Riding in the Rotterdam rain (again)

Almost every time images of Dutch people cycling are published in some form, someone will comment that it looks great, but then ask the question: “But what happens when it rains?” Well yes, it does rain in the Netherlands, but not as often as people seem to think. Let’s look (again) at what happens in the rain in this week’s post and video. Spoiler alert: we keep on cycling.

billet en français

Some people only threw their hood up. It is most important that your upper body stays dry. Jeans will dry.
Others wore a full rain suit. Waterproof trousers and a waterproof coat that you wear over your normal clothes.

Recently user @urbanthoughts11 showed a short excerpt of a video of cycling in Utrecht on Twitter. It was a clip from a video called “Stroming” (steaming or flowing) from the YouTube channel Small places, showing the flow of cyclists in Utrecht, admittedly in very good weather. Inevitably someone (who does describe himself as grumpy) posed the question:

Interesting. However what happens when it’s raining…[…] It’s not the 1950’s anymore. Pure propaganda. I’m surprised there were no unicorns in shot.

That we even have a cycling culture seems to surprise some expats living in the Netherlands:

“seriously, in a country where it rains so much it surprises me that the bike is such a popular mode of transport. […] During a particularly heavy rainfall it can seem as though the entire country is submerged under an inch of water. And no good can come of a large puddle of water and an exposed cyclist. Whether it’s by the splashback from your own tyres or the huge spray generated by a mean-spirited motorist, you’re going to get wet.”

This person did try to keep the upper body warm and dry but the bottom half got less attention. Some people wore their face masks. They do keep you warm in winter they don’t so much keep you dry.
A very Dutch sight. Riding in the rain to get some groceries. In a full rain suit and with two plastic bags from Albert Heijn dangling from the handlebars.

Another person asked the question on a forum:

How do people in the Netherlands ride bicycles to work during winter or rainy weather?

A Dutch person rightfully answered:

The same way they do on a sunny day; they sit on the seat and push the pedals. The only difference is in the clothes 😉

Indeed, you can dress for rain: there are lots of types of rain wear to be had, easily at every bike shop but also in department stores. Another option is simply let your clothes dry again.

So it rains, but what if you meet a friend? You got to exchange the latest news and it is only water anyway.
It was raining heavily that day and for hours on end.

A company selling office supplies wrote a blog post about cycling to work in the rain. They studied weather records and had a little survey of their own. The result:

Although people don’t like rain, our investigation shows that 4 out of 5 people who generally cycle to work are not stopped by it. Despite the rain they still take their bicycles. Most will opt to ride 5 to 10 minutes later to wait for the rain to pass. And why not? Of the respondents 73% states that their employer is understanding when they are a little later for work due to the weather circumstances.

This is an interesting observation. Since so many of the Dutch cycle we are all in this together. Nobody bats an eye when people walk around in wet trousers or a wet skirt on a rainy day, or when they step into a meeting with rain dripping from their hair. That is easily accepted when half the people in the office walk around like that.

The Dutch and their umbrellas while cycling. Also a typical sight.
This woman is much better protected against the rain than the people holding umbrellas.

The company also studied historic weather records, which unveiled some interesting stats.

Summer is the wettest season

Wednesday is the least wet working day

It rains least between 9am and 10am

That last bit of information resonated with me. Indeed, whenever I got wet riding to work in the morning, I would still be sitting at my desk with my trousers all wet and the rain would always stop. I now know that feeling is right!

Not everybody dressed for the ride, a lot of people dressed for the destination. Rain? Let’s just pretend it isn’t there.
It is interesting to see how differently everybody treats the rain. Regardless of age and background. Some people wear a rain suit and stay perfectly dry and some simply don’t.

If you need concrete tips on how to combat the rain while cycling (in the Netherlands). The blog Iamexpat has you covered.

So what does happen when it rains? We deal with it and cycle on!

The Dutch rely on their weather apps predicting the rain to the minute and to the millimetre. You can decide to wait for the rain to pass but not when you see this. This is rain for the entire day. In that case you just go. In a rain suit or not.
This week’s video: people riding in the rain in Rotterdam.

It wasn’t the first time I saw people riding in the Rotterdam rain. I filmed for this post on Wednesday 3 February 2021. The same day I also filmed the Maastunnel. I rode to that tunnel in this weather and I also did not wear a rain suit.

7 thoughts on “Riding in the Rotterdam rain (again)

  1. Interesting question. In all honesty I don’t usually cycle in the rain unless I am caught out. Might be time for a re-think…

  2. Love the videos.

    Funny how people worry about someone cycling while it rains, but no questions about the ‘brave’ pedestrians.

    Have the same reasoning here in Ireland, when asked why I don’t wear a helmet. “Do pedestrians get knocked down by cars?” (the answer is obviously ‘yes’) “Should they not wear helmets for safety then?” Strangely enough most say that is ridiculous.
    Walking good – Cycling bad 😏

  3. It’s hilarious that someone who describes themselves as a “fiscal conservative” would oppose cycling.

    Words mean nothing.

    Also, I’ve never understood how “the weather is bad” can possibly be an argument against cycling, here in Canada we claim to pride ourselves on enjoying the winter–we ski, we skate, we have snowball fights, yet suggest that cycling in it is somehow beyond us.

  4. In my place of work many employees use bicycles to get to work….
    On very wet mornings it was not uncommon for a colleague(s) to ask, as I walked into the staffroom ‘Did you cycle…?’
    I would be dry and have given my shoes a polish in the bathroom or have worn runners while cycling and changed. Spare socks essential too.
    I have never been late.

  5. And that is why I stick to back paddle brakes. Then I can hold my embrella. Luckily I don’t have an employer requiring me to be present at 9:00.

    The last few years I also think differently about the rain: finally it is there! The soil needs it, because ground water levels have dropped because of extremely dry summers. If that persists the foundations of old cities will rot more.

    And after all, it is a small inconvenience. Just get a big embrella.

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