But What About the Rain?

Colin Fiske
Coalition for Responsible Transportation
Executive Director

When you talk to residents of the North Coast about walking and biking this time of year, a common refrain goes something like this: “Sure, I’d walk or bike sometimes instead of taking the car—but I can’t do that in the rain!” If you’ve had that thought, or talked to people who did, here are a few things to consider.

Bicycles on a rainy day. Creative Commons, Wikimedia Images.

First, walking and biking in the rain can actually be quite comfortable, even pleasant, if you have high-quality rain gear. This gear can be expensive, and some in our community can’t afford it. But when you consider the full costs of owning and operating a car, the price of even the most expensive rain gear is trivial in comparison.
Second, it’s important to remember that a lot of people don’t have a choice about their mode of transportation. Many households on the North Coast don’t have access to a car, usually because they can’t afford one. These folks are still walking, biking and taking the bus wherever they need to go—including in the rain, the wind and the cold.
Finally, we can’t forget that we’re in a climate crisis. That means that our future weather won’t be the same as the weather today. But whatever the weather, we have only a decade or so to dramatically reduce how much we drive if we’re going to avoid the most catastrophic changes. Driving is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions locally (see page 19), and we won’t bring those emissions down fast enough or far enough if we stay in our cars half the year.
As a community, we need to start working on ways to make biking and walking in the rain more comfortable, convenient and affordable. From providing more covered bike parking and bus shelters to subsidizing winter gear for folks with lower incomes, there’s a lot we can do. We need to start now.