Rolling in the rain

Rain! We almost need to apologize when we draw attention to it nowadays, because, as you know, It Almost Never Rains! But… as will become clear from this post, it does rain sometimes! The past week was a week with some very wet days. It also rained during the morning rush hours. But everybody still had to get to work and school and so I pointed my camera at all those brave people who just kept on cycling as they always do. Perhaps they dressed up a little different than they usually do and perhaps they also looked a little less happy than they usually do on their bicycles, but at least they were still there.

So it rains, so what? You need to ge to work, don't you?
So it rains, so what? You need to get to work, don’t you?

It is winter now, so we would have liked it to look a bit more like winter, I certainly would, but there was nothing like winter so far. After last December was the first ever December on record without temperatures dropping under the freezing point, January hasn’t been very winterlike either. There was some snow and ice in the north of The Netherlands in the first month of this year, but nothing like that where I live and work. Winter isn’t over though, we could still get something. Last winter, first snow was on the 27th of December 2014, but that can sometimes also only be on the 3rd of February, such as in 2012.

More autumn than winter...
More autumn than winter…
These are still temporary cycle crossings. The poles of the signals sit in old oil-drums filled with concrete.
These cycle crossings are still temporary. The poles of the signals sit in old oil-drums filled with concrete.

Back to that wet morning rush hour. I filmed it on the five new bridges over the also new city moat of Utrecht. The bridges may be ready for the most part. The traffic situation in the area is far from finished. That means the flows of people cycling are still not where they will be in the end-situation, leading to very crowded areas that will be less crowed in future and areas with a lot less cycling that will see more cycling in future. Even without the proposed solution for such busy cycleways which I showed you last week. The signals are also still in temporary traffic light installations. Most of the poles are in concrete filled old oil drums. It will take a lot of time before the bus lanes will be in their final location, and finishing the new buildings here will also take a few years more, so the people of Utrecht need to have a lot more patience before everything is finalised here. Some finishing touches are ready now: the city was busy putting in stairs to the waterside path. I hope the last of the five bridges, which is a bridge for cycling, could be opened soon too. It would disperse the flows of cycling a bit more and it would give you more options to go around the flow of buses at this location.

Cycling in the morning rush hour in the rain, this week’s video.

The latest aerial picture from just one month ago shows the actual situation is still far away from the renderings of how everything will be. The five bridges are there but only one of the three water branches is really finished. Especially in the foreground, what should become a small park with a bus lane, it is still a mess. The bus lane makes an extra curve where the water should be. There are thousands of bicycles parked in what should become green. It will take years before that can be changed. The city is building the largest bicycle parking garage in the world for those bicycles. That will take another two years to be finished. Only when those bicycles are gone the bus lane can be relocated and the last branch of the water can be dug. The water at the top right of the picture is almost finished. The people of Utrecht hope to sit on a terrace under the parasols (that can be seen on the rendering) this coming summer!

Rendering of the five bridges over the new water near Vredenburg Utrecht. These bridges are refered to as the Vredenburgknoop (Vredenburg knot)
Rendering of the five bridges over the new water near Vredenburg Utrecht. These bridges are refered to as the Vredenburgknoop (Vredenburg knot).
Late December 2015 the situation doesn't quite look like the rendering yet. Especially in the foreground a lot of work still has to be done. Picture
Late December 2015; the situation doesn’t quite look like the rendering yet. Especially in the foreground a lot of work still has to be done. Picture Skyscrapercity
Compared to the situation in 2009 the situation has already changed a lot. Picture by CU2030 the red circles indicate trees that have since been removed. Many new trees have already been planted but they will need time to grow.
Compared to 2009 the situation has already changed a lot. At that time the motorway was still there! The red circles indicate trees which have since been removed for the building activities. Many new trees have already been planted, but they will need time to grow. Picture by CU2030.


January 2016: Cycling in the rain on the new bridge over the new water.
The camera suffered a lot to get this week’s images to you…






15 thoughts on “Rolling in the rain

  1. I actually love riding in the rain, although it would probably be a different story during rush hour. Courtesy during these times will definitely go a long way.

