As Always, Looking for Your Stories of Commuting in the Rain

1 21 10 rain_1.jpgPhoto of Los Angeles Street after the Rain via irrelephant/flickr

Once a year I write a quick post asking you for your commuting or transportation stories from the past week.  Basically, I’m looking for you to tell everyone how your commute or routine is changed by the rain.  Feel free to leave them in the comments section, or email me if it’s more than 200 words and you believe it’s worthy of it’s own post.  I already have a story from a pedestrian in the Downtown that’s going up tomorrow.

Personally, since I mostly work from home unless I’m at a meeting, the difference is I was back on my bike to run errands, shooting out between thunderstorms.  Usually, I strap the baby onto my chest and we walk to do our errands, but I don’t want to expose him to too much bad weather and don’t want to get sick myself.  In the old days, pre-baby, I just biked through the rain and loved it.  Now-a-days, I try to keep dry because if I get a cold, and then he gets a cold, it’s a week of misery for his poor mother.

  • As a dedicated Monday-through-Friday bike commuter between Silver Lake and Westchester, my week has been drastically altered by the storms along with the application of what little common sense I have. As such, I’ve hauled my truck out of mothballs and used it for the 30-mile roundtrip every workday so far — and I’ve hated it.

    I’ve hated it because any day I can’t get on my bike and ride is not as good a day as it could be.

    I’ve hated it because I had to fill up my truck’s gas tank for the first time in three months.

    It’s doubly frustrating in hindsight because each day the rains have ended up falling mostly in the late-morning/early afternoon, leaving my commute times relatively dry and bikeable.

    The one efficient thing I did is work a Costco visit in after work on Tuesday. Normally I make that trip on the weekend.

    In addition, some months ago, I resigned my garage parking privileges at work and as such for these four days past and however many wet weekdays going forward, I’ve had to park on the street about half a mile away from the office building. The good news is that the walks to and from my office have been the high-points of my commute, and during this morning’s I found Royal Donut shop in the Dinah’s minimall on the corner of Sepulveda and Centinela. They make one of the best apple fritters I’ve ever had. So it’s all good.

  • Still biked to and from work as usual. Luckily (sort of), my extreme over time lately has meant I’ve been coming home after most of the heavy rains were finished each day. I put a clip on fender on the bike and wear a rain jacket, gloves, water proof sock covers, and have extra shoes at work. I also wear a longer brimmed cycling cap under my helmet to keep the rain off my glasses. It is easier for me to manage since my commuting distance is rather short and Santa Monica is less crazy to bike in than some parts of LA. If I wasn’t so short of time lately I’d probably take the bus and use an umbrella.

  • joe

    Being that I am currently unemployed, my commute from my bed to my sofa has been quite dry and uneventful for this time of year. Did you know that Jerry Springers Security Guard got a show of his own?

  • I biked a couple miles yesterday to get to the credit union ATM to deposit a check… braving a deluge… and then when my destination was in sight… the power failed in that neighborhood, so the ATM was out of order. Grrrr.

  • I have two very short bike segments at the beginning and end of my rail commute to Long Beach, and mostly have managed to go in between the deluges. A few bike commuters at the office switched to a car for the week to avoid the rain: one hyrdroplaned and crashed the car (no injuries luckily) and the others all suffered through flood affected traffic nightmares. On my bike I just rode around the flooded parts of the streets to the blue line and had an uneventful ride home! Stuff like this makes me really glad I don’t have a car and could be tempted to drive.

  • M

    Not much different here – I’ve managed to avoid the heavy rains during my normal commute times. When I exited the Red Line station today it was barely raining and halfway home (~.5 mile walk total), I got hit by hail and legs were completely soaked in the rain because it started blowing in at an extreme angle. Luckily I was home fairly soon where dry clothes were available.

    I did walk through a decent amount of rain during lunches this week though, but it wasn’t that big of a deal outside of the oddly placed drains around Pasadena. I don’t know if this is common, but many of the downspouts (exit spout? not sure what it’s called) drain from the building roofs directly onto the sidewalks. This means that pedestrians get to hop over or through little rivers flowing from the buildings to the street curbs on the sidewalk.
    like on the 3rd pole from the left

  • undersea_gal

    This was my first week back at school, and I was so looking forward to biking the nearly 8 miles round-trip with ease. Instead I’ve been forced to take the bus, which has thrown me off schedule due to leaving a lot earlier than intended and having to deal with transit delays out of my control. I’d rather just hop on the bike and go, hard and fast.

    I actually managed to bike to school yesterday morning when there was a break in the sky. The ride was smooth and uneventful. Unfortunately, it was pouring when I got out of class. I waited for another break in the sky and was rewarded with one – but only for about a mile. By the time I got home I was soaked to the bone, which isn’t nearly as much of an exaggeration as the wording of the phrase suggests.

    I loathe commuting in the rain. Outside of school, I haven’t been going anywhere much. As beautiful and awe-inspiring the downpours have been, I’ve personally been down in the dumps. I miss the feeling of powering through on my bike. Leave it to Mother Nature for providing a lesson on taking things for granted. Weather forecasts permitting, I’m hoping to get some concerted quality time on my two wheels this weekend.

  • I spun out on I-5 and rammed into a family of school children, killing everybody. Luckily I stopped and rendered aid so it did not matter that I was doing 110 MPH and practicing my drifting skillzzzzzz in the rain.

