By Nate Leskovic
You may have known it in your heart, but there’s yet more solid proof that cycling is the fastest way to get around town this week. Cyclist Josh Zisson took the trophy in last week’s Rush Hour Race, a Boston Bike Week event that pitted cyclist, motorist and MBTA rider against each other in a race to work.
Zisson took the 8:30 a.m. race from Davis to Kendall Square in just 20 minutes, stopping at all the red lights and pedaled at a normal commuting pace on his single speed Jamis Beatnik (to view helmet-cam footage of Zisson’s ride, visit bikesafeboston.com).
“I think this shows everyone that you don’t have to run red lights or be on a dedicated bike path to be faster than a car or train,” said Zisson, an attorney specializing in bike law who rides during his commute every day from Central Square to the North End. “It presents cycling as a viable option by the numbers besides being more efficient and cheaper.”
Train rider Laurie Deitemeyer, who was not allowed to run per the race’s rules, came in second place at 29 minutes, while the Volvo station wagon driven by Ken Carlson rolled in last at 32 minutes. Surprise entrant John Wichers, who runs to work every day from East Arlington to Kendall, finished the race in 23 minutes on foot.
Despite the dreary and drizzly morning, dozens of race enthusiasts gathered at Red Bones in Davis Square to see the racers off with coffee and corn bread. After allowing a head start, a caravan of cyclists followed the route to race sponsor Genzyme’s building in Kendall Square. In a symbolic moment, the riders quickly caught up to the car in the race and exchanged a few morning pleasantries.
Though the race confirmed what many have always suspected, hosts LivableStreets Alliance, the Somerville Bicycle Committee, and the Cambridge Bicycle Committee stressed that the event was truly a celebration of the city’s “multi-modal” environment that makes it a dynamic, urban community.
“Transit and bicycle ridership are at an all-time high now,” said LivableStreets Executive Director Jackie Douglas. “We want to raise awareness of the benefits of having transportation choices and to promote how important that is.”
The end-of-race ceremony reaffirmed this theme through additional awards: cyclists were recognized as being most likely to lose weight and be physically fit, drivers won most likely to carpool and haul things, and T riders were honored for reducing congestion.
“What we really want is a nice balance and to share the road,” said Ken Carlson of the Somerville Bicycle Committee, who volunteered as the competition’s motorist despite usually biking to work.
LivableStreets’ Douglas said the organization’s phone was ringing off the hook for days due to interest in the race. She says plans are already in the works for another event next year, perhaps with multiple routes across the city.