Cycling in the hottest evening rush hour on record

What a Summer the one of 2019 is… The arctic is burning in an unprecedented way, there was a second heatwave in Europe, breaking records on two consecutive days and still there are people who deny humans are to blame for these extremes and climate change. Don’t I have anything positive to share this week? I just might.

Hot or not, people of all backgrounds and ages kept on cycling in ʼs-Hertogenbosch.
You can cycle in a very stylish way in any weather condition.

So, what is the good news? Well, not that it is really news, but the Dutch didn’t stop cycling. Not even when on 25 July records were broken in five western European countries, including The Netherlands where the new record was measured in the town of Gilze en Rijen, reaching an incredible 40.7C (105.3F). It was the first time ever that temperatures in The Netherlands reached that 40 degree mark. That had not happened since the official weather statistics started in 1901, but also not since the first uninterrupted measures took place from 1706 (in Zwanenburg and Utrecht/De Bilt). Now the temperature reached over 40 degrees in 5 of the 12 Dutch provinces on one single day. I had passed through Gilze en Rijen earlier that day on my way back from Brussels. The town is just about 35 kms from ʼs-Hertogenbosch where the local record was measured at 16:45 (4:45pm) at 39.9C or 103.82F!

Extreme temperatures in Europe on Thursday 25 July 2019. (Part of a map by NOAA, Public Domain)
Urban heat island map of ʼs-Hertogenbosch (with my additions) showing where the temperatures are relatively hotter than the surrounding countryside.

Since that time is right at the beginning of the evening rush hour I decided to look whether the Dutch, more precise; the people of ʼs-Hertogenbosch, would still keep on riding. Of course they did! It is the same as with rain and snow in the evening rush hour: if you went to work or school in the morning on your bicycle, you have to come back on that vehicle too of course. I filmed near the central station in a street with trees. According to the Dutch heat map that part of ʼs-Hertogenbosch is an area where the average heat is “only” 1.81 degrees Celsius higher than the average outside the city (thanks to those trees) although it is located right inside the hottest part of the city. Since the official temperature was measured in an area of the city that has a temperature of +1.1 on average, it is safe to say these people were cycling in a temperature of a little over 40 degrees Celsius, as if that was a normal thing to do.

It is quite obvious that not everyone came from work. The man on the left is violating two regulations. First, it is not allowed to not have any of your hands on the handlebars and second you cannot hold a mobile phone.
The only person to pass with a helmet on is forced to wear one by his employer, not surprising since the Australian part of this company is the master franchise for the Dutch stores. He looked very out of place with that plastic nonsense on his head. Not fastening the straps may be a protest.
The temperature cannot be seen from the video, but some people clearly displayed an attire that goes well with the hot weather. These two must have spent the afternoon at one of the local beaches with a cooler full of chilled drinks.

For its human cause, this was not a record to be proud of, but at least the continued cycling was behaviour to be proud of.

Cycling in the hottest evening rush hour on record.



6 thoughts on “Cycling in the hottest evening rush hour on record

    1. It’s unneeded in normal dutch traffic. You don’t wear a helmet walking down the street to the supermarket. You don’t wear elbow and knee protection when going for a run in the park. You also don’t need a helmet when cycling in dutch traffic. It just makes you look silly. If you’re out on your race bike or mountain bike, please do wear one, just like you might gear up when using skates. But cycling at normal speeds on a cycle lane is as dangerous as climbing the stairs in your own house.

  1. In the heat it is much more comfortable to go by bike than to drive in a car parked in a sunny place before. If you do not move too fast you can feel a cooling air movement. I enjoy biking at hot sunny days – even in Germany though the infrastructure is not very inviting and the general behaviour in traffic is unfortunately more aggressive.

    1. willy: it is, just recently. But since it has been illegal in cars for years, and i still see many, many drivers using their phones (and the recent increase in traffic-deaths seems very phone-related), i wouldn’t keep my hopes up. If it cannot be enforced in cars, i doubt it will be enforced for bikes.

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.