My girlfriend and I have recently moved to London and she wants to get a bicycle. Her reason is more along the lines of personal freedom that you get with a bike. It is (very pointedly) not about the cost savings or environmental benefit. Also, we can't afford a car here.

The thing is, I find Londoners seem to all drive very aggressively compared to where we've lived before and I'm quite afraid that she'll end up in an accident. Moreover, the roads are narrow, full of heavy vehicles and bike lanes seems to just disappear and reappear at times. When it rains, the bike lane is almost always underwater near our place too. Every five minutes, there's an emergency vehicle going at a million miles an hour through all of this. It seems like a death wish to me.

I get that it's her life and her choice in the end but how do I convince her to not do it?

  • 2
    Have you discussed your concerns with her already? If so what was her reaction? – DaveG Nov 30 '18 at 14:15
  • 1
    She thinks I'm overstating the risk. That it's no worse in London than anywhere else. I disagree with that point but obviously it gets into statistics which can point both ways, etc. etc. – Albert Nov 30 '18 at 14:20
  • 3
    Does she understand your side of the argument? If yes, what interpersonal skill do you need help with? We can neither decide which side is correct, nor are we here to come up with more arguments for you. Unfortunately, 'How to make someone do X' is off topic here. We can help you bring your point across, but as I understand it she is already aware of the danger and decided to cycle to work anyway. – Kaspar Scherrer Nov 30 '18 at 14:57
  • 5
    I'm voting to close this because of the reasons mentioned in the comment above by @Cashbee. – avazula Nov 30 '18 at 15:27
  • 2
    Hi Albert! If you're still interested in editing your question here, we do have a meta post about "how to convince" questions that's relevant. Basically, while we can't make other people do things or give you points to argue (see help center), we could help with IPS things like "expressing my fears without getting into an argument" or "having a respectful conversation", for instance (and, if you've had some talks already, please do edit in how that went!). – Em C Nov 30 '18 at 16:32

Do not try to convince your girlfriend to not cycle to work. You likely won't convince her, and you might risk annoying her. Join her in campaigning for safer infrastructure instead.

I've always cycled to work and school, and I've cycled in London too. I found it not all that bad, not as bad as a typical English rural narrow hedgerowed country road at night, for example. I would hate not being able to cycle to work. Personally, I would be quite annoyed if someone told me not to cycle to work because of risks, in particular if it was a non-cyclist close to me. As a cyclist, it is up to me to judge the risks. I'm an adult, and I know very well when I find the situation too dangerous.

(I also find that it reeks of victim blaming to me to tell me to get off my bike due to a danger caused by non-cyclists — like advising people not to go to the ATM late at night or advising young women not to walk alone on the street in a miniskirt, it's not wrong as such, but I do find it a distraction from tackling the actual problem.)

As an alternative, I suggest that you together join campaigns for better and safer cycling infrastructure. In that case you are bonding with each other, rather than getting into arguments. Cycling infrastructure has improved a lot in recent years, but it has a long way to go yet before it's ready (in my personal opinion, it's not ready until all parents think their 9 year old child can safely cycle to school — The Netherlands may seem like a cycling walhalla to many cycling activists outside it, there's still plenty of safety campaigning going on there too). You'll have the tide with you in joining such a campaign.

  • 5
    I agree with the first part - the choice is indeed hers and everyone's risk perception/tolerance is different. However, I disagree with the rest. Imagine walking at night in a dangerous neighbourhood with a wallet full of cash. Sure you can campaign for better public safety and the blame for any crime that might occur would not be on you, etc. That doesn't change the fact that it's a bad idea to do it. – Albert Nov 30 '18 at 14:36
  • 2
    @Albert Maybe so. In the case of cycling, I think a critical mass of cyclists is important to pressure politicians into improving infrastructure. If too few people cycle, politics might say, why should we improve infrastructure, nobody is cycling anyway. It's like telling a pretty young woman to not walk outside alone at night in a miniskirt. Parents or friends have good reasons to tell her that, and it may not be wrong, but I think the focus needs to be on improving the circumstances such everybody can walk home from the ATM at night, cycle to work, or be safe however they're dressed. – gerrit Nov 30 '18 at 14:41
  • 2
    And you're asking this not on a site on politics, but on a site on interpersonal skills, and it would seem to me that seeking a route where you are allied with your girlfriend must be better for your relationship than a route where you are opposing sides of an argument. – gerrit Nov 30 '18 at 14:42
  • 1
    I should also add that our relationship is very good and it's not about conflict aversion. It's more about showing her a different point of view and opposing points of view are a very normal part of that. In any case, a campaign to raise safety and other long term things don't change the immediate decision to ride or not. (Also please don't take my comments the wrong way, I'm very grateful for your inputs and it does help me see the situation through another lens!) – Albert Nov 30 '18 at 14:51

Close relationship always demands few compromises from both sides. Respect for one likings and disliking also strengthen these relations. You have very valid reason to stop her to use cycle bcos you want to see her safe. You can share no of accidents took place daily due to conjested roads and also explain some side effects during rain while cycling. You can also suggest some economical alternates mode of traveling. Another convincing approach for her may your careful attitude and make her confident that how much important is her availability in your life.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.