By taking the victory in the Carmageddon challenge, the team of cyclists that beat a Jet Blue flight on Saturday elevated self-propelled transportation across the country and out-stunted the air carrier in the PR chase.
As a promotional tactic tied to the weekend closing of I-405 in California, the country's busiest freeway, Jet Blue offered $4 flights to cover the 30 miles from Burbank to Long Beach. A few laps of social media later, a group of cyclists called the Wolfpack Hustle took up the challenge of beating air travel between the destinations.
The flyers were doomed by the travel to and from the airport, and the bike riders pedaled to an easy victory:
Plane/Lost Cabdriver: 2:54
Tom Vanderbilt, the Slate writer and mastermind behind the Carmageddon challenge, came away with this conclusion:
"But the moment of folly seemed to provide an aperture for new thinking. 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.
"We can quibble over the details. These were fit cyclists (averaging, by @sumnums' calculations, 24.4 mph) riding in formation, largely on bike paths without traffic signals. What if it were a single rider on a clunkier bike? (Actually, given the margin of victory, it's likely many cyclists could have bested Team Jet Blue.) But the real point here is not to demonstrate the feasibility of traveling from airport to airport, but to make a case for the bike for all kinds of trips, even those trips that we write off in our heads as implausible by anything but car. I'm thinking not just of those less-than-one-mile trips around town that we know people tend to make by car. The bike is also a possibility for more adventurous trips; say, to the airport itself—plenty of people do it."