Rush hour in the rain

Even though it doesn’t rain quite so much as some people think, we do have rainy days in The Netherlands. So what do you do if you cycle on any other day: right, you just continue cycling anyway. It is way too much hassle to think of an alternative to get to work or to your other activities on a rainy day. So you just pull your jacket’s zipper a bit higher, you get out your umbrella or … for those who come really prepared: you put on your rain suit. And then it is just go as usual.

In a rain coat or holding an umbrella. People have to return home after work the same way they came. So if it rains in the afternoon… tough luck.

I positioned myself on Vredenburg in Utrecht on one such a rainy afternoon. A street where you can count 577 people cycling in just 15 minutes, outside rush hour. I was there just after 5 o’clock, so really rush hour. And I just recorded all the people passing by in about 10 minutes. Every minute or so there was another wave of people cycling that passed me by. They were clustered because of a traffic light. Even though that is only red for less than a minute, the number of cyclists in this street (over 20,000 per day) makes that the group for every green cycle is then enormous! It was like watching the waves at the beach. Every wave is the same and yet very different. To see the tiny differences you just can’t stop watching… it’s simply fascinating.

I think the map justifies calling this a rainy day...
I think the map justifies calling this a rainy day…
Is that a coincidence to have a rain suit that goes so wonderfully well, colour-wise, with that bicycle?
That’s the problem with these hoods. The wind gets in them and there’s always the risk they get blown off your head. So hold on!
Two girls on one bike, holding one umbrella each, equals two umbrellas.
What are you looking at? It keeps me, dry doesn’t it?
In between two green phases it was a lot less busy. So it sometimes pays off to ride a bit slower than the rest.

This week’s video: Riding in the Rain

28 thoughts on “Rush hour in the rain

  1. “.. it doesn’t rain quite so much as some people think…”

    It rains enough! I am a veteran of The Royal Regiment of Canada. According to the Regimental War Diary, every single day in April 1945 it rained. In the Battle of Groningen, The Regiment fought through the city in the rain.

    To this very day it has become a proverbial saying in The Regiment. Saying “the weather is very Dutch today,” means it is raining.

  2. Studded tyres would be a rather uncomfortable ride I think.

    It’s not actually that hard to not fall over even if frozen snow makes the bike path rather slippery. However, on bike paths that can mean that tyre tracks get frozen too and cycling over those is about as tricky as cycling over tram tracks :-/

    Happily I’ve only had to endure that once (a -20C day with two 11km trips to and from school back in the 90s).

  3. Today was a day lik you described. Beautiful weather in the morning and rain in the late afternoon. So, a rain jacket and then on my bike! Well, it is what it is ;-).
    I could have gone by car or by train, but why would I? It is only 11.5 km through beautiful countryside. And when I’m home, a shower and everything is forgotten.

  4. Today i driven to work with my wife. +3° C. Thick fog. My wife wore nice boots with heels 🙂 and a skirt. The more you drive the less you feel cold.

    On my way between two ciites the most wearing a helmet like me. Because you don’t feel save at this ways. Typical car cities are ugly and dangerous.

    Thanks for that video, it is a kind of meditation.

  5. I have to ask, seeing more and more footage of Dutch people riding bikes:

    At ‘rush hour’ it seems to get pretty congested. One of the reasons I ride a bike in the UK is that it allows me to get around and past all the congested motor traffic (something I appreciate more on the handful of times a year that I have to come into work in a car).

    So – if everyone else was riding a bike, does it reach a point where any speed advantages are lost because the roads are too congested with bikes instead of motor vehicles?

    (Have to also admit, the first time I went on a mass ride – Bristol’s Biggest Bike Ride – I actually found being that close to so many people on bikes riding in the same direction a little scary…).

    1. Well, during rush hour you can’t go as fast as during other times. Sometimes you can overtake other people, but not as much as during other hours of the day.
      But the general thinking in the Netherlands is, what if all those people would drive an old car, think of the pollution and the traffic jams, it would be even slower.

    2. They ride slower, yes (they’re going faster than you might think though, because of the camera angle). But the traffic always spreads a bit after a traffic light, and there practically never is any standing still for no reason (like with cars).

    3. The video shows one of the busiest bike routes in the western world, on most bike routes the crush is a little less extreme and you can generally overtake whenever you want 🙂

    4. Bicycles will still move more people than cars for the same amount of space, even when slowed from congestion they continue to make more efficient use of the space. Also the bicycle routes are typically a more direct journey in The Netherlands to further discourage car use in the densely populated areas.

  6. Here in BC Canada, I don’t mind the rain. It was starting to get a little cold in December, below freezing, but the rain clouds warmed things back up again. My $7 thrift store nylon rain jacket does a great job. I also think our rain is a bit heavier then what was pictured in the video above, though it is a rain forest climate here.

  7. Question about an actual Dutch lifestyle here: How often do you Mark drive, and on the occasions you do, what would inspire you to do that? Excluding journeys to relatively uncivilized roads where driving is a necessity among the urban areas in Detroit with no sidewalk, no bicycle paths and 4 lanes per direction lanes for motor traffic?

    1. Some rain jackets are designed to fit over and around a helmet without slipping off, mostly mountaineering jackets but some cycling jackets too.

    1. -10C at night time has happend only a couple of times in the last 10 years, and I’ve never seen -10C during the day. So I guess it isn’t a problem with the current climate.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.