Impending conversation with my wife

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brooksby
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Impending conversation with my wife

Postby brooksby » 22 May 2018, 9:01am

I started bike commuting seven years ago - a 50/50 mix of shared-use paths and roads, the majority of the roads being in my city centre. I don't do much recreational cycling as my wife works weekends and I have two children. I'm a normal clothes kind of rider, with an aluminium hybrid with a kickstand, a rack, and a pair of carradice panniers.

In all that time, I've been in a collision with another vehicle only once (doored by a car passenger), and have come off three times (two with black ice, one involving a dropped kerb that wasn't as dropped as I would have liked). In all of those, I've hurt wrists, arms, shins, but my head has been untouched.

Being a grown-up able to make grown-up decisions, having read blog posts, books, and other material, about a year ago I made the decision to stop wearing a helmet except if there was a risk of ice (and so a higher risk of my falling off). I didn't announce this as a fact to my non-cycling wife. I leave for work while she's wrangling the kids into school uniforms, so she's never noticed and it's never been a topic of discussion.

However, the other evening she was in the front garden when I came home:

"Where's your helmet?"
"Erm - on top of the wardrobe"
"Well, you should be wearing it!".

And then, this morning, as I was leaving:

"Where's your helmet?"
"On top of the wardrobe"
"You should be wearing it!"
"Why?"
"Because its dangerous, you cycle on the city roads, and its dangerous!"
"But I don't wear a helmet to go up a ladder and cut the hedge, that's probably just as dangerous"
"No, but how many people have you seen falling off a ladder? I've seen loads of people sprawled out in the road where they've come off a bike!"
"But I'm a cautious rider, I watch the road surface, and when I have come off, its never been my head that's hit the ground"
"Yes, but that's not the problem - the problem is the other people, you can't control them!"
"But if I get hit by a car, I don't believe a bike helmet is going to offer me much protection: that's not what they're designed for..."
"<expletive deleted>"

So, anyway, I suspect that there's a Serious Conversation waiting for me when I get home (yay!).

Can anyone point me at a good cribsheet for having these sorts of conversations with a non cycling wife who doesn't think you're able to make your own decisions?

reohn2
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Re: Impending conversation with my wife

Postby reohn2 » 22 May 2018, 9:07am

Tell her to stop nagging and show her the evidence you've taken the trouble to read for yourself.
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pete75
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Re: Impending conversation with my wife

Postby pete75 » 22 May 2018, 9:07am


broadway
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Re: Impending conversation with my wife

Postby broadway » 22 May 2018, 9:26am

reohn2 wrote:Tell her to stop nagging and show her the evidence you've taken the trouble to read for yourself.


That's what i did with my wife a few years ago, I'm still waiting for her to do it.

I'd also question how many people she's seen sprawled on the road after coming off on their bike, I can only remember one who skidded on wet leaves on a cycle path.

brooksby
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Re: Impending conversation with my wife

Postby brooksby » 22 May 2018, 9:46am

It's difficult, because I've known my wife for twenty five years and have never *ever* managed to change her mind on anything... She hasn't ridden a bike since she was a teenager: she's a regular motorist and has convinced herself that the roads are terrifyingly dangerous for cyclists.

It occurs to me that she's happy to drive her car on the roads even though it's old, and has no crumple zones, ABS, airbags, etc... I wonder if I could use that in a counter argument :D

(I suspect that I'll end up acting like a teenager, and wearing a helmet to leave the house and return to the house, but putting it in a pannier in between... :roll: )

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pjclinch
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Re: Impending conversation with my wife

Postby pjclinch » 22 May 2018, 9:55am

brooksby wrote:
So, anyway, I suspect that there's a Serious Conversation waiting for me when I get home (yay!).

Can anyone point me at a good cribsheet for having these sorts of conversations with a non cycling wife who doesn't think you're able to make your own decisions?


I would say probably the best one I've seen is the Annex of Tim Gill's Cycling and Children and Young People.
It's a consultancy report for a children's charity written by a man who points out he wears a helmet himself so you can be reasonably confident it isn't the work of some anti-helmet zealot. And despite the author wearing one himself the broad conclusion is,
the annex to this paper argues that the case has not yet been convincingly made for the compulsory use or promotion of cycle helmets.

