The much-publicized event of re-traffic-ing called “Carmageddon”, where LA shut down the 405 freeway for 53, hours prompted a very interesting commuter competition.
Writer Tom Vanderbilt [Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)] discovered that Jet Blue was offering a special flight from Burbank to Long Beach to ostensibly help people around the surmised traffic jam. Mr. Vanderbilt tweeted with the supposition that someone riding a bicycle could arrive at the destination more quickly than someone on the plane.
The bicycle group Wolfpack Hustle A Team took on the challenge.
· Point to point from a Burbank home to the Long Beach aquarium.
· All participants must follow traffic rules and be street legal.
· The airline participant would add time to allow for the recommended airport arrival time published by Jet Blue.
While not exactly taking up the challenge (Jet Blue was careful to say that they were not racing) the airline offered a ride on the over booked plane for one of the participants. The contest was held on July 16th and here are the results:
1. Bike: 1:34
2. Metro/Walk: 1:44
3. Rollerblades: 2:40
4. Plane/Lost Cabdriver: 2:54 (2:21 if they had really pushed the limit at airport arrival.)
The air distance was about 28 miles. The bike riders’ average speed was just over 24 mph, traveling about 38 miles.
If one guesses that the cruising speed of the plane on a short haul would be about 200 mph, and that the bicycle riders could continue at the pace of 24 mph, the bicycle could have gone another 36 miles for a simultaneous arrival. With this amazing level of performance, the Wolfpack Hustle A Team could travel from Bellingham to Everett as fast as Jet Blue!
While this demonstration has made an astounding point testing the boundaries of commuter travel, it probably has no connection whatever to real world commuting. After all, these types of commuter challenges are usually meant to help people expand their day-to-day travel ideas. Most of us are going do our commuter bicycle travel at some more reasonable pace, like 12 mph, for an hour or less in order to arrive comfortably at work.
Here are some links for more on this story:
Rachael Maddow tells the story
Original article in Slate Magazine
Details from Bike Commute News