By on April 10, 2011


Some nutcase on a big wheel trike beat a bus in a mile-long race in midtown Manhattan—by an absolutely incredible two minutes and 38 seconds.Meshugina Mark Malkoff, the comedian best known for living in the Ikea off the New Jersey Turnpike between exits 13 and 14 for an entire week; for visiting all 171 skcubratS in Manhattan in less than 24 hours, and buying something from each, and eating or drinking it; and for disappointing his mother by refusing even to apply to medical school (I made that last up, but logic dictates that it had to have happened) accomplished this feat on a Razor Rip Rider 360, obeying all traffic signals, and averaging 4.7 mph. The bus averaged 3.8 mph, which, as Mark pointed out in the video, is slower than a brisk walker, a skate boarder, someone on a pogo stick, or a snail riding on the back of a turtle. Not to name-drop, but Malkoff just happens to be my sister-in-law, Alison’s first cousin once removed. Which makes him my first cousin-in-law, once removed.

I’m sure Mark just wanted to bust the laughmeter but the implications are actually profound for us car guys, and for all those micro-managing nanny-staters who would pry us out of our Porsches, or even our Priuses, and shoehorn us into buses (yes, I know there are TTACers who drive Priuses, and love them, and I would never begrudge a car person their favorite wheeled vehicle, even if it were a Yugo, an Edsel, a Chevette, or–heaven help us!–a Trabant). Current settlement patterns in the Western world outside of cities such as Manhattan, Paris, and London doom transit to being a niche—albeit a useful and important one. (For example, traffic would undoubtedly be even worse in major cities without it, so you deficit-cutters who would eviscerate transit would do so at our collective peril.)

But even the subway is wanting if it fails to cover the city like a thick rug. To wit: I lived in the Brookland section of Washington, DC, six blocks from the red line. To get door to door to my HMO in downtown DC took 20 minutes by bicycle, and 20 minutes by car, including parking at a meter, but 40 minutes by subway with just one change (this was the ‘90s). To get to the National Institutes of Health, another frequent destination: 30 minutes by car, about 50 by subway. Heaven help me if I’d had to ride the bus. It’s no wonder that transit is an absurdly expensive way to mitigate carbon emissions.

Anyway, do watch the video. It actually busted the NIST/DARPA* experimental titanium laughmeter (amazing work, Mark!). And Mark: you really should race in the next LeMons. An Edsel would be the perfect car for you. But a Yugo or a Chevette would suit you just fine. Or a Trabant. I’ll be there rooting for you.

*National Institute of Standards and Technology/Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

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14 Comments on “Mark Malkoff Is Funnier Than Murilee Martin...”


  • avatar
    Philosophil

    Great observations there, David. Excellent stuff! This kind of reminds me of people who will stand and wait for an elevator to go to the second floor (or even worse, wait for one to go down to the first). The truly odd thing is that some of these same people will then pay good money to go work out at the gym. Interesting.
     
    As for the comedian, never heard of him. The video is truly hilarious, but never heard of him.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Funny.   But, the results might be different if the journey were 5 miles instead of 1.    I could cherry pick a one mile stretch of bus route in just about any city, especially if the route had many stops, and beat it too.
    Not that I’m defending buses per se.   I used to ride TheBus in Honolulu -which is a pretty good bus system.   Commute times were reasonable, but depending on the time of day it could be standing room only, or only half a dozen people, including the driver.
    I once calculated that if everyone on the bus had a moped less fuel would be consumed.

  • avatar
    findude

    Then there are the bus delays caused by the leisurely boarding and exit of passengers every block.

  • avatar
    zeus01

    Now THAT vid was funny and worth more than the price of admission!

    Rush hour notwithstanding, transit can certainly be useful for those fortunate enough to live, work and shop along the same bus route with no transfers— as long as it’s not too cold outside, or at least heated bus shelters are scattered along each and every route at a density of no fewer than a ten-minute walk apart from one another.

    Of course we know that such heated shelters don’t exist, at least not in most cities in North America. And for those who live farther out of the downtown district (or worse, have to transfer even once let alone two or three times en route) and are unfortunate enough to have to get to a second job to make ends meet, or get the kids from daycare, or bring groceries home, etc. transit will never be a realistic option.

    And not everybody can live downtown, there simply isn’t enough room. Anti-car zealots seem to be extremely miopic on this detail. Most of the shortcomings of transit also apply bicycles, mopeds, scooters and small motorcycles— for the same weather-related and utility reasons that leave transit an undesireable option. 

    As for the cost to society to support the current car culture, the good news is that all of the necessary funding to support an effective and safe auto infrastructure are being raised via road taxes and auto-licensing fees. The bad news is that only a fraction of this money is being used as originally intended— the rest disappears into a black hole known as “general revenue” where it can be spend according to the whims of governments at all levels: federal, state/province and municipal. Some cities even have “transit levies” of a few cents on every gallon of gas and diesel sold, which goes to further subsidize an already heavily subsidized and financially-unsustainable transit system in a feeble attempt to blackmail people into leaving their cars at home.

    One solution for those who must commute to and live within the downtown might be to allow small (think < Smart-car-sized) electric/hybrid vehicles of no more than say, 20 hp to be operated in designated downtown areas and suburban non-highway routes only. They would not be allowed on highways or any place where the posted speed limit exceeds 40 mph, but should themselves be capable of reaching sustained speeds of 50 mph. Like enclosed side-by-side seating scooters with cargo space, these vehicles would have to be very basic/simple and light-weight.

