Monday, March 26, 2007

cycm rumors: bike vs. car

That's right, as the weather gives us a Spring preview, it's time to start thinking about Curb Your Car Month. All through the month of May, the getDowntown program organizes events, lectures, parties, and give-aways to celebrate and promote the carfree lifestyle in Ann Arbor.

There is nothing that whips up the excitement for upcoming events like unsubstantiated rumors, so we'll pass on some info that a little bird whispered in our ear. It sounds like one of the events may involve a cross-town race between a bike and a car. Details are sketchy and the route is not set, but the race will involve a couple of check points in order to factor in Ann Arbor's infamous parking "problem."

We previously mentioned that Cranksgiving would be a great event to include in CYCM. According to the rumor mill, this race is not for general participation. But really, who would stop you from riding along?

We'll be posting a few more bright ideas that we'd like to see as part of Curb Your Car Month. If you have suggestions, post them in the comments or send an email. Also, remember that ideas are useless without action, so volunteer with getDowntown to help organize events!


p said...

The odds will be stacked against the car.

If I drove my car like most cyclists ride their bikes, I'd have no problem beating a bike in a car. Running stop signs and traffic lights and driving the wrong way down one way streets is soooo much faster.

Murph said...

Do I detect some sour grapes on the part of a cager, p? "Yeah, well, I'm too upstanding and honest to win such a race. So there!"

Sure, I'll creep past stop signs in quiet residential neighborhoods rather than putting a foot down, but I can keep pace with, say, rush hour traffic on Packard while following all the laws - and that doesn't even factor in the parking disadvantage of the drivers.

Scott said...

One has to weigh p's cycling cheats against the illegal advantages of the car. Cars travel at double the speed limit through town, also roll through stop signs, park illegally, and don't provide the required space when passing cyclists.

The major benefit is in the vehicle's bulk, which is used to intimidate, cut-off and force cyclists of the road. And don't forget the hilareous stunt where garbage and full cans of beer are thrown at the cyclist from out the car window.

Fortunately, we won't need to worry about such nasty tactics since, as we understand it, both racers will be required to follow all traffic laws.

The advantages I see for the cyclist, depending on the route, will be, parking, cutting through campus, and riding on the sidewalk, which is not safe for cyclists or pedestrians, but is legal in Ann Arbor. There are also lots of little short-cuts and rear entrances that will benefit the cyclist.

Anyway, I assume the point of the race is not so much for bragging rights and to demonstrate that cycling is an efficient way to run errands around town.

JCP2 said...

Would you be able to add the requirements of transporting a 4 year old and a 2 year old (safely) to and from the grocery store to better reflect a family situation? An xtracycle with a stokemonkey may be necessary to match the car (although it really isn't just a bike at this point.)

Scott said...

I'm not sure that transporting kids and racing really go together in any context. However, I appreciate your point. If I ran the zoo and a Cranksgiving style event was included, I'd definitely make a category for families.

Maybe, if this demonstration race goes off well this year, it can be expanded to include some additional requirements and participants next year. But, depending on the route and number of stops, I'd still bet on the bike to win, with or without a stokemonkey. My prediction is that parking will be the Final Decider, giving the cyclist a tremendous advantage.

BTW, while I've never ridden one, I love the idea (and look) of xtra-cycles, especially with stokemonkeys. If you own one or have ridden one, I'd love to post your experience here!

Bruce Fields said...

"My prediction is that parking will be the Final Decider, giving the cyclist a tremendous advantage."

Yeah. Even in places without proper bike parking there's usually some convenient place to lock up.

Busy urban areas can also mitigate the speed advantage cars normally have, and offer a couple minor advantages to bikes: occasionally it may be safe for a bike to pass in a situation where a car just wouldn't have space; and in some cases the sidewalk can help even if you just dismount and walk.

Every now and then I'll be in a situation when I'm going somewhere with some friends, me on my bike and them driving, and I do sometimes win, despite being pretty strict about traffic laws--I don't run stop signs or ride on the sidewalk.

I usually seem to lose on the trip home, though--I blame a long uphill.

biscodo said...


Glad to hear that people were already thinking along these lines. There IS going to be an event this year.

It's a charity/benefit race, so everyone/everybike is welcome - commuters, gonzo roadies, MTBers, whoever. All you need is a bike, bag (or rack/trailer), lock (not required, but recommended), and some cash for buy food to donate to Food Gatherers.

Sunday afternoon, Nov 18th.