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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 03-24-08, 07:13 PM   #1
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The bicycle wins

Just flipping thru the channels on TV and caught an episode of Top Gear on BBC America. It featured a race from the West End of London to an airport on the East side, directly thru the heaviest traffic. There were four modes of transportation: a bicycle (Specialized Sirrus.... neat...fast) , a heavy BMW SUV, public transportation and a speedboat (up the Thames.)

The bicycle wins a minute or two before the speedboat (which maneuvered at speeds of up to 70mph). The guy in public transportation arrived about 10 minutes later and the SUV arrived dead last, 15 minutes later.

So we have it... proof!
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Old 03-24-08, 07:25 PM   #2
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I've replicated this experiment several times. Even in a smallish city like Lansing, I've beaten buses several times, and I'll usually tie a car if traffic's heavy. The car beats me in light traffic, but not by as much as they think they will. And of course I'll win if they have to stop for gas.

Of course I'd love to try a speedboat in the Red Cedar and Grand Rivers!
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Old 03-24-08, 08:01 PM   #3
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I've replicated this experiment several times. Even in a smallish city like Lansing, I've beaten buses several times, and I'll usually tie a car if traffic's heavy. The car beats me in light traffic, but not by as much as they think they will. And of course I'll win if they have to stop for gas.

Of course I'd love to try a speedboat in the Red Cedar and Grand Rivers!
This mirrors my experiences in Lansing. It's too small of a city to beat cars in less than busy traffic but big enough to have periods where I can beat any other form of transportation. The buses are rarely faster. That's why I really only take them when it's horrible out or my legs are beat up.

It's always nice to beat your friends when your on your bike and they're driving.

It's too bad that the rivers aren't utilized for travel traffic though. There's only a few places to dock. It'd be great to kayak to work or to the store.
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Old 03-24-08, 09:02 PM   #4
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Each year during Bike to Work week in May, the Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas has a Commuter Challenge. The mayor drives and a chosen cyclist pedals. Little Rock's traffic is light enough that over about 10 miles, the mayor still arrives first, but only by a minute or so. The point is still made. This happens in both Little Rock and North Little Rock.
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Old 03-24-08, 09:07 PM   #5
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I raced the wife all the way across Denver years ago. I took two hours and the three buses she rode took 3 hours. She had lost a half hour at each transfer.
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Old 03-24-08, 09:16 PM   #6
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This mirrors my experiences in Lansing. It's too small of a city to beat cars in less than busy traffic but big enough to have periods where I can beat any other form of transportation. The buses are rarely faster. That's why I really only take them when it's horrible out or my legs are beat up.

It's always nice to beat your friends when your on your bike and they're driving.

It's too bad that the rivers aren't utilized for travel traffic though. There's only a few places to dock. It'd be great to kayak to work or to the store
.
I've thought about getting a canoe or kayak, if I could figure out where to dock it. I don't know how practical it would be for transportation, but it'd be fun as hell and good exercise. I love the water. One of my favorite cycling routes to work is called the "2 Lakes and 3 Rivers Ride." In the summer I stop at the first lake, rent a rowboat and spend an hour on the water. This is the same lake I ride my bike on in the winter. Michigan is so fun...when you're not stuck in a car!
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Old 03-24-08, 09:49 PM   #7
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I've thought about getting a canoe or kayak, if I could figure out where to dock it. I don't know how practical it would be for transportation, but it'd be fun as hell and good exercise. I love the water. One of my favorite cycling routes to work is called the "2 Lakes and 3 Rivers Ride." In the summer I stop at the first lake, rent a rowboat and spend an hour on the water. This is the same lake I ride my bike on in the winter. Michigan is so fun...when you're not stuck in a car!
What lake?
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Old 03-24-08, 10:14 PM   #8
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What lake?
Hawk Island lake is the one I row in/ride on. The other lake on the "2 Lakes & 3 Rivers Ride" is a small pond north of there in Scott Woods, but I can't ride there any more because they made it into a dog park. (grrrr!)

The rivers are Sycamore Creek and of course the Red Cedar and the Grand.
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Old 03-24-08, 11:31 PM   #9
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My experience has been that, in larger cities, over distances of 5 miles or less, bikes are usually much faster than cars, especially when you factor in the time it takes to find a parking space. More than a few times, I have surprised car-driving friends by beating them to destinations across town. (a couple of times, I've even managed to drink a whole beer before they arrived) Even when they do beat me, it's usually by less than 5 minutes. Over longer distances, though, bicycles aren't the best choice, if you're concerned about time. For example, traveling from Port Angeles to Sequim, WA, a distance of 20 mi, takes about 25 minutes by car, but 1.5h by bike (it's a bit hilly). (The bike route is a lot more pleasant than driving, though.)

The main point, however, remains: over shorter distances (<6mi) in any kind of city, the optimum means of transport is the bicycle.

