Need a Ride?

Since transportation cycling is a new concept for most people, we cyclists get a lot of questions.


What a super chic nerd would wear

The lovely T of the chic blog What Would a Nerd Wear asks how to deal with one of the most common questions:

Recently, I have been riding my bike to lots of events I would formerly have driven to. My friends seem confused by this, and every time we go out somewhere, they always offer to throw my bike in the back of their cars and drive me back home. And even when I politely decline, many continue to insist that I don’t need to ride in the dark (as if I hadn’t realized it would be dark when I set out in the first place).

Has this happened to you guys? What is a good way to respond to this? I don’t want to be rude, but I’m considering saying something more than “No thank you.” What do you say to people who are incredulous that you will ride your bike in the dark, AND (heaven forbid) you might actually like doing so?

This has happened to me a few times, although in Chicago more people I know take public transportation than drive. I have not developed the perfect answer. Usually I say something like, “Oh, no thanks – I’m looking forward to riding home!” For people who are worried about me riding in the dark, I make sure they know that my bike has lights and that night riding is the best because there is no traffic. If the person keeps insisting, I end it by telling them that my bike is way too big to fit in the car – trust me!

Who else gets these kinds of questions, and how do you answer politely but firmly?

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39 thoughts on “Need a Ride?

  1. E A says:

    I’ve had the offer many times, too! To be nice and have some more social time with my friend, I accepted the offer once and soon regretted it. First of all, it was too much of a pain to get the bike into and out of the car (I could have ridden home in that time) and then the car snagged on my foam handlebar grips and tore them. GRR!!! I have not forgiven the car for that yet.

    Needless to say, my bike and I continue to decline rides home. (Only when my mom visits do I rethink so I have the time with her — but usually I just make plans to meet her someplace.) :-)

  2. e says:

    “It’s a lovely night out”, and “I could use the exercise, but thanks for your offer” seem to work.

    • Trisha says:

      I like these answers — will have to add them to my repertoire! Though most of my friends are just fine with a “no thanks,” if I don’t need a ride (the case most of the time, unless I have leftovers to preserve!). It doesn’t bother me that they ask because I know it’s coming from a good place.

  3. Sarah says:

    I have accepted rides in the past and not felt good about it, and since then I have become more conscious of and more clear to myself that if I have bicycled somewhere, it is because I chose to – I do have a car so I really do have a choice (and do sometimes choose to drive – and when I do that it is an explicit choice as well, not a default behavior). When I choose to bike somewhere I accept all consequences of what that means, including getting myself back home on my own two wheels. Feeling very clear on this to myself helps me be firm if others question it, because I can state clearly that I want to bike and that I chose to do it. Since I truly enjoy it I can say sincerely that I’m looking forward to the ride!

  4. dukiebiddle says:

    I just nod, smile and say “Thanks, but I’ve been looking forward to getting away from you all night.” I then jump onto my bike and laugh maniacally as I pedal into that good night. After I do that it never seems to be an issue again.

  5. jodycb says:

    I wrote a cranky post at a while back about people worrying about me being safe, or being able to survive in the rain. People Who Care

    Mostly I just tell people “Thanks, but I really LIKE riding my bike. That’s why I do it.” Or that I need the exercise or any other thanks but no thanks style answer.

    Or… ask them if they wouldn’t have more fun riding home on your handlebars. (Though I’m sure that isn’t safe.) I bet they’d have a lot more fun than driving.

  6. anna says:

    Well, usually I say that cycling at night is actually pretty safe (one is more visible than in dawn) and quite faster (much faster than public transport anyhow). And fun, of course :).

  7. Steven Vance says:

    When declining the offer from people concerned about your safety, mention that you have lights and you know how to ride responsibly and have been doing it for years/months/weeks.

  8. cycler says:

    I tell people that it’s faster for me to ride home. And it normally is! I beat my boyfriend home all the time because while I can just zip to the door, he has to find parking!

  9. sara says:

    I don’t have much to add to folks’ comments above. It does help to ride cargo bikes b/c no one could simply throw those things into his/her car trunk!!!

    Sometimes I do think people are generally concerned and/or trying to help out, but I also have run into people whose comments strike me as clearly trying to tell me (passively aggressively) that I am being an unsafe parent cycling with my children (I should write a post on that one).

  10. Mamavee says:

    I had a friend try to put my bike in her car. It was my townie and she had a sedan. We were leaving the coffee shop and going back to my place and I let her try this b/c I felt badly about making her wait for me since she would drive to my house and I would bike.

    Obviously the bike did not fit and I biked home. I biked very fast and kept an eye out for her to pass me. However she never did. I honestly don’t know if she sat around trying to give me a head start or what, but I waited like 10 minutes for her at home which was a bummer b/c I had forgotten my purse in her car and I had to wait for her to pay the babysitter that day.

    My bike obviously can’t fit in any car now. But I don’t do night biking b/c I have no lights. When I do I will be unstoppable. But I am sure people will try to give me a ride a lot.

  11. Doug says:

    I used to get the question a lot. Even now when most people know I ride everywhere, all year. When people ask, “Can I give you a ride, it’s really raining hard out there?” I usually say, “No thanks, I got my bike.” That response always flusters them a bit. Then I watch them try to explain that they know I have my bike, that’s why they’re offering me a ride. I just keep refusing, making statements like, “I won’t melt”, or “Getting wet doesn’t hurt”. They finally give up and wish me a safe ride with that very concerned face. I thank them and ride on.

    • E A says:

      I’ve had those same conversations – often when it’s raining or cold outside. You’re right — the flustered look when I tell them I’ve got my bike is priceless!

