Join Oakland North for the Race to the Airport

on November 17, 2010

With Thanksgiving around the corner, many Oaklanders will soon be flocking to the airport to spend the holiday with loved ones across the country.  But with the holiday rush clogging traffic, that may be easier said than done.

Ever since ground broke last month on the long-awaited Oakland Airport Connector, a tram that will link the airport to the Coliseum BART station, here at Oakland North we’ve been wondering: What’s the fastest way to get to the airport?  The new tram may not be finished until 2015, but in the meantime we decided to conduct an unscientific experiment we call The Race to the Airport.

The premise is simple: we’re going to drop off four of our intrepid reporters at Bakesale Betty’s at 51st and Telegraph, and after Betty herself waves the checkered flag at 8 am this Thursday, each of our four racers will scramble to Oakland International Airport, carrying a pie—an actual, already-baked pie, that is, even though we realize it would probably hang up the TSA screening procedures—and using a different form of transportation:

  • Car: Alyssa Fetini will be driving.  A car is obviously the fastest vehicle, but will the I-880’s gridlocked morning traffic slow her down?
  • BART: Shirley Lau usually travels by car, so we’re taking her out of her comfort zone.  And after she gets to the Coliseum BART station, she’ll have to navigate the AirBART shuttle bus that will carry her the last leg to the airport.
  • Bus: Roberto Daza has never set foot on a bus in the East Bay (and swears he doesn’t know how to ride a bike).  Depending on his route, he’ll have to make at least two transfers, which any bus commuter knows could take some time.  We hope he makes it to the bus stop; we’ll see about the airport.
  • Bike: Ted Trautman rides his bike “The News Cycle” all over Oakland, but it’s a fixer-upper he hasn’t bothered to fix.  And we’re not entirely sure a person can safely or legally bike all the way to the airport’s front door.

To the best of their ability, racers must simulate how an Oaklander would approach the journey in real life.  So to keep the contest fair, our racers will have to follow a few rules:

  1. Racers will be allowed to plan routes ahead of time, consulting Google Maps, AC Transit’s web site, etc., since we don’t think many people set off for the airport without having some idea of where they’re going.
  2. Racers must stick to their assigned form of transit (i.e. Ted can’t just throw his bike on the BART), but Shirley is allowed to make a decision about taking the bus to get to her BART station, since 51st and Telegraph is a bit of a hike from the nearest BART.
  3. Alyssa will have to park her car a reasonable distance from Bakesale Betty’s, since parking in  Temescal isn’t always close.
  4. Above all else, each racer, including Ted, will have to carry that pie all the way to the airport.  At the end of the race we’ll compare the condition of each pie and factor this into our final point tally.

We’ll also be keeping track of costs—tolls, gas, parking, fares, etc.—along the way.  Ultimately, we hope to keep our readers out of the worst traffic jams, and still thankful for Thanksgiving by the time they reach their destinations.

We’ll reveal the results of the race on Tuesday, November 23, in time for you to check out before you take off on your own holiday travels. Stay tuned to Oakland North, and don’t forget to take our poll—cast your vote for who you think will win the race!

Update: winner announced here!

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2|Race to the Airport Poll|Who will finish first? Cast your vote here before Nov. 23.

2|Race to the Airport Poll|Who will finish first? Cast your vote here before Nov. 23.

7 Comments

  1. peter on November 17, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    FYI there is bike parking surprisingly near terminal 1 at the airport, towards employee parking. I was quite surprised to see it there, it looks like it’s there on accident and that’s why I remember it.
    Oh, and MacArthur Bart is NOT far from Bakesale Betty! Good luck everybody!



  2. Dave C. on November 17, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    I once biked to the airport and locked my bike there for a long weekend. I found a bike rack to lock up to (possibly the one that Peter saw, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve improved the bike parking since I used it in 2003).

    I don’t expect the bike to be fastest, but if the cyclist wants to win the prize for most scenic trip, then he might want to cut over to MLK regional shoreline south of High Street, or at 66th Avenue, and enjoy the nice waterfront bike path through the park all the way to Hegenberger. It’s not the fastest route, but its a much nicer ride than taking San Leandro Blvd all the way.



    • Brian T on November 17, 2010 at 11:09 pm

      I discovered that same bike rack too. There is also a bike lane on an access road leading to it. Biking would be the most fun, but not the most direct. (Ever try riding down International?) Plus, keeping the pie all in one piece might be a problem depending on how Ted carries it on “The News Cycle.”

      I put my money on Shirley (BART => AirBART)



  3. vision63 on November 18, 2010 at 8:55 am

    I’m guessing BART plus AirBART as the victor, though I’m rooting for the bike. Be safe.



  4. Lindsay Imai on November 18, 2010 at 11:10 am

    I’ve successfully taken the bus from my house a bunch of times and it usually is a comfortable ride that takes less than an hour and only 1 transfer at Eastmont Mall. That said, I’ve not attempted it since AC Transit cut 7.2% of service in March and another 7.8% in October. If we had given just 1/10th of the cost of the Airport Connector and used it for AC Transit – we wouldn’t have seen a single cut in service this year. I guess the 4,000 people who actually ride BART to the Airport are more important than the 227,000 people who depend on AC Transit everyday.



  5. Will on November 18, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    I would choose BART but Alyssa can drive me to the airport anytime. Rawr!



  6. […] anticipation of the extra traffic that comes with the holiday season, last week Oakland North posed a question: what’s the fastest way to get to Oakland International Airport? To find the answer, on November […]



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Oakland North is an online news service produced by students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and covering Oakland, California. Our goals are to improve local coverage, innovate with digital media, and listen to you–about the issues that concern you and the reporting you’d like to see in your community. Please send news tips to: oaklandnorthstaff@gmail.com.

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