July 20, 2011

Carmageddon 2011. Ride a bike instead.

(The) 405 closed in the LA area for a long weekend. The media and CALTRANS predicted mayhem, mass hysteria, cats and dogs living together.

As a bit of marketing genius, Jet Blue offered $4 flights from Burbank to Long Beach to get around the traffic jam. A writer and blogger with a couple of books out about traffic behavior sent out a tweet of:
Given airport travel time, security, runway delay, etc., I'd bet a good cyclist could travel BUR to LGB faster than Jet Blue. #carmageddon
Like many random things to flash across the internet, it took on a life of its own. A bicycling group in LA took up the challenge, and Jet Blue secured two seats on a otherwise full flight for two competitors. From the first Slate story, Carmageddon Challenge,
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...Ezra and I will take a cab from LGB to the finish line courtesy of GaryRidesBikes FIRST TO ARRIVE AT THE LIGHT HOUSE WINS!
From the follow up story, others decided to race against the flight. In addition to the bikes, someone used only public transportation and walking. There was also someone racing on Rollerblades. The unofficial results:
Bike: 1:34
Metro/Walk: 1:44
Rollerblades: 2:40
Plane/Lost Cabdriver: 2:54
As the author points out, "On the face of it, one shouldn't make too much of the Tour de Carmageddon. There was a certain mix of ludicrousness and PR genius in Jet Blue's move to airlift people over the 405-closure madness... it's not as if anyone saw the flight as a reasonable long-term option."

But it does point out that biking is an option for trips longer to just to the corner store. And as a great side story, it was pretty surprising the efficiency of using public transportation between the two points. LA is not known for its public transportation system.

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