    1. Since I ride my bike almost everyday, I ride often in inclement weather (rain, snow, etc.). But I do have my “No-go” days. If the wind is too strong, no go. Too deep of snow, no go. Rain turning the street into a river, no go. So I forgive myself if I miss a day or two. I just cycle as soon as I can with renewed vigor!

  2. Well done. Another great video. At time 3:06 and 3:11, there are folding bicycles being shown. How common are these bicycles in the Netherlands? Do most owners use them while riding a bus or train and then cycle to their work and back home. Since I work on a closed campus, I use mine to cycle from place to place and from meeting to meeting. I can then fold it up and put it inside my relatively small office.

    1. They are quite common (less common than bakfietsen or racefietsen, more common than recumbent bikes, according to my heavily biased observations.

      They are allowed for free on the train, where taking other bicycles is expensive at best, and disallowed during peak hours in most cases. They might be allowed on the bus as well, but taking them on a bus is very uncommon. I think that’s their primary use case.

      However, many people commuting by train will buy a cheap bicycle and leave that parked at their destination train station.

      Taking bicycles inside, even foldable ones, is usually frowned upon.

      1. Jan,

        Very good. Thanks for the reply. I am very interested in learning about other places, peoples, and cultures. How others solve their transportation needs.

        -Doug T.

  3. Not as controversial a subject as last week. 🙂

    Riding practically every day I encounter all types of weather. The rain like the one in your video is not so bad. If you’re already riding and warmed up it can be invigorating. It’s not so fun to start out in it cold though. In Atlanta, we have hard downpours. You have to take your glasses off in order to see. The bicycle can hydroplane just like a car.

    Riding while it’s sleeting is not so bad, although it can sting a little. Hail, on the other hand, hurts! You have to seek shelter from the hail. And of course lightning is too dangerous to ride in. In hot weather, thunderheads here can boil up quickly and produce hail and lightning. Time to get out of the elements. I don’t know if that’s much of an issue there or not.

    Very nice video. Good to see the Dutch going about life as usual!

    When I get caught in the rain, I optimistically tell people that I won’t have to take a shower this week. 🙂

  4. I am not in NL, but Croatia and i take my little kid (5y old) to kindergarten on my bike. If it’s raining she is wearing her raincoat and rubber boots :). And i have a raincover, you know, like a poncho :D.
    The same way i transported my 2 (now older) boys to kindergarten.

  5. Why no one is carrying a baby/toddler? What would one do if you have to carry your baby to the kindergarten and then head to work, but it’s raining?

    Also, it’s interesting that there isn’t an “standard” solution to riding with rain, but a wide array of arrangements (an umbrella, a coat, a water cape, just get wet, etc).

    1. Kindergartens and schools in a Dutch city like this one tend to be close to home in residential areas. This video consists of mostly students and people going to work or uni. You’re probably just not likely to find them in this area at rush hour, even more so because this is filmed near the train station. Having grown up in a densely populated city in NL myself, my school and kindergarten were no more than 500 meters from my house.

  6. You mentioned a couple times that bus routes have moved away from some locations and onto others. What process was that? My city is doing a transit system reorganization and it might involve not using a “bus stop at most 400 metres from every home and business” ideology. I know that buses do not belong in most residential areas, and if they run along straighter arteries, they are much better bus routes. So if someone can explain the process, that would be awesome.

    1. The whole area is getting redesigned, and part of that is moving the bus routes and bus stops. Nothing special about buses, it’s exactly the same process as the one in which some cyclepaths are removed and others built.

  7. I know you Mark don’t like the idea of helmets, except on brommers and maybe used when racing, and the handlebar cam doesn’t provide for a very stable video, but how about attaching a sweatband around your forhead or wrist, and fastening a camera to that? Or you could use the handlebar attachment and use a spring to act like a shock absorber. That could work quite nicely.

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