It may seem like an odd notion, but despite being a daily cyclist, and eschewing as much as possible the use of the car within the city, I do actually like cars. In fairness, I'm not alone amongst cyclists, but if you were to read the comments pages of any local newspaper website you'd be forgiven for thinking the world was black and white: you're either cyclist or a motorist.
But my other half hasn't fallen into the cycling camp for quite some time. The moment of stopping can be traced back very definitely a couple of years, when we'd had a successful summer with me chaperoning her to work in the mornings, and she occasionally waiting for me at the end of the working day, sometimes riding home herself. And then one fateful morning a boy racer in a Citroen Saxo tried (deliberately) to sideswipe me after he'd squeezed us out at a pinchpoint, and the unease she had on the roads manifested large. Commuting by bike was tucked away.
The problem is it meant most cycling was tucked away, as getting anywhere from our house in all directions pretty much necessitated some road riding, and the roads were either busy or fast or narrow or a combination of all three. Our old car twice-removed had a rear carrier which damaged the roof, and then a roof rack which did the same, but we at least stuck by that, and so takng the bikes places where we could cycle in peace was still possible; our old car once-removed, however, was declared a no roof-rack zone, and with a central exhaust couldn't mount a towbar for a rack there. We tried again with a rear carrier, and it put a big dent in the boot.
The cycling with my other half stopped. Save for some very very occasional trips from the front door when all other possible actions for the day had been declared undesirable. Something needed to be done. And so it was that our little car grew ever so slightly, and gained roof rails, onto which a roof rack could be attached without fear of damaging the roof itself. Fait accompli, the need to transport bikes making up around 80% of the reason for getting the new car, we were transported to three different locations in the first week of owning it, with the bikes aloft. Three locations where we could cycle for a good distance completely off-road (including two twenty-mile spins).
The hope is that by getting back into the habit there is once again a desire to cycle more. We've been here before, I first got her back onto a bike when we lived beside some truly superb off-road cycle paths. The confidence and handling skills are built there; and with those skills and confidence comes an ability to transfer, in time, onto the road. Now with the car we can start working on that again. There are plenty who will think this terrible, there's no reason confidence couldn't have been built on the roads themselves. But try telling that to a scared grown adult who had resisted all such attempts for more than two years already. This worked. The car has re-created a cyclist. Go figure.