Phil Gaimon, a former pro cyclist who has attracted over 100,000 subscribers to his Worst Retirement Ever YouTube channel, has posted a video of an e-bike v car race for a Los Angeles commute.
Bike v car remains a timeless stunt because so many people still struggle to comprehend the true impact of urban congestion.
‘But cars are so much faster,’ they think, unaware that the average speed of motor traffic in a UK city centre is unlikely to top 10mph.
The most famous car v bike challenge is probably the one that featured in the BBC’s Top Gear in 2008 where they pitched Richard Hammond on a bike against Jeremy Clarkson in a speedboat, James May in a Mercedes and the Stig on public transport, in a race from Kew to London City Airport.
Plenty of others have done the bike v car element in various urban areas, but it’s less common to see an e-bike employed.
“Cycling is supposedly an environmentally-friendly activity,” says Gaimon in one recent video. “But the way I did it as a racer and to a lesser extent now – flying around in big metal tubes powered by dead dinosaurs… kind of a big carbon footprint.”
Gaimon says he lived car-free when he was based in Girona in Spain during his racing days and really liked it. While he runs a car in Los Angeles now, he is trying to use it less.
He says he sometimes runs errands on his road bike, but has recently started making greater efforts after RadPower provided him with a RadWagon e-cargo bike and a RadMission e-bike.
Gaimon is no longer a pro cyclist, but he remains pro cycling in the other sense. He points out that while electric cars are great, a Tesla car battery could power 300 e-bikes.
He has no plans to sell his car, but has instead set himself a goal of leaving it in the driveway as much as possible.
Gaimon undertook the e-bike v car challenge in honour of International Car-Free Day last week, having first invited his viewers to nominate themselves and their commutes as his competition.
He eventually decided to take on JK Welner on the basis that the teacher’s 19-mile trip provided the stiffest test.
“Anything under five miles – that’s barely a contest by the time you factor in parking,” argues Gaimon.
Urban traffic being what it is, Welner’s journey typically takes around an hour.
We’ve posted the video at the foot of the article.
Welner takes his BMW down some pretty major roads that mostly look like this…
… while Gaimon takes his e-bike down quiet dirt roads that mostly look like this…
It’s a familiar conceit and the video cuts between Gaimon skittering along enjoying himself and Welner sat in stationary traffic pondering convoluted public transport options he could try. Later on, Gaimon gets back on the road and whisks along some bike lanes.
It’s not a contrived thing though. These things usually come out with the bike being the quicker option, but in this case Welner says he had “not a bad commute” allowing him to arrive about 15 minutes before his rival.
It’s not all about travel time though, is it? After emphasising that he didn’t arrive that much later, Gaimon points out that he had more fun and got a workout as well as saving a ton of money on fuel.
His conclusion is that while there is a threshold at which taking a car simply becomes more practical, for a huge proportion of everyday journeys an e-bike – or an e-cargo bike – is highly likely to be a better option.