    Owing to their supplementary-vehicle status they would also have to be cheap to purchase new (ie: under 7k), exempt from the safety features of regular cars to keep the cost down (after all, scooters and bikes don’t have seatbelts and they’re not outlawed yet) and have high-visibility markings/flags so as to be easily seen by drivers of larger vehicles.

    Massive park-and-rides could then be utilized outside of the downtown districts where commuters could park their larger vehicles and jump into their micro-cars for the stop-and-go under-30 mph crawl through downtown traffic. Once there, parking fees would be exemt— as long as the driver utilizes less than half of the available parking slot, leaving enough space for at least another micro car or motorcycle. 

    Of course, regular vehicles would still be allowed in the downtown, but with no break on parking fees and the availability of micro cars the incentive to switch would be quite profound, especially when the absence of parking fees could pay for the purchase of the microcar in just a year or two. This could reduce larger vehicle traffic substantially in the downtown core, as well as in the burbs.  

    It’s not a perfect solution by any means. But it would reduce fuel useage/waste, reduce the burden of subsidized transit sytems, reduce traffic congestion and finally, take away most of the excuses spewed by socialists who’s primary motives for wanting us all out of our cars and onto bicycles have less to do with environmental conscience and more to do with keeping the Jonses down to their financial level while reducing (what they see as) “ugly pollution”, ie: the number of fat folks in society.

  • avatar

    (NOTE: He beat the bus by one minute and 28 seconds, not two minutes and 38 seconds, as the article currently says.)

    That is very funny and a delightful way to call attention to the folly of mass transit.

    “The Bus – It beats walking, but only because you can sit down while doing it.”
     

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      The bus is a bad example. It would have been a different story if he tried that with the 60~70 mph commuter rail train I ride into Boston. At rush hour, the fastest way into Boston is the trains. It’s not even a contest.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      I don’t think this shows that Mass Transit in general is folly. As a student I used to get the bus to go get groceries all the time (about 4-5 miles away) and it was a big help. This is a very particular example  over a very short distance and should not be read as a critique of Mass Transit in general.

  • avatar
    unartisticinc

    I agree with the “walking better than bus” in general, unless it’s infeasible.  However, comparing mass transport speed with automobile speed is misleading.  It is true that driving can be faster, but people don’t use mass transport because it’s faster — they use it because they have to or don’t want to own a vehicle in a city.  Driving and parking downtown in DC or NY (cities mentioned in the article) can be ridiculously expensive if parking for a workday.  Also, if each mass transportee were instead driving, then perhaps the time-in-transit comparison would be different with hundreds of thousands of additional cars on the road during rush hour.

  • avatar
    william442

    Mass transit works very well in large, congested cities, such as London, and Paris. For some reason it does not work very well in medium size American cities.
    Both European cities offer trains, busses, and cabs, that are efficient, and fun. I use the tube,or metro when I am in a hurry, and the busses when I want to see things. Of course both cities, and most other continental cities, are very walkable, but it rains a lot.
    A conundrum at best.

  • avatar

    If I want to take a bus downtown, I can wait for a suburban bus to get to the Northland bus stop, or walk the 2 1/2 miles. Then it’s a minimum of an hour, if it’s an express bus, or closer to two hours if it’s not an express bus. By comparison, I can ride my bike from my house to the foot of Woodward in about an hour. A car takes about 20 minutes if traffic is light on the Lodge.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    Oh, sure, one person can beat the bus on a Big Wheel, but if everyone was on a Big Wheel, think how bad the congestion would be!

  • avatar

    Meh,
     
    He’s no Lenny Bruce. Mildly amusing at best.

  • avatar
    zeus01

    I used to live in North Burnaby, a satellite city in the Vancouver BC. metropolis and at the eastern edge of East Vancouver. Transit from there to Richmond (another city just across the bridge at Vancouver’s south end) required two transfers and (including wait times + walking to and from the bus stops) took about one-and-a-half hours each way during off-peak times and two-and-a-half to three hours during rush hour. Try to imagine spending up to six hours per day commuting by bus.

    The same trip by bicycle (only on warmer days) could be done in one hour to Richmond (downhill) and about an hour and 15 minutes return (uphill). Add 15 minutes each way during rush hour.

    By car this trip took about a half-hour each way off-peak and 45 to 50 minutes during rush hour. And if I needed to pick up six or eight bags of groceries en route? No problem. If I needed to get home from my day job in time to be at my evening DJ gig by 8pm? Again, no problem.

    Neither transit nor bicycle would have made these things possible. And in large expensive cities my situation was far from unique. Even if the cost of car ownership were taken out of the equation that second income would have been necessary.

  • avatar
    akitadog

    I remember when I used to catch the bus to a job in downtown DC. Traffic was so thick at that time of day, that, if I missed the bus, which happened a lot (I would see it pass my stop as I’m walking to the stop), all I had to do was continue to walk the bus route until I got to a stop further down, to where the bus would finally catch up. At times, traffic would be so thick that I could walk so far down the bus route, passing traffic, that I would end up getting on the previous bus on the same line!


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