You are not made of sugar…

Billet en français

You won’t melt in the rain… That is not the answer you want to hear as a teenager when you complain to your mother about having to cycle to school in the rain. And yet that is exactly the answer generations of Dutch mothers have been giving their children. It shows. Whenever it rains you can see groups of children cycling to and from school in the Netherlands just like any other day.

A group of young people returning from school on their bicycles in the rain in Tilburg.

I had to think about this when I had to do an errand in Tilburg, about 25 kilometres south-west of my hometown ʼs-Hertogenbosch. This was on a Friday afternoon in mid-December (the 13th). It was 5.3 degrees and it had been raining all day long. According to the weather service for a total of 8.5 hours and there had been 7.4mm of rain. When I cycled back to the station I noticed many young people coming back from school. They were cycling in the rain, often in groups, just like I was. But there were not only children, many elderly, doing some shopping in town, rode just as well, often in rain gear. When you cycle as transportation you don’t stop doing that because of a bit of bad weather. You just wear appropriate rain gear. I found myself on the Netherlands’ first modern cycle route that had been built in Tilburg as part of a national experiment in the late 1970s. I have made a video and written a blog post about this route before.

The detour I took to show you what it is like to cycle in the rain.

To show you what it is like to cycle this excellent cycle route in the rain I decided to do a little extra loop and filmed the people I saw passing by. The video and this blog post show you what it is like to cycle in the rain in the Netherlands. Really not so very different from a dry day. At the end of the route I passed a tunnel that I had also shown you before. I decided to go through that tunnel as well. The lights art work was already working, but because it was not really dark yet that is not so visible.

The “rain radar” for the exact moment of filming the ride in Tilburg. As you can see, most of the Netherlands is wet at that time.

Enjoy the pictures and the video. Cycling in the rain, it really isn’t that bad.

There weren’t just school children underway. This person wears a rain suit with a cape to be able to cycle in the rain as he always does.
Most of the people cycling were younger though. It is good that the modern bicycles have lights that switch on automatically. You can see that the boy on the right is already cycling with his lights on in this darker weather. You wouldn’t do that so quickly when you had to switch them on manually.
This short stretch of the route is a street where cars and bicycles share the road. The brick surface indicates that it is a 30km/h zone and obviously there are more people cycling here than there are cars.
Also in the city centre these streets are part of a 30km/h zone. That means the basic rules of priority apply. The cyclists coming from the right (for the driver on the left hand side) therefore have priority over that car driver. Of course the driver obeys the traffic rules and lets the cyclists go first.
A part of the route goes through the pedestrianised zone. At this location cycling is guest in space for walking Note the three ladies on the left, parking their bicycles while having a friendly chat. Rain? What rain?
The church clock shows that it is 14:35 (2:35pm). I filmed this on Friday 13th of December 2019.
This bigger road in the centre has one way cycle tracks on either side. The travelators on the right hand side give access to an underground public bicycle parking facility. The facility is especially for people who want to go shopping in this area during the day, or maybe they want to visit one of the many bars and restaurants at night.
This bi-directional cycle way is really wet. There is a film of water on top of it. But as the man demonstrates, that is absolutely no problem when you dress up right.
This is an underpass to get to the other side of the railway tracks near the station of Tilburg. In the wall an artwork of lights is giving the tunnel a different appearance depending on the changing colours in the wall. I wrote a blog post about this underpass before.
The underpass connects to an area where you cycle through some buildings.
This area is still very much under reconstruction. A temporary road for the work traffic was constructed with a traffic light controlled crossing. Fortunately it was green for cycling by default. Only when a lorry has to pass the light changes.
The street in front of the station has changed. It has become a one-way street for motor traffic but it is still two-ways for cycling. But that cyclist should not be cycling there. She should have been on the other side of the street on the one-way cycle path there. That people do not do that is reason for cities like Utrecht to offer two-way cycle tracks on either side of the road. Rather than forbidding something people will keep on doing you can better make their behaviour safe.
The end of the route at the station of Tilburg. The clock shows it is almost 14:45 (2:45pm). I only filmed a fraction longer than the time the video lasts, about ten minutes. I only had to stop sometimes to whipe the lens clean…

This week’s video: some cycling in the rain in Tilburg.

2 thoughts on “You are not made of sugar…

  1. I live 4 km from my work, 12 minutes cycling. I always carry rain gear in my panniers. I always wear boots that keep my feet and ankles dry. Sure, my gloves get wet, but I can dry them.

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