The Appeal of #FlightVSBike / #FlightVSMetro

Flight vs BikeAs I sit here engrossed in the twitter feed of #FlightVSBike, following the LAStreetsBlog tracker, and completely ignoring most of what I planned to do this morning, I write this trying to understand for myself what the appeal of this adventure is centered in and on.  I think it is partly because there’s something about it that is inherently new – that we’ve come to a time in our technological advancements that we have such a variety of transportation options across different terrains.  So then, comparing them is something we can do.  This is especially true in an odd moment, the transportation shift of “Carmageddon”, that creates the frame for a jet to only travel such a short distance (and JetBlue’s marketing prowess).

There’s also the newness of what feels like something absurd: a jet is faster than a bike…why would a bike win?  Yet, I haven’t really heard of anyone who is rooting for the plane to win.  Not to mention, everyone inherently understands the logistics of travel.  It begins from the moment you leave your home, and not all of us has a jet waiting for us in our backyard.

There’s something about the plane, something that – while it takes us across great distances – is more technology than man, even if it was invented by man.  It doesn’t dominate our everyday lives like cars do, where we – especially in this Los Angeles sphere – seem to exist in them like homes more than home itself.  The bike, on the other hand, is that mix of technology and human effort that almost requires equal efforts.  And of course as a public transit rider, I was also happy to hear that Gary Kavanagh (@GaryRidesBikes) took up that part of the helm, which is a space somewhere between FlightVSBike.

This all, of course, makes me look backwards at transportation moments in the past – the invention of the car, flights around the world, diving into ocean depths, and journeys into space.  And I don’t think we’ve had that sense of wonder in awhile nor do I think we were as entrenched in being used to technology as we are now.  All these elements that were once shiny and new in invention are now integrated into our perspectives of how the world is, events like #FlightVSBike & #FlightVSMetro really shine a lot on humans and our oft tenuous relationship with technology.  Not to mention, I doubt that this event would have been created so fast without web technology.

I sort of see the dominant support (as unscientifically discerned from the Twitter Feed anyway) for Bike and Metro as less a support about the technology as it is about the concerns of humans today.  We complain about TSA and fuel costs and flights costs and travel times.  We are becoming increasing advocates of a greener and healthier lifestyle.  And then there’s the missing element – the fact that the car is out of the equation, that perhaps we wouldn’t mind if it was less of the equation in general?

And having switched back and forth, and having written this thing piecemeal, I get to close by saying bikes WIN!  Metro team is closing in for second…and that jet?  Well, we’re all still proud and thankful for the Wright Brothers.


Pictured: Flight vs. Bike by walterrrr on Flickr