Freezing Rain

Today’s evening commute brought on freezing rain. Not the most fun weather, but not insurmountable. There was no ice on the road, so the only issue was staying dry and warm. A tweed skirt, long wool winter coat, knee-high leather boots, earmuffs and huge mittens did the job admirably. A thick leather Coach purse in my basket kept my belongings dry. As long as the rain is mild to moderate, this kind of set up works well – no raincoat and waterproof panniers needed.

The photo below shows why I hate to ride downtown in the rain at night. With the wet pavement reflections, I doubt my bike lights and reflectors bring much attention from drivers, which is why I choose routes with as few cars as possible during times like these.

I’m grateful that Chicago does not have a long rainy season. Soon this rain will turn into snow, which – although bringing its own host of problems – is more enjoyable to me.

{For another take on riding in the rain, read about my friend Elizabeth’s wet commute on Bike Commuters.}

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15 thoughts on “Freezing Rain

  1. Samantha says:

    Glad you got home safely Dottie! We saw you riding on the way to work this morning.. you were headed down Lincoln Avenue I believe. I’d know that helmet anywhere. Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Dr Paul Martin says:

    Hi Dottie,

    That is an excellent point about the limited safety that bicycle lights offer when there are so many reflections on a wet road. I am also aware of this and stay well away from cars in the rain.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t snow here – I wish it did sometimes – but cycling in a torrential tropical storm is lots of fun too – as long as your belongings are dry and you’re separated from traffic (and glass… and diesel spills… and rocks… did I forget anything?)


    PS: Awesome blog.

  3. Jim Phillips says:

    Wow, that picture at night says it all!! Whew!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you Dottie and all your readers!!

  4. Steve A says:

    You are wise to choose the lower traffic routes in the rain. Listen to the traffic report on any wet – or foggy day for a reminder on why.

  5. Maureen says:

    Yikes…I can see (no pun intended) how you would be concerned about your bike light beeing noticed in the evening rain. Glad you made it home safely!

  6. Daniel says:

    The south wind was so strong on my way home last night (24 Nov 10:15PM – 11PM) that I didn’t have to pedal from North Ave. to Fullerton! (I paid for it in advance with my morning commute being against the same brutal wind.) But the ride home was incredible, needing basically no effort to cruise along at 12-15mph. I even used 8th gear for the first time on the omafiets.

    Have a great Thanksgiving!


  7. ridon says:

    ugh, my brakes were sketchy because of the wet conditions. ended up slowing my bike to a crawl so i could be sure i’d brake in time.

  8. Frits B says:

    Found this pic on Thomas Schlijper’s Amsterdam photblog:
    Looks very experimental to me but the fact that he shows two in the same pic must mean that somebody is thinking about production.

  9. Frits B says:

    The same contraption on an omafiets:
    Saves a helmet too :-)

  10. Daniel says:

    The Veltop could be awkward in a gusty crosswind.


  11. Nicola says:

    Wow, all of that light pollution. I don’t have that problem, but I have had to deal with ice in the last couple of days. This is my first winter cycling, so I’m really nervous about it. I slipped yesterday just as I was coming to a stop and putting my foot down, I stayed on my bike but did manage to prong my bum on my seat, it was surprisingly painful.

  12. Dave says:

    Welcome to Portland winter :) it’s cold and rainy here most of November, December, January, February and March, usually. Of course, not everyday, but as a dominant theme :)

    Not great, but you get used to it. I find that, other than for long rides in torrential rain, wool keeps me really dry, and thankfully I never really have to ride on roads with heavy traffic at night (just have to cross them sometimes), so I don’t really have a problem with light pollution.

    I wish we got more snow, but hey, nowhere is perfect, right? :)

  13. Very good point about reflection and visibility. Just like with headgear, it’s become an arms race where peds and cyclists lose every time. The European Cyclists’ Federation has come out against daylight running lights on cars because of the light pollution/visibility issue. Austria repealed its daylight running lights law because it was found to increase motorist safety at the expense of cyclists and other soft road users.

    CTC, the UK national cyclists' organisation Response to the European Commission's Consultative paper: Saving Lives with Daytime Running Lights (PDF)

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