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So you think it always rains in Belfast? I cycle to work every day, and it's been dry 85% of the time

By Linda Stewart

Published 27/04/2016

Andrew Grieve on his daily commute in Belfast
Andrew Grieve on his daily commute in Belfast

Belfast is one of the rainiest places you can live, right?

Well actually, despite our maritime location, the city isn't as wet as you might think - at least that's what the head of DRD's cycling unit has discovered.

Fed up with people claiming it was too rainy to cycle in Belfast, Andrew Grieve decided to carry out a survey of his own, and the results are surprising.

He has spent more than a year logging the weather on his 20-minute commute in and out of the city centre and discovered that it was actually rain-free 85% of the time, meaning he only caught a shower on one out of every six journeys.

The interesting thing was that 30% of that rain-free time, the ground was wet underfoot, indicating that it had been raining earlier.

Andrew is calling on Belfast commuters to give it a go and try switching to two wheels for short journeys, pointing out that it could solve the city's congestion problems.

"I'm not trying to encourage people to cycle miles and miles, I'm just saying that whenever you have a short journey, give it a go," he says.

"If you cycle whenever it's convenient, if you cycle whenever it's dry, you will cycle much more often. If everybody cycled or walked half the time, that would solve the congestion in this city completely." Andrew says he first decided to log weather conditions on his daily commute from the Holywood Road because so many people blame Belfast's climate for not taking up cycling.

A DRD report in 2014 showed 19% of people cited bad weather as a barrier to cycling short distances.

"Having cycled for quite a number of years, I didn't think it was as bad as people make out - but there was no data to prove it," he said.

"I thought I should keep a record and find out how wet it really is."

Andrew kept an account of the weather on his inbound morning journey and his outbound evening commute, classifying them on a scale from dry, through damp underfoot, to 'spitting', to rain throughout.

He says the results show that for short journeys, wet weather is not a serious problem, affecting only three journeys in 20.

"What I realised very quickly is that Northern Ireland has a reasonable amount of rain, but it's spread all over the north and it's spread throughout the day," he says. Jonathan Hobbs, editor of, backs the call for people to take to their bikes for short journeys.

"I cycle every day and keep a rain coat and waterproof trousers handy, but they really aren't used that much," he says.

"If you're waiting for 'taps-aff' weather to get cycling to work or the shops, then Belfast isn't the city for you."

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