Do ponder about there not being a case for even promoting helmets... That's on the back of ~ 20 pages of lucidly written analysis calling in references from all sides and finding that there really isn't a safe conclusion.

More recently Ben Goldacre and David Spiegelhalter co-wrote a BMJ editorial which makes the point that it's not nearly as simple as many people seem to think.

It's also worth looking at the chapter If Bike Helmets are the Answer, you're Asking the Wrong Question in Peter Walker's "Bike Nation".

If your wife really fancies seeing some serious head injuries, if your local A&E department is representative almost half of their custom for those will come from motor vehicle crashes. The next biggest block from trips and falls (including, as you note, from ladders but more commonly down stairs) That we don't wear protective head gear for those isn't because they're safe, but because we feel they're safe enough not to bother. In countries with a cycling culture cycling is seen as safe enough not to bother, even though it's certainly still possible to fall off a bike there in the sort of no-motor-vehicle-involved accident that a cycle helmet is designed and specced for. So as Goldacre and Spiegelhalter note, it's probably more to do with psychology and culture than any actual safety benefit (which they suggest is "too modest to capture").

Pete.
Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...

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Wanlock Dod
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Re: Impending conversation with my wife

Postby Wanlock Dod » 22 May 2018, 10:04am

brooksby wrote:...... She hasn't ridden a bike since she was a teenager: she's a regular motorist and has convinced herself that the roads are terrifyingly dangerous for cyclists....

You might want to ask her where she thinks the danger is coming from, then having identified the principal source of danger make an objective assessment of whether or not the proposed safety measures are likely to be capable of mitigating the risk.

As an aside it strikes me that she has already, and quite rightly, identified that cycle helmets are not capable of making cycling safer otherwise she would probably be happy cycling, given the appropriate headgear of course.

Vorpal
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Re: Impending conversation with my wife

Postby Vorpal » 22 May 2018, 10:08am

The car she drives is far worse for your health than any lack of a helmet.

Tell her that you will wear a helmet when she stops driving everywhere.
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reohn2
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Re: Impending conversation with my wife

Postby reohn2 » 22 May 2018, 10:14am

brooksby wrote:........(I suspect that I'll end up acting like a teenager, and wearing a helmet to leave the house and return to the house, but putting it in a pannier in between... :roll: )

Problem solved :? .
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NATURAL ANKLING
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Re: Impending conversation with my wife

Postby NATURAL ANKLING » 22 May 2018, 10:30am

Hi,
Trouble with lid posts is that you will be outnumbered by the anti lid wearing brigade.

I would say its a personal thing, its your decision.

I fell on my head once...........in fifty years on cycling...........have had many accident's in the past mostly motorcycles, one intensive care (you know the shots of a nurse leaning over you with the question) many off road on my own cycling.

It was unexpected.
On personal level I am glad I was wearing my lid.

If you supply all the evidence you can to your wife she will be confused and probably give in trying to understand, as most sane person would.

Ant attempt to justify your personal decision in leaning towards a pro lid wearer.................will be met with short thrift...............worse will follow.

Do your own thing and get on with it.

The trouble with statistics is that it involves probability.............................many have won the loto, but whats your probability..........even if you can quote a figure, it does not make winning a certainty..........good luck.
NA Thinks Just End 2 End Return + Bivvy
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Please forgive the poor Grammar I blame it on my mobile and phat thinkers.

thirdcrank
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Re: Impending conversation with my wife

Postby thirdcrank » 22 May 2018, 10:43am

I think that helmets are only incidental to this. Your wife is worried about your safety and it's immaterial whether the worries are rational or not.

It was only relatively recently that my wife mentioned how worried she has been over the years. One thing she pointed out was the number of times I returned from a ride spitting feathers about some idiot who had nearly wiped me out. etc.

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horizon
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Re: Impending conversation with my wife

Postby horizon » 22 May 2018, 11:17am

It's a good discussion as it highlights a key issue: what to do when social pressure has reached your nearest and dearest. I've faced it from a large number of friends and relatives.

In the case of your wife I think it's appropriate at one level to ask for a favour in return (she won't see it like that). She may rapidly withdraw her concerns.

