What happens when L.A. is debilitated by repairs on a 10-mile stretch of freeway? Some people hop on a 35-mile plane ride to bypass it. And others get on their bikes and make it there in half the time.
A team of cyclists challenged JetBlue's $4 Carmageddon special, a 22-minute flight from Burbank to Long Beach designed to airlift people over the shut-down Route 405. Bikers and flyers set out at the same time, and bikers reached the goal (the Long Beach lighthouse) in half as long, 1:34 versus 2:54. Taking public transportation and then walking was also way faster, comparable to the time it took to bike. Apparently a rollerblader beat the flight too, clocking in at 2:40. The flyers claimed their cab driver at the Long Beach end got lost, so maybe rollerblading was neck and neck with flying, but the point is, ROLLERBLADING WAS NECK AND NECK WITH FLYING.
Now, technically all this proves is that it is dumb to take a plane less than 40 miles — and that's not because flying isn't fast, but because of all the rigmarole with the check-ins and porno-scans and shoe removal and whatnot. About an hour and a half of the plane's "travel" time was just making it to the airport in enough time to get through security, then staring sullenly at the unsatisfying trail mix options in Hudson News. Okay, so if you fly within a single metropolitan area, the preparation takes more time than the flight. That's not really surprising, and most of the time these short hop flights aren't available anyway.
But the challenge also draws attention to the myriad ways of getting around a metro area, even when major roads are closed. It's a pat on the back for daily commute alternatives like biking and public transit, and it also reminds us that those aren't the only non-car games in town. I mean, rollerblading! Who would have thought of rollerblading, outside the 1990s, if Carmaggedon hadn't made it necessary to think up alternate modes of transportation? Next let's see whether it's faster to fly or pogo!