Bike vs. Car vs. Transit
Transportation Alternatives held its 7th annual Commuter Challenge pitting cyclist, driver, and bus/subway rider in the ultimate showdown of which mode of travel can be quickest (and cheapest!)
In the end, the bike proved swiftest over the 4.5 mile course which began in Brooklyn's Fort Greene and ended in Manhattan's Union Square. Jamie Favaro rolled up in just over 16 minutes and took home the gold and a bouquet of flowers for her efforts. Driver, Emmanuel Fuentebella (22 minutes) parked his car and sprinted to a surprise second place finish. Shortly after, disappointed MTA rider April Greene came in last at 29 minutes. But, as Wiley Norvell noted at the finish line, Transportation Alternatives also measured the carbon footprint of all the the riders and Greene came in a close second behind the cyclist.
[music] Caroline Samponaro: [0:02] It's the great New York City commuter race, time-honored tradition. Today the cyclists will be racing the transit rider which will be racing the car driver, from Fort Green here in Brooklyn to Union Square in Manhattan. What it's going to prove is that, as always, bicycling is the fastest and most affordable way to get to work.
Jamie Farvo: [0:23] I can very easily beat the car driver and the subway. No problem. It's not even a contest. I feel kind of bad for them because it's going to be a pathetic crush of their soul, their commuting souls.
April Greene: [0:38] Oh, I'm definitely going to win because MTA, New York City Transit, rocks.
Emmanuel: [0:42] Fuentebella: My name's Emmanuel. I'm going to hoop the cyclist and I'm going to pick up the commuter. Jamie: [0:47] Not a contest. [music]
April: [0:49] Better leave it go [laughter] .
Caroline: [0:50] Go. Go. [music] [traffic sounds]
Emmanuel: [laughter] [1:07] April: [1:08] Do-de-tum-to-to. Off to a rip-roaring start waiting for the light.
Emmanuel: [1:13] Oh. Here's the first red. Yeah.
Jamie: [1:17] I'm a social worker and program director in Washington Heights. It only takes me 45 minutes by bicycle to get from Glory side to Washington Heights, and it takes me about an hour to commute by the subway.
Emmanuel: [1:30] I'm going to make a right to Blackbush towards Manhattan Bridge. Yeah. And this is kind of a heavy traffic area. [music] April: [1:47] I do have a sinking feeling that I'm losing a little bit of ground to my compadres at this juncture, but I'm going to make it up later.
[1:57] It's a little tight in here. It's cozy.
Speaker: [1:59] Are you crowded. April: [2:00] Get to know our neighbors this way. [music background]
Jamie: [2:03] I'm getting to work, I'm de-stressing, and exercising in one.
Emmanuel: [2:11] This is Manhattan Bridge, man. It's so nice to be over the city. We're now in Manhattan. I think I might be winning because we crossed the bridge pretty well. April: [2:26] Smell that exhaust.
Emmanuel: [2:27] I work in television and I carry equipment among other things, lights or teleprompter gear, tripods, and unfortunately I cannot put it all on a bicycle. Jamie: [2:39] Yeah. Bikers rule.
April: [2:41] Let's see, it's 8:03 by now. We left at 7:45, so it's going to be 18 minutes.
Emmanuel: [2:48] A little bit of traffic, yeah. Look at a bicyclist just that's more behind. April: [2:53] Very helpful.
Emmanuel: [laughter] [2:54] [subway announcer]
Emmanuel: [3:01] Let's go. Let's go. There's no parking here, man. I will not find parking here - 8:30 to 9:00 a.m. Shoot. Jamie: [3:11] I didn't break a sweat. I'm not hyperventilating. Pretty easy. Not a difficult commute. Very fun.
Emmanuel: [3:21] I'm here. Well, I came in second, but I really wanted to win. [music] April: [3:25] What's going on? [laughter] How did you beat me?
Wiley Norvell: [3:27] Well, our bicyclist won hands down with 16 and a half minutes. Our driver was a bit behind at 22 minutes, and our transit rider came in third this year with 29 minutes. Probably having something to do with her bus to subway combo instead of the usual just one subway all the way. [3:42] We also measured the carbon footprint of all of our riders. Our bicyclist came in first, obviously, with a zero carbon footprint. Our transit rider was just behind with one pound. But the driver on that little 5-mile drive produced six pounds of carbon dioxide. So they're obviously the big loser where that's concerned.
April: [3:58] So I was kind of shocked to come in dead last. I thought we made pretty good time. We didn't wait too long for any one method. We didn't experience any really abhorrent delays. But, yeah, it just took a while, and I would be a lot happier right now, I think, if I had ridden my bike. [music]