Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bikes win carmagedddon challenge

It's amazing how much publicity was given to the closing of a highway for a few days in California last weekend. Dubbed "carmageddon," you would think a major catastrophe was going to occur when I-405 was closed for a couple of days for construction. As it turns out it was "much ado about nothing."

You may have heard that JetBlue was offering a carmageddon special, a $4 flight from Pasadena to Long Beach to go "over the 405." Tom Vanderbilt, author of the book Traffic, thought it would be interesting to see how other modes would fare along the same route. The result was that several cyclists teamed up and raced between the two locations and their final travel time was much shorter than the flight:
When I learned the actual distance Jet Blue's planes will fly—30-odd miles—I wondered if there might be a faster (and even cheaper) way. Jet Blue had posted a flight time of 20 minutes. But what happens when you factor in the time to and from the airport on both ends, the walk to the check-in and then the unpredictable security lines, the equally capricious runway departure and arrival queues, and any other unforeseen delays? That cross-town trip was theoretically adding up to a substantial schlep.
Here were the rules:
Cyclists will depart from a residence near the intersection of Cahuenga and Chandler Blvd. in North Hollywood at 10:55 AM PT (Saturday, July 16) Flight Departs 12:20pm and we're basing the cyclists' departure time on the airline's recommended passenger arrival time of 1.50 hours before departure. (we're doing a little less to be fair)Cyclists will be required to follow all traffic laws.The finish line is the light house at the Shoreline Aquatic Park in Long Beach (adjacent to Acquarium of the Pacific)Ezra and I will take a cab from LGB to the finish line courtesy of GaryRidesBikes FIRST TO ARRIVE AT THE LIGHT HOUSE WINS!
Others got into the act including someone who walked and took public transit, and a rollerblader. Here are the final results:

Bike: 1:34
Metro/Walk: 1:44
Rollerblades: 2:40
Plane/Lost Cabdriver: 2:54

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