  12. Carolyn says:

    That’s what I say, I am looking forward to the ride home!

  13. Erich says:

    I actually accept rides from time to time. I really don’t have anything against taking a ride when we’re going someplace after classes together, or if the weather is unexpectedly nasty, or anything like that. I guess I view my bike commuting as something I enjoy doing, and if it’s going to be a hassle, then why not accept a ride? Biking purely on principle doesn’t really hold up for me, I have to enjoy it too.

    And if I want to ride and someone tries to give me a lift? “No thanks, I’d rather bike!”

  14. dottie and all–thanks for the wonderful advice!! but i think i shall dukiebiddle’s suggestion and laugh maniacally while i ride off into the night.
    or maybe i could say, too, “those jeans are looking a little tight. you’re sure you don’t want to ride my bike home and burn a few calories?”

  15. Max says:

    Since I’ve been almost exclusively using the cargo bike, I often just turn the question to them, and ask if they would like a ride.

    It’s funny/sad how people don’t know what they’re missing, huh?

  16. pomocomo says:

    The only person who would care to ask me that question is usually riding the tandem with me…

  17. Mike says:

    If I were the one asking, I’d be inclined to assume the declining cyclist was just being polite… until, that is, they told me that putting the bike in a car inevitably rips the upholstery, scratches the trunk and otherwise damages the car. This might be all the room I need to believe the other protests and go on my way.

    For me, it seems every time I put my bike in a car, I create some derailleur or cosmetic issue. I’d rather walk it home than catch one more cable on a headrest.

  18. Doug D says:

    People often assume that I am too poor to have a car (I actually own one but never drive it in the city) and they offer to pick me up and drive me to and from the event.
    Fortunately I have a well deserved reputation for eating a lot. I really do need to burn the calories.
    I also have a cargo bike – but there is always someone with a pickup or van…

  19. I haven’t gotten that comment yet …I think because no one would want to attempt putting my monstrously heavy bicycle in their car : )

  20. Giffen says:

    No, thank you. Trust me, I’m fine, just like during all other 364 days of the year.

  21. Dean Peddle says:

    Man you guys are too uptight!!!! I decided to combat this differently and took this as another opportunity to buy another bike. So I purchased a fold up bike so I could take people up on their offers :)

    Just a few weeks ago I was riding in cold, windy rain home from work and some stranger pulled me over in their car. They got out and said “I’m a fellow cyclist, do you want a drive home.” My response was “Are you crazy….I love riding in this.” Of course while I was riding after this I thought to myself…what kind of cyclist is he if he didn’t enjoy this….as I know everyone on this blog does :)

    On a side note…how ironic that that whole week of riding was sunny and nice and that was the only day it rained and I enjoyed that ride the most.

  22. Jon says:

    When people ask me if I want a ride, I just point at my bike and say, “No, thanks. I already have one.”

  23. miss sarah says:

    I used to get this all the time!

    I’m very frank, so I’d just say no thanks at first. When I get the follow up I say something like, “I like riding, it means I can keep wearing size 0 and 2.” Also, the Pashley is not a friendly trunk bicycle. it’s too heavy and big so if they’re not backing down I just tell them to go look at my bike and they quickly realize it’s not going to work:)

    Once you train your friends and family to understand you’re not wavering on the topic, they stop asking eventually. Changing people’s perception of transportation takes time, so just keep being persistent!


  24. ChipSeal says:

    I tell the persistent that traveling in a car is way to risky behavior for me.

    To those who reply that “someone could run you over”, I say the very fact you can imagine that happening means you are a far too careless driver to travel with. <— That always ends it!

  25. Val says:

    Two of my favorites:
    I am riding home in southern New Mexico (temperature in the 90s F) and get caught in a sudden shower a mile and a half from home. I am drenched to the skin in under two seconds, and it is quite refreshing. A freind of mine is driving by, and pulls his pickup over on the shoulder in front of me to offer me a ride. It takes me several minutes, leaning on his truck and talking through the passenger window, to convince him that I am already as wet as I can possibly get, I am almost home, and that his uphollstery will get soaked if I get in – no benefit for anyone. He finally drives off, shaking his head, and I ride home in the dcownpour.
    More recently, I am riding up the long, steep hill to my house (1 mile, 9%) when a well intentioned stranger slows down next to me, rolls down the passenger window, and yells “Wanta ride up the hill?” I do a double take, look around to check my situation, and reply “I AM riding up the hill!”
    This has actually happened twice. Gotta love it.

  26. ksteinhoff says:

    1. My biking is safer than your driving. (with a smile)

    2. You don’t want me to get grease from my chain all over your upholstery, my chainrings would probably rip your seats, my bars stick up so high they might poke a hole in your ceiling, do you have the tools to take my wheels off?

    Of course, some of those questions may not be valid, but most drivers won’t know that.

    To be fair, I’ve offered some cyclists a ride before and had some great encounters. One fellow had just ended up a CA-FL tour, had gotten some bad directions for a place to stay and ended up at my house for two weeks.

  27. Beany says:

    In Philly I loved riding in the winter because I was always the only one not complaining about the cold. I used that as an explanation on why I didn’t want a ride, “riding keeps me warm.” It worked as an explanation.

    My other explanation is that I love eating, and have to ride to keep my hips from expanding.

  28. Tolfelemymn says:

    Fantastic, I did not know about that till now. Cheers!

  29. Littlewing says:

    I tell my girlfriends that I enjoy/need the exercise. As constant dieters they totally understand.

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