Southern California environment news and trends

Biggest winner of the #FlightVsBike Tour de Carmageddon...not who you think

So, bicyclists won handily in the race Saturday, beating Jet Blue. Wolfpack Hustle could soon be a household name in LA, which is kinda awesome. Jet Blue got its piece: the airline was a trending topic on Twitter Saturday, and got plenty of publicity, which was probably at least part if not all of its goal. But the real winner in LA might have been mass transit. Carmageddon's just the latest in a line of mass-appeal public events that suggest there's a car-free world out there in LA, if you want it. 

My compadre on this blog, Kathie Butler, wrote earlier about the general joy accompanying the absence of carsduring #Carmageddon weekend. I'm here to take a slightly more transit-specific tack on the thing. 

Gary Kavanagh - @GaryRidesBikes on Twitter - mixed it up not as a bike rider, which he is, but as a last minute public transportation guy. The original plan of the #flightvsbike race was to highlight the strength of pedal power against jet power, and point out the absurdity of scaring people into staying home because cars can't go on the 405. Gary added another angle

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Carmageddon: A holiday weekend like no other

Last Saturday night, I stepped out onto my street into what felt like an impromptu festival. The sounds of laughter and smells of barbeque wafted around the neighborhood. Pedestrians sat out on restaurant sidewalks swilling glasses of wine. Even dogs seemed happy on their leashes. It was as if some kind of holiday weekend was in full force in Los Angeles.

With one big difference. For most real holidays, my neighborhood looks like a ghost town. Why? Because then everyone takes to the freeways.

Not last weekend. The 405 Freeway closure that was almost Carmageddon has come and gone. Yesterday, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa declared “mission accomplished” and congratulated the city for not falling to pieces at the loss of a major freeway. The 405 shutdown was a wild success, reopening 16 hours earlier than planned and earning project contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West a $300,000 bonus. No major problems were reported. Traffic flowed smoothly. All was good in the Southland.

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Carmageddon throwdown: Wolfpack Hustle v. Jet Blue

Hard to top the US-Japan women's World Cup match for a sporting event this weekend, but this one's gonna try: a bunch of cyclists are going to race a plane from Burbank to Long Beach. Bike Commute News has the story of how this all went down. Joe Anthony (on Twitter as @OhHaiJoe) is the guy on the plane. Here are the rules: 

  • Cyclists will depart from a residence near the intersection of Cahuenga and Chandler Blvd. in North Hollywood at 10:50 AM PST (Saturday, July 16) Flight Departs 12:20pm and we're basing the cyclists' departure time on the airline's recommended passenger arrival time of 1.50 hours before departure. (we're doing a little less to be fair)
  • Cyclists will be required to follow all traffic laws.
  • The finish line is the light house at the Shoreline Aquatic Park in Long Beach (adjacent to Acquarium of the Pacific)
  • Ezra and I will take a cab from LGB to the finish line courtesy of GaryRidesBikes
  • FIRST TO ARRIVE AT THE LIGHT HOUSE WINS!

Wolfpack Hustle is...I'll let their self-description speak for itself - "dedicated to fixed gear, track and road bike culture in Los Angeles, a city currently dominated by the lowly automobile. No we aren't Olympians or roided-out weekend warrior types... not even close. We are simply here to ride stronger, faster and to assert our rights to these gritty streets." They roll out from Tang's Donuts near my house Monday nights at 10. Again, they say it best: 

The routes change up from week to week and cover wide swaths of territory. Riders that participate will experience a completely different Los Angeles than most trapped in their coffins will ever know. Distances range in length from 25-50 miles. We climb walls we break into shit we scuttle through hoods like rats on the run. The pack rolls as a group, there are no winners there are no losers. Understand: This is not a race. This is a HUSTLE. 

So the race starts Saturday at 10:50 AM from a residence in North Hollywood...the finish line is Shoreline Aquatic Park in Long Beach. Who do you think's gonna grab the glory of the bragging rights on this one? 

Follow the whole thing on Twitter at #flightvsbike, and these accounts are your leaders: @bikecommutenews @wolfpackhustle @ohaijoe @ezrahorne

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JetBlue's 405 special: Carmageddon's carbon Armageddon in the sky

To borrow from The Clash, it's Carmageddeon Time! Jet Blue's offering $4 flights between Long Beach and Burbank. (A fiver if you want leg room.) And JetBlue is one of the few airlines that — when you book with them — directs you to a place where you can offset your carbon because riding in a great big jet plane takes great big combustion engines that burn great big fuel. And since fossil fuel burning creates greenhouse gases and these companies purport to let you pay your share of the greenhouse effect. 

I just checked with Carbonfund.org, JetBlue's corporate partners. The cost, they say, to offset the carbon for that flight is $0.12. Twelve little cents! (That's based on Carbonfund.org's calculation that you're responsible for 0.01 metric tons of CO2.) 

"It’s really minor, but if there are a good number of people offsetting their flights, it adds up," says Jordana Fyne, Carbonfund.org's communications specialist. 

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