulous souls at work; as above, and I add that although the commute is not the most exciting, it's exciting enough for me
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Old 04-22-19, 01:21 PM
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I show them my commute videos. That usually bores them into submission, and makes them realize there is very little drama.
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Old 04-22-19, 02:19 PM
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Tell them it's more dangerous walking and then point out all the stories where bad drivers jump the curb and smash into Walmart, McDonalds, and bus shelters.

Then ask why bad driving is acceptable that they would rather maintain bad drivers on the road than bicycles that do no harm.

Last edited by Daniel4; 04-22-19 at 02:51 PM.
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Old 04-22-19, 02:48 PM
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The only people at work I would want to put at ease are those who have some influence over my future employment here. Everyone else? They can think whatever they want.

My family deserves the conversation.
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Old 04-22-19, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
The risk I take, for what I like to do. That's another good one.
We take risks with everything we do. One thing I miss about living in Germany is the Autobahn. I would always see how fast people drive, or monitor how fast I would drive based on traffic.

On the whole, it was a very stressful experience compared to the UK and US as one has to be really aware as the speed difference are much greater.

I'm quite happy driving 120-130 with my family if the weather is good and there's little traffic. Other people would drive 130 all the time, which boggled mind. Often, with the same reasoning in this thread.

The reason I bring it is that it's easier to suss someone out by Autobahn driving than bike commuting as it was more frequent and people never questioned bike commuting in Frankfurt.
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Old 04-22-19, 03:17 PM
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A decent subset of my FB friends are high school classmates. I can tell which ones have kept active. They're the ones not complaining about chronic health issues.
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Old 04-22-19, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
How do you respond to people who tell you, "I'm worried about you out there on a bike with all those crazy drivers and drunks?"
"Don't worry. I just assume everyone will do the dumbest and most dangerous thing possible. I'm wrong 99.9% of the time, but I'm ready when I'm right. It's way safer and easier than people think."
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Old 04-22-19, 04:16 PM
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I fail to see what's wrong with someone expressing concern or showing interest about your safety? It's a good time to remind them there are so many idiots on the road you're glad they realize how vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians are, and thank them for being careful the next time they are behind the wheel?
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Old 04-22-19, 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by ChinookTx View Post
I fail to see what's wrong with someone expressing concern or showing interest about your safety? It's a good time to remind them there are so many idiots on the road you're glad they realize how vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians are, and thank them for being careful the next time they are behind the wheel?
If it doesn't bother you then I guess there's nothing wrong with it. What they're really saying though, is that you shouldn't be out there on the road, because you don't understand the danger of it. You're being foolish, dangerous, and maybe selfish. That just doesn't sit well with me.
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Old 04-22-19, 07:37 PM
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If a bull entered a China Shop, would you keep the bull in there and keep everybody out or try to get the bull out and let everybody else back in?

Why would anybody allow bad drivers to keep everybody else off the roads?
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Old 04-22-19, 08:18 PM
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+1 on the post on discussing routing info. Then talk about what things are like on the freeway: folks 10 ft off your bumper at 65mph

Last edited by randallr; 04-22-19 at 08:20 PM. Reason: add info
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Old 04-23-19, 04:28 AM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
If it doesn't bother you then I guess there's nothing wrong with it. What they're really saying though, is that you shouldn't be out there on the road, because you don't understand the danger of it. You're being foolish, dangerous, and maybe selfish. That just doesn't sit well with me.
If that's how you "read" it then sure, it's none of their business. I simply didn't read it that way. English only being my second language might have to do with it ;-)
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Old 04-23-19, 05:26 AM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Originally Posted by Skipjacks View Post
In that case...smile and nod.

I mean...it's a random busy body. It's not worth arguing with them.
That's what I do, but I'm old enough to not care at all what any random person thinks. And even less that what they think might bother them. 21 may have more issues in that regard though.
I'd give a short answer about health benefits outweighing risk of accidents. Then politely change the subject quickly.

Also I'd tell him to watch out for this coworker. Sounds like someone's trying to "get his number". I've ran into a few coworkers over the years at various companies that have some kind of pyschopathic tendency.
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