Updated with new data at bottom
“Rainy weather can’t keep a good cyclist down” – I thought, trying hard to convince myself as I rode down Symonds Street last Tuesday, with drenching rain spraying into my face. Since I am not a cycle commuter at the moment (I live too close to work – its literally quicker to walk), I haven’t been cycling in the rain much recently. And its been a few years since this school-kid argued against his father’s modest request to at least, at minimum, stop cycling during icy conditions…
At least I felt quite happy at having found my good rain gear that morning. Even in that downpour, I was snug and dry, and able to arrive at my NZTA meeting with dry dress shirt and trousers, after having pulled off the zippered rain over-trousers.
But the more relevant point would be: How much does rainy weather influence the cycling numbers in Auckland? We know Copenhagen cycles through driving snow, but what about us Kiwis?
Well, first off, we – very roughly speaking – cycle about 25% less in winter than average over the year, and 25% more than average in summer. Those are the patterns when you look at the year-round automatic cycle counter results.
But what about day-to-day changes? And influence of weather directly, rather than seasonally? What happens when it is hosing down hard, like this Tuesday morning? So I went to have a look at the cycle counter data.
I used the handy-dandy Grafton Bridge counter to provide a comparison (I considered using Kingsland’s counter, but thought Grafton Bridge provides a better cross-section of cyclists).
I looked at 4 days:
April 8 and 9 (Monday and Tuesday last week) – when we still had pretty good weather, and had had months of dry weather behind us
- April 15 and 16 (Monday and Tuesday this week) – while Monday was still tenable, Tuesday, as noted, was rather abysmal
So how do the results look like? Pretty telling (see results and curves at the right).
When looking at last week, we can see a real “bumper crop” of cyclists. 907 cyclists on Tuesday? Higher than any day on the bridge in the last December and January period. Monday was also a seriously strong day.
But then came the rains. Not only did the cyclist numbers drop off notably from last week’s Monday to this week’s Monday – presumably due to the start of worse weather over the weekend. They also took an even deeper nose-dive between Monday and our rainy Tuesday (and it wasn’t even raining all Tuesday morning – but by then, most commuters had obviously long since made their choice for more than 2 wheels). This week’s Tuesday had only 42% of last Tuesday!
So in the end, while this isn’t a very scientific study (way too few data points, lazy me), I feel confident to say that its seems to show that we just don’t like rain all that much!
UPDATE: One of our cocky commenters (well known to us) below threw down the gauntlet. Representing the Westies coming in along the Northwestern Cycleway, he’s telling the Grafton Bridge folks to “harden up” in the face of a wee bit of rain. Lots of cyclists out west – despite rain – he says!
Well, we went back to the counter data, and this time had a look at the Kingsland counter – for the same Monday and Tuesday this week, with the rainy Tuesday. How many “Westies” (including inner-city Westies) gave up as the clouds opened up?
Well, it seems that on Grafton Bridge, between Monday and Tuesday, there was a 33% drop in cyclists. On the Northwestern Cycleway, in that same period, the drop was 42%…
Mmm, Tommo – seems like Westies are actually MORE affected by rain. But at least tall tales still work 😉