Last weekend’s closure of Los Angeles' 405 freeway - dubbed "Carmageddon" because of the predicted ensuing transport chaos in a city famed for its traffic - saw an unlikely showdown between a plane and a group of enthusiastic cyclists.
With accessibility on a large section of the 405 non-existent, airline company JetBlue came up with a ploy to ferry commuters by plane covering the 30 mile stretch of closed road between Burbank and Long Beach, on a 20 minute, $4 flight. In response, Slate magazine columnist Tom Vanderbilt posted a challenge on Twitter; he reckoned, when taking into account travel time, getting through security and runway delay, a decent cyclist could make the journey faster than the plane.
The challenge was accepted by a group of cyclists calling themselves Wolfpack Hustle, who were given a one-hour head start over the aircraft on account of the time it takes to transit through the airport on domestic flights. And it was the cyclists who easily came out on top, arriving at their destination before the aircraft - which had suffered take-off delays - had even made it into the air.
Taking just 1hr 34mins and averaging 24.4mph, they arrived in Long Beach 1hr 20 ahead of the plane journey, which required a taxi ride from the airport to complete. The plane’s time was also eclipsed, according to Twitter, by a metro/walk combination (1hr 44) and even a girl on roller blades (2hr 40).