Bikes vs. cars during rush hour

A rush hour showdown to see who can reach downtown first.

Credit: Granville online

Bikes and cars go head-to-head in the streets of Vancouver

These days, the idea of pitting drivers and cyclists against each other during a rush hour showdown seems almost sadistic. (They’ll kill each other!) But with tension mounting between the two groups over road sovereignty, perhaps a little friendly competition is just what’s needed.

So during the May 2009 Bike to Work Week, the Vancouver Area Cyclist Coalition (VACC) decided to find out once and for all which is the faster commuting vehicle: the car or the bike.

How it worked: Nine teams, each with one cyclist and one driver— representing BCAA, BC Hydro, CBC Radio, Grey Vancouver, HSBC Bank Canada, Shaw TV, VACC, Vancity and Zipcar—departed from different spots all over town to race through morning rush hour traffic to get to the Vancouver downtown library first.

Drivers in the competition were confident, with one remarking (maybe a bit facetiously), “I have four wheels, which is two more wheels than [a bike] has… and the more wheels you have the faster you go!”

So who were the first to taste victory (in the form of coffee and pastries awaiting the contestants at the library)? You might be surprised. In seven out of the nine teams, the first to arrive were cyclists! One bike rider got lost and another one, Margaret Gallagher from CBC Radio’s The Early Edition, arrived only two minutes after the car driver, CBC Radio 3 host Lisa Chistiansen.

The Share the Road Challenge was also an opportunity to compare CO2 emissions, number of calories burned, the cost of the ride and the enjoyment of the driver or cyclist. The results there are less surprising.

Below, the VACC put together a fun short documentary about the Share the Road Challenge. Give it a watch—it’s pretty entertaining!


Share the Road Challenge from Diana Wilson on Vimeo.