Streetfilms: The Great NYC Commuter Race

You’ve read about it. You’ve analyzed it. Now see what the fuss is about. 

It’s the 7th Annual Great NYC Commuter Race, brought to you by Streetfilms.

  • Clarence,

    You didn’t point out BikeNob with a bright lipstick red arrow on the above film.

  • Clarence


    Elizabeth edited this fabulous piece, not I. I didn’t know I was supposed to point out Bike[S]nob in lipstick(???)…but don’t worry Cabron. Don’t worry.

  • mike

    Another great video by the Streetfilms crew!

  • Really, what is the point of this?

    Speed and carbon from the vehicle part of a single journey are far from the only important criteria for comparing modes.

    First of all, there is a huge amount of embedded carbon in the infrastructure needed to transport all three people.

    Second, the car driver said he needed a car for his gear. Why then didn’t he choose a taxi or car service, which perhaps would have made for a different and perhaps more useful comparison for NYC?

    What about the weather? Why were all the people young and able-bodied? What impacted upon the bus part of the transit journey which was out of the control of the MTA? Why did everyone leave from a spot on the middle of the street, and not from, for example, a residence? (This could have lengthened the car’s journey time.)

    How about reading on transit (even while standing)?

    How much did it cost everyone, internally and externally?

    Is saying a bike is (always) faster transit a good first step in a cooperative and collaborative dialogue on sustainable transport solutions between bike and transit people?

    A much better test could be to have something less abstract: Like three groups of people in three different neighborhoods who have to get something (buy something a little exotic, borrow a library book, apply for a new passport) to judge what neighborhoods provide and how they can be designed to minimize the need for mobility.

    This was a noble attempt but for many of us the results are obvious.

    People are making great progress in NYC in regards to sustainability but slick yet half-baked sensational research projects are not anything to build real solutions upon.

    Lots of stuff on Streetsblog and Streetfilms is totally kick ass, and I check both out all the time even though I live in Prague, but this conflation of a research project and propaganda film was below par.



    While you have gone beyond the call of duty in picking apart this fun Bike Month event, the Commuter Race is an unabashedly pro-bike event NOT a research project (which we do too!).

    The results may seem obvious to you and those who spent their time on bike-friendly blogs, but to the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers who see this event through t.v. and print, it is an unconventional way of promoting the option of bike commuting.

    We know as much based on the feedback that we get around this event from New Yorkers and people all over the world.

    I don’t think anyone who worked on this project saw this as anything other than a morale boosting close to Bike Month.

    Your ideas for measuring commutes are valid. Go out and make them happen!!

    Streetfilms: Awesome video!

  • mikez

    Todd- I think you’re reading too much into this. Certainly it’s more public relations stunt than research project, but it clearly demonstrates that bike commuting is an incredibly efficient means of transport. I’d bet that the general public would never guess that the bike would win this type of race, and for that reason alone I’d say it has merit.

  • mikez

    Hahaha- that’s what I get for not refreshing my browser 🙂

  • Lars 2.0


    Wow, you just spent an enormous amount of time picking apart a really fun event… I say: Just to see the overwhelming amount of positive coverage coming out of this, how much this video shows the public the ease of bike commuting, the playfulness of it all, that four networks (and print media, blogs, and Streetfilms) showed up to document to NYers how good biking is….well….

    Enough said…I got better things to do then a full rebuttal.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    This may be a fun event but TA is still using it to prove a point. Unfortunately as many have already said including myself, the point could have been proven in a way that would have been more scientifically sound.

    Todd’s criticism while justifiable is a bit extreme but it is still valid.

    Yeah, the film is very well done but it is covering an even that in my opinion could have had better rules to create a more realistic scenario while still being able to hammer home the point that a bicycle is a superior mode of transportation around the city. If this is one of TA’s biggest media events then next time don’t do it with so many obvious flaws.

  • I think this is a valid bike promotion event. It shows people that riding a bicycle in NYC is faster and easier than they would otherwise imagine. Most people really don’t realize that.

    Take this similar experience of mine:

    I was having dinner with 2 friends near Union Square. After dinner, we were going to a concert in Times Square. I got on my bike and as they hopped in a cab, they mentioned that they would wait for me at the venue. I just laughed. They really thought a cab ride would be faster than a bike ride. Guess who was waiting for who.

  • Clarence

    I gotta chime in here quickly…

    This morning, my bodega owner tells me with a big smile that he saw that the cyclist won in the paper. “Good job!” he said. (What I had to do with making it a good job, I don’t know…)

    Yesterday, while shooting some video in Grand Army Plaza, I chatted with a driver at a light who saw my camera gear asked if I had anything to do with the bike beating the car in the morning. “That was impressive, she must a fast rider.” he said. “Have a nice day.” he added.

    I was chatting with a publicist on the phone today and she told me she was late for work because she wanted to see who would win the race. She said she was rooting for transit but was glad the car driver didn’t win.

    The van driver who delivers baked bread across the street saw me today and said, “That was really cool that at a cyclist beat the car driver. Believe me, there are times I wish I’d be able to ride a bike when doing this job.”

    I’ve had other fun interactions, but one thing struck me – in a city that can be so antagonistic towards cyclists, where neighbors who don’t ride a bike will normally say you are crazy for doing it, where you have a myriad of obstacles, all my daily interactions re the COMMUTER RACE have been positive, friendly and upbeat…and the tv and news coverage has all been very flattering and positive.

    This event is great. It is enlightening for the general public. In that way it enormously succeeds.

  • Hi all,

    I am sorry that I sounded negative or extreme.

    The point of my comments (no. 4) was simply to push for the creation of an even better contest which supports all the other great things about NYC discussed on this Blog – in addition to cycling.

  • router

    Why in heavens name did she take the 4? The Q would have been a much better choice.

  • Bill

    4 was the easiest choice

  • Bill

    Sorry maybe not, now that i think about it..

  • B-Rand

    The Q is a slug going over the bridge.

  • Lars 2.0

    Q has few stops but is very, very slow in the AM.

  • Steve

    Or other computers? Have you tried unplugging/replugging it in? How about a different USB port?

    Just a few thoughts


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