At another level you might like to start talking about risk and fear and how that applies to a partner - it's a heavy topic but an interesting one.

I particularly liked this from pjclinch:

That we don't wear protective head gear for those [other activities] isn't because they're safe, but because we feel they're safe enough not to bother.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

martinn
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Re: Impending conversation with my wife

Postby martinn » 22 May 2018, 12:34pm

When I had this question from my wife, i thought about a number of options open to me

What I decided in the end was reason and evidence, however I was using her own argument that I had lost about the birth of our first child, Home Vs Hospital.
Being medical I promptly told my wife she was nuts to want a home birth and that she should have it in hospital where its safer, and obviously I was going to prove this.
I failed, for interest only, essentially all the papers written from a pro hospital birth perspective showed hospital birth was safer and those written from the other perspective came to a contrary position.

I would try to understand what her fears are, and ask for evidence and inform her that if she can find conclusive evidence that wearing a helmet will save your life, then you will wear one.
She might also be worried about the influence that you might have on your children.

+1 for getting her to read Gill and the BMJ editorial, you might ask her to read these papers BEFORE you discuss anything. Maybe, just maybe she will understand and accept that you have thought about it carefully and read the evidence.... or not as the case maybe.

Personally I have 4 children, none of them wear helmets, (they do have them and could wear them if they wanted to) and nor does my wife. We all ride, and the school run is normal pedal powered.

Hope that you can have a reasoned discussion when you get home.

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mjr
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Re: Impending conversation with my wife

Postby mjr » 22 May 2018, 12:45pm

brooksby wrote:[...] So, anyway, I suspect that there's a Serious Conversation waiting for me when I get home (yay!).

Can anyone point me at a good cribsheet for having these sorts of conversations with a non cycling wife who doesn't think you're able to make your own decisions?

Some great ones are mentioned already but I also suggest https://www.cyclinguk.org/campaigning/v ... le-helmets and humbly offer my reasons at http://mjr.towers.org.uk/proj/cyclynn/helmets

Personally, I was lucky that I had tried using a helmet and suffered neck pain as a result (OK, not that lucky!), so there wasn't much objection when I stopped - a certainty of me complaining about my neck and possibly stopping cycling with all the consequential health problems (cycling helps keep my illness in check) obviously outweighed a tiny chance of impact protection.

I'm not comfortable with one relative who keeps using one despite what we now know about how pathetic current ones are - but one of theirs probably did protect them years ago in a freak accident on a lethal cycleway (literally lethal - someone died on it before it was corrected). They don't use it always and we mostly leave each other to make our own decisions, so I guess I just leave it for now. I'll feel awful if they get hurt by theirs, though.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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mjr
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Re: Impending conversation with my wife

Postby mjr » 22 May 2018, 12:57pm

brooksby wrote:It's difficult, because I've known my wife for twenty five years and have never *ever* managed to change her mind on anything... She hasn't ridden a bike since she was a teenager: she's a regular motorist and has convinced herself that the roads are terrifyingly dangerous for cyclists.

It occurs to me that she's happy to drive her car on the roads even though it's old, and has no crumple zones, ABS, airbags, etc... I wonder if I could use that in a counter argument :D

(I suspect that I'll end up acting like a teenager, and wearing a helmet to leave the house and return to the house, but putting it in a pannier in between... :roll: )

In reverse order:
1. I think wearing only for leaving and returning is pretty much lying to her and even if it isn't, there's likely to be trouble if you are spotted not wearing elsewhere, plus it confirms her view of what's right and might encourage her to promote lids to others which is really unhelpful for public health - even if this all ends up as a long-running dispute, please accept my thanks for distracting her :lol: ;
2. the roads aren't that dangerous for cycling but they do contain dangers and it sounds like your wife may be part of the problem ;-) ;
3. do you need to change her mind? Doesn't she respect you enough to let you make your own decisions about your own safety? If she insisted it's safer to carry knives with your hand wrapped around the blade, would you? (It's not - they should be sheathed if that sharp, else carried by the handle, blade pointing backwards and down, ideally arm away from the body - but I was once told to carry knives in the same way as scissors!)
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
All the above is CC-By-SA and no other implied copyright license to Cycle magazine.