  • As a driver, I know that although driving in the rain can be time consuming, the roadways clear up if the rain stops and traffic flows much more freely in the afternoon. The morning is a pain as people drive slower and adjust to conditions, but actual volume, as measured by the freeway sensors, is lighter than on a sunny day. In the afternoon, enough people are freaked out by the rain that they call in sick, work from home, or take transit, that rush hour ends much quicker. For example, my commute from LA to the Inland Empire took 40 minutes on Thursday, where it normally takes an hour or more. Reverse psychology for drivers sometimes works.

  • Before heading out for my usual commute by bicycle I decided to walk across the street at Cahuenga Blvd and Riverside Dr. in North Hollywood to the 7-11 store. I decided to dodge traffic by crossing at the bus shelter rather than wading through water cresting the curb and about eight feet across that continued west down Riverside Dr. An employee at the 7-11 said, “Are you going to ride your bike today?’, ‘Yes’, I said, “Look for that idiot with the bright yellow jacket on to pass by in just a few minutes.” In LA’s last big rain a few years back I rode through water that covered my bottom bracket and I remember a driver giving me the traditional rotating finger sign around his ear that designated me as a person less than mentally all there.

    I started my commute riding west on the far left section of the right lane on Riverside Dr. trying to avoid the deep water. Having speeding cars in the next lane did not thrill me and so I decided to try the sidewalk. That was fine until I had to cross each intersection like a watercraft with water flowing over every curb. Trying to see if I am about to hit a crevice or pothole through water this deep is not easy and kind of scary.

    Lankershim Blvd traditionally floods from about Vineland Ave south until Riverside Dr and this was no exception with water flowing onto the sidewalk. Of course Lankershim Blvd past Vineland Ave is where I was headed on my way to the Orange bus line.

    The fire department had a truck parked in the middle of Lankershim Blvd at the Vineland ave/Camarillo St intersection due to the flooding. Seeing how I would need pontoons on my bike to get onto the street I turned right and continued on the sidewalk crossing Camarillo St. and headed back towards Lankershim Blvd. I pushed the pedestrian crosswalk button while a curious fireman stared my way. When I got the walk light I pushed through the water and turned right onto Lankershim Blvd with no further problems.

    Tuesday had worse flooding with Yellow caution tape put up at the Lankershim Blvd/Vineland Ave/Camarillo St. corner to prevent pedestrians from using the crosswalks. I had a little trouble ducking under this on my bike with the tape catching onto my backpack. Hanging television cable wires was not about to stop me.

  • DJB

    I took the Red Line to run errands @ Vermont and Santa Monica and lost an umbrella to the gusts :( Luckily there are people selling replacements for $5 at Wilshire/Vermont :)

  • Evan

    “Usually, I strap the baby onto my chest and we walk to do our errands, but I don’t want to expose him to too much bad weather and don’t want to get sick myself. In the old days, pre-baby, I just biked through the rain and loved it. Now-a-days, I try to keep dry because if I get a cold…”

    Sorry Damien, but I have to comment on this. You can’t get sick from cold or rainy weather.

  • Hey Damien, I have two posts on my rides in the rain this week… and

    It was scary out there on the bike, at least in my neck of the woods.

  • I don’t commute per se, but switched modes for a few trips I’d normally hop on a bike for… used the bus instead. Lost an umbrella walking to a meeting Downtown. Really hard to believe that transit/walkable cities like London/New York have to deal with this stuff all the time. Hammers home the point that L.A. could really be the ideal place for a transit/walkable city. Oh well.

  • It’s times like these that I’m reminded of how LA is engineered to move rainfall into stormdrains, and then into the ocean, instead of recapturing water to restore aquifers. A pet peeve of mine is trying to walk in LA during heavy rain. By design, water moves from the middle of the street to the curb, which supposedly makes driving safer for motorists, but makes it difficult for pedestrians to cross from one end of an intersection to another without the risk of soaking their feet in cold water.

    That said, even though I’ve lived in climates with more rain (ie DC), I have not caved into purchasing rainboots. Right now, I’m getting by with Dansko clogs.

  • Nice to read all the comments about how folks commuted in the rain. I had a meeting the other day in Santa Monica and decided to ride in the downpour. First off, I didn’t think of it as a commute, I thought of it as an expedition into wild nature – I loved every second of it! It rained constantly the entire ride and in some spots, was a total downpour. I really enjoyed the sound of the rain, marvelled at the streams of water flowing everywhere and just loved experiencing a radically different reality on the streets of LA. I layered up with several waterproof layers, but by the end of the ride which took an hour or so, I was completely soaked (but managed to stay warm because I was generating enough heat). In one of my panniers, I brought a complete set of new clothes and shoes, wrapped in two plastic bags. Arriving dripping wet, I changed into my new set of clothes and was as good as new! After my meeting, I appreciated having an MTA Rapid bus stop near by, which I took almost all the way back home. Happy riding everyone!

  • Ed Greenberg

    The best thing about getting laid off last Friday is that I didn’t have to do my walk+bus commute in the downpours.

    Here’s hoping that my next gig will be work-at-home, a condition I am actively pursuing.

    Ed Greenberg
    PHP and Voice Over IP development

  • That sucks Ed. I’m so sorry to hear that. Sending you good vibes of finding something better.


  • I have to put the “tent” up over the cargo container on my bucket bike, wear something over my normal shirt, and hold and umbrella in one hand while I ride to work/store/etc.

    Is it worth one cold right hand (the hand holding the handle bars)? Hell yeah! I barely get wet in the heaviest of downpours.


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