STUDY: 98.1% of Commuter Cyclists Happy to Ride in the Rain

Despite poor weather conditions often being considered a factor in preventing widespread cycling in colder countries, a study has found that, actually, 98.1% of cyclists would still consider commuting by bike in the rain.

The survey of 1,259 cyclists, conducted by Discerning Cyclist, found that just 1.9% of riders wouldn’t consider riding in light rain. 88.5% of respondents, on the other hand, said they would “probably” or “definitely” ride in light rain, while 9.6% said they were not sure if they would or not.

The results of this study align with the real-world findings in the likes of Copenhagen and Amsterdam, where thousands of people take to their bikes every day – even in the sub-zero temperatures experienced on some winter days.

14.5% of respondents said that they would “definitely” still ride even in heavy rain, while just 7.1% said they definitely would not.

CYCLING IN THE RAIN SURVEY RESULTS

Question 1: “Would you commute by bicycle in light rain?”

Respondents: 1,259

Responses:

ANSWER RESPONSES PERCENTAGE
Definitely 689 54.7%
Probably 425 33.8%
Maybe 121 9.6%
Probably not 20 1.6%
Definitely not 4 0.3%
Figure 1: Bar chart showing responses to: “Would you commute by bicycle in light rain?”

Question 2: “Would you commute by bicycle in heavy rain?”

Respondents: 1,259

Answers:

ANSWER RESPONSES PERCENTAGE
Definitely 182 14.5%
Probably 355 28.2%
Maybe 361 28.7%
Probably not 270 21.4%
Definitely not 90 7.1%
Figure 2: Bar chart showing responses to: “Would you commute by bicycle in heavy rain?”

What Cycling Experts Say About the Findings:

“It’s consoling to see that 98% of commuter cyclists are happy to ride in light rain,” said Professor Chris Oliver (AKA ‘Cycling Surgeon’), “I think that once you are prepared and realise that cycling in light rain isn’t that bad then it can become a habit.”

Girl on the Bike clearly doesn’t mind a bit of drizzle, stating “I don’t at all mind light rain… if it’s heavy than I need to feel adventurous to do it. Light rain, though, doesn’t change my bike routine.”

And Kim Horgan agrees, “Riding in light rain is refreshing and, especially in mild weather, often preferable to a sunny day ride. For me it’s a reminder of what riding was like as a kid, when you didn’t consider the conditions, just the joy of being out there on your own, the freedom and connection with the outside world.”

Kieran Ryan, a spokesperson for Dublin Cycling Campaign, revealed that the findings also align with their own studies: “We are not surprised by the findings of this report, as some of our own studies have indicated that convenience and reliable travel times are two of the primary reasons why people choose to cycle, with the weather being a relatively minor consideration.

“In fact, many people tell us they often prefer cycling in the rain because they know that traffic congestion will be worse, but that their journey times by bike will be unaffected.” 

But Brian Palmer of the legendary cycling blog, The Washing Machine Post, doesn’t think a downpour should really affect a rider, “the maxim that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only poor choice of clothing, has never been more true.

“With the options available from several purveyors of cycling apparel, there’s whole range of valid and compelling excuses to go ride in the rain. Skin is still waterproof.”

Dr Rachel Aldred, a Reader in Transport at Westminster University, affirmed the feeling of many urban cyclists, stating: “While poor weather can make all types of travel more challenging, it’s not generally the main reason for low cycling levels.

“Cycle tracks are busy even in a cold Copenhagen winter. If people feel cycling is safe, so that they’re not going to end up under a lorry if they happen to slip, there’s more chance they will get on their bike even when it’s cold or rainy – and in the sunshine.”

COMMENT BELOW: What plays a factor in deciding whether you decide to commute by bicycle or not?

Pete Reynolds

Pete is the co-founder and editor of Discerning Cyclist. He commutes by bike daily from his home to his co-working space. Originally from Wirral, UK, Pete now lives in Spain. When visiting a new city, Pete loves nothing more than to explore it on two wheels. See Pete's Muck Rack profile

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