Avid MNN readers know that during Carmageddon — the much feared weekend-long shutdown of the 405 freeway in Los Angeles — JetBlue offered some $4 flights between Long Beach Airport and Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. What you may not have known is the fact that a group of L.A.-area cyclists decided to race that plane!
Yes, the cyclists, a racing team called Wolfpack Hustle, won — by more than an hour. Public transit taker (and also a cycling advocate) Gary Kavanagh beat the plane, too. So did a tweeting woman on rollerblades!
Clearly, fighting traffic to the airport, making it through security, and relying on a cab driver to know the way is not as efficient as traveling across town in more eco-friendly ways. Slate has the unofficial finish times, calculated by @bcgp:
Plane/Lost Cabdriver: 2:54
For those new to the story, Slate's Tom Vanderbilt provides a nice comprehensive article on what went down — and waxes lyrical about the possibilities of cycling and public transit in the city:
"In the face of this fanciful idea (a traffic-busting flight!) it became possible to demonstrate that cycling, often taken as a non-serious or marginal or even annoying (to some drivers) form of transportation in the United States, could seem eminently reasonable: not only the cheapest form of transportation, not merely the one with the smallest carbon footprint, not only the one most beneficial to the health of its user, but the fastest...
"But the race today wasn't only about the cyclists. Gary Kavanagh, who had reacted enthusiastically to my initial daydreaming about a 'Tour de Carmageddon,' was the day's dark horse, revealing the secret efficacy — and perhaps, for some remote Twitter spectators, the existence — of Los Angeles' oft-derided subway system. (When I thought of a cyclist racing a jet, I admittedly wasn't even aware one could take mass transit between BUR and LGB)."
Many Angelenos who weren't even aware of this race talked about how the freeway closure actually made for quite the pleasant weekend. KPCC's Molly Peterson picked up on this tweet from L.A. County's public transit agency Metro:
That's one big idea — and GOOD asked for more this morning by kicking off a new project: "Imagine Your Los Angeles Street Beyond Cars." Submit your best car-free vision by July 31 for a chance to get it seen at the A+D Museum on August 11 during the Moving Beyond Cars party. One winner will get GOOD goodies and other prizes. RSVP for the party now to find out who the winner is then.
In the meantime, filmmaker Ross Ching reedited footage from one of his films to show what L.A. would look like without cars (via LAist):
Other interesting posts for those who can't get enough of #flightvsbike:
- The story of how #flightvsbike came about, via Twitter
- Transit taker Gary Kavanagh's perspective on the race