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Old 03-24-08, 11:37 PM   #10
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The main point, however, remains: over shorter distances (<6mi) in any kind of city, the optimum means of transport is the bicycle.
Well, the bike is always optimum, but it's the fastest only over shorter distances.
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Old 03-25-08, 03:10 AM   #11
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I proved this to my ex again and again. We lived in an apartment about 3.5 miles from the hospital where we both worked at the time. We would both head out at the same time; I would unlock my bike from the stair well, hop on and ride thru the complex to the road to work. The ex would have to walk to where the car was parked, drive around a long block due to one way streets and the way the parking lots were laid out. She would pass me about 1/2 block before the turn off to the employee parking lot. I would ride past the parking lot, up the back drive and park my bike in the hospital laundry. I would be sitting at the shop window with a cup of coffee and see her walking up the sidewalk from the employee parking lot. Similar scenario on the trip home

For most short trips under 5-6 miles, to me the bike is the only way to go.

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Old 03-25-08, 07:15 AM   #12
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Daily, I leave the stoplight in front of my house at the same time as another parent going to our kids' school. I always beat them to the school yard to pick up the kids. Traffic, and finding a parking space usually lets me beat her by 2-3 minutes.
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Old 03-25-08, 07:35 AM   #13
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They do this in Philly every year too. Car vs. public trans vs. bike. The bike always wins.
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Old 03-25-08, 08:58 AM   #14
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Hawk Island lake is the one I row in/ride on. The other lake on the "2 Lakes & 3 Rivers Ride" is a small pond north of there in Scott Woods, but I can't ride there any more because they made it into a dog park. (grrrr!)

The rivers are Sycamore Creek and of course the Red Cedar and the Grand.
Oh. I always considered that a gravel pit. I was trying to think of a lake in Lansing and couldn't think of any.

Is this 2 lakes & 3 rivers ride something you made up or is it an event?
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Old 03-25-08, 09:32 AM   #15
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Each year during Bike to Work week in May, the Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas has a Commuter Challenge. The mayor drives and a chosen cyclist pedals. Little Rock's traffic is light enough that over about 10 miles, the mayor still arrives first, but only by a minute or so. The point is still made. This happens in both Little Rock and North Little Rock.
Someone should talk Lance or other big time TT specialist into being the cyclist one year and not let the Mayor in on it.
That would be a hoot.
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Old 03-25-08, 03:38 PM   #16
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I beat the car every time, after I shoot the tires out.
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Old 03-25-08, 07:51 PM   #17
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Well, the bike is always optimum, but it's the fastest only over shorter distances.
I have never tried this kind of challenge. Only thing I know is that I arrive in a better frame of mind if I travel by bike rather than car.
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Old 03-25-08, 07:56 PM   #18
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The thing about "the challenge" is that it's actually rigged to favor the car, since traffic lights are timed good for cars and lousy for bikes. But even though it's rigged against us, we usually win!
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Old 03-26-08, 06:05 AM   #19
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Yeah, I just "loved" all the cussing and swearing from having to stop at lights and restart, and making the effort sound at least five times as hard as it was. Flat bars on a carbon Specialized kinda cracked me up, too.

I got the feeling that the show knew in advance that the bike was probably going to win, so they had to make it look as difficult as possible. At least it was done in their usual good humor.

Oh yeah, I'd love to see that run again with something like a normal watercraft (cost, performance) not a Ferrari of the waterways. Have a feeling that public transportation would have come in second under those circumstances.
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Old 03-26-08, 07:10 AM   #20
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Only thing I know is that I arrive in a better frame of mind if I travel by bike rather than car.
Ditto It's amazing how stressful driving a car can be...
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Old 03-26-08, 08:32 AM   #21
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Flat bars on a carbon Specialized kinda cracked me up, too.
How come? I think a more heads up posture is nice in city traffic. I'd like to know what you think because I'm thinking about getting a Sirrus with my stimulus check. (The cheaper one, not the full carbon.) That or a Jamis Coda.
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Old 03-26-08, 02:09 PM   #22
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I raced the wife all the way across Denver years ago. I took two hours and the three buses she rode took 3 hours. She had lost a half hour at each transfer.
It takes me about 30 minutes to ride to work; A little over an hour to walk to work; An hour and 50 minutes to take the bus to work.
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Old 03-26-08, 03:03 PM   #23
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It takes me about 30 minutes to ride to work; A little over an hour to walk to work; An hour and 50 minutes to take the bus to work.
For me, 20 minutes by clunker bike, 40 minutes by foot. About 15 minutes by foot and subway at rush hour service if I get on the platform just as the train arrives.
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Old 03-26-08, 04:47 PM   #24
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I bet I could run and beat all of them.
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Old 03-26-08, 08:32 PM   #25
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I bet I could run and beat all of them.
If you're a really fast runner and you don't have to obey all traffic signals, and it's only 5 miles or less, or there's a lot of uphill, maybe you would. But I sort of doubt it. A fat guy on a hybrid can do 15 mph on flat ground pretty much all day long without working all that hard, and I doubt that even an Olympic runner could sustain that rate for any length of time. Even the world's best runners can't do sub-2:00 marathons.

However, I might yet be wrong. I used to go on mountain biking trips with my friends, only I would run while they biked, because I was a pretty good runner, but a very bad mountain biker. On the uphill stretches, I could beat them easily; the flats and downhills, though, were a completely different story. Sometimes, they would have to wait as long as 15 minutes for me to arrive back at the trailhead.
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