All about cycling in the Netherlands
That was asking for trouble, when I showed you the summer was hotter than usual this year. It started to rain from that very moment and it has rained for days on end for several weeks. Not 24/7, that would not be possible. On average it rains only 6.5% of the time in The Netherlands. But because on a typical day there would be shorter and longer showers, with only very short dry moments in between, it sure feels like rain for weeks on end.
Does that stop people cycling? Some yes, it is a bit more quiet on the streets, but on average most Dutch people are not scared away by a bit of rain. Many of them come prepared and the minute the clouds turn nasty you see signs of that preparation popping up everywhere. Umbrellas are the most obvious defence system and a lot of people carry one. But –especially older– women all of a sudden can be seen wearing little see-through rain caps over their hair. Plastic over coats are taken out of their small packages from the bottom of bags and some people even have entire rain suits or rain ponchos that they start to wear at the first signs of rain. Others just hope the next one won’t be so bad.
That moment it starts to rain you see the umbrellas popping open everywhere and the people in their rain gear cycle on with a content look on their faces. The ones that didn’t prepare pull their heads between their shoulders and lean forward. Desperately trying to shield their upper legs from the rain drops. Pointless of course, and they know it, but still you see people trying to be smaller in an effort to catch fewer rain drops. Many people start to ride a bit faster and others only put the hood up of their hoodies or jackets. When it really pours, people will stop and take cover. It usually only lasts for a few minutes, so it makes sense to wait it out. “The harder it rains, the shorter it lasts” is the proverbial wisdom. Nowadays you can check how long it will take on the surprisingly accurate rain radar on your smart phone. And many people do.
The moment the rain stops again, everybody continues their activities as if nothing happened and of course that is true; nothing really happened. Rain is natural, it is part of our lives and we are not really bothered by it, as we shouldn’t be.
I tried to film this phenomenon, and after a few days of fruitless waiting for rain at the time I could film it, I finally succeeded to catch a shower and everything around it, from beginning to end in the ʼs-Hertogenbosch city centre.
Video: What happens around a short rain shower in ʼs-Hertogenbosch. The still shows a typical Dutch umbrella that is more wind resistant and very well suited for cycling, because it has one shorter side.