Join 3,562 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Racing a clockwork orange
January 22, 2006 12:06 PM   Subscribe

The Subway Challenge! Can one man get off the Glasgow underground at one stop, race the train to the next and get back on the same train? Mebbes aye, mebbes naw. (What? Want more underground? Here are some great photographs from before and after its 1970s restoration)
posted by bonaldi (61 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I want to see this video, but all I get is a page full of goballygook when I click on the links.
posted by handshake at 12:16 PM on January 22, 2006


Hmm, boo. It worked for me at home. try savign to disk, as that has definitely worked on this Mac here.
posted by bonaldi at 12:18 PM on January 22, 2006


Great photos in the second link. Thanks for this!
posted by 327.ca at 12:22 PM on January 22, 2006


Love the idea, but I can't see the video either. But the photos in the second link are worth the post all by themselves.

Now where's sgt serenity? Sarge, ye're missin yersel!
posted by languagehat at 12:33 PM on January 22, 2006


You have to "Save Link As..." to get these to work (if you are interested, I'd guess that the MIME-type mapping on their server is broken).

Also, for me at least, the mp4 has no sound... but I'm watching the wmv now with great interest...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:34 PM on January 22, 2006


Subways stop every 55 seconds? How wasteful!
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:35 PM on January 22, 2006


You need to right-click the "Just Gimme the Video" link and save to disk. If you just click on it, it thinks its a web page and tries to open it in the browser.

Superb link though: excellent stunt.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:36 PM on January 22, 2006


I love stuff like this. Reminds me of the Jackie Chan bike race down from a hill in Hong Kong.
posted by riffola at 12:36 PM on January 22, 2006


Awesome video and idea.

I wish they used a camera on his bike in addition to the one he was wearing since it's pointing down for most of the trip.

It makes me wonder if this is possible in any other cities.
posted by toftflin at 12:51 PM on January 22, 2006


mr_crash_davis, not wasteful at all. St Enoch used to be a major rail station (I remember the building being a car park, then a derelict lot, then a shopping centre), and Buchanan St is close to another major station (Queen St), so it makes sense.
posted by scruss at 12:55 PM on January 22, 2006


Love it!

Now the next challenge has to be between Hillhead and Kelvinhall stations, or maybe even Kelvinhall and Partick?

Or if that's too energetic then go for the Subcrawl..
posted by Nugget at 2:02 PM on January 22, 2006


Here's a better challenge:

Can we get Web server admins to learn something about MIME types?

Fun video. I wonder if I can do this with the NQRW somehow.
posted by Mikey-San at 2:08 PM on January 22, 2006


Do not try this in London.
posted by knave at 2:10 PM on January 22, 2006


hmm, I wonder if any London tube stations are spaced closely enough for this?

Camden Town & Mornington Crescent? Cheating because there's always a big delay where the train stands still in the tunnel waiting for the tracks to switch.

Warren Street & Goodge Street

Shepherd's Bush HC & Goldhawk road

The lunatic in me is sorely tempted to see if it can be done, any London MeFites have suggestions for appropriate stations?
posted by atrazine at 2:13 PM on January 22, 2006


Second link = traditional Scottish welcome!

I'm glad they modernised the subway to make use of the tremendous popularity of the Umpa Lumpa, too.
"Be sure to paint them a ridiculous colour so that the people can use this, along with their diminutive size, to nickname them after a famous banned film by a crazy director"
What was the author referring to?
posted by NinjaPirate at 2:14 PM on January 22, 2006


See the title, NinjaPirate: apparently Glasgwegians call the Subway the clockwork orange, although I've only ever heard journalists call it that.
posted by bonaldi at 2:18 PM on January 22, 2006


any London MeFites have suggestions for appropriate stations?

In my experience, Rotherhithe/Canada Water is the only place on the network where you can see the other station's platform from your platform. I suspect you would die if you attempted to beat the train, though.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 2:20 PM on January 22, 2006


I wonder if I can do this with the NQRW somehow.

I'd try between 8th and Union Square. With a bike, it just might be barely possible.
posted by booksandlibretti at 2:27 PM on January 22, 2006


NinjaPirate: A Clockwork Orange was "banned" (although not really) in the UK. Perhaps that's the reference?

The single interior shot in the second link is really amazing — wood and leather in a subway car!
posted by IshmaelGraves at 2:41 PM on January 22, 2006


Running like a madman in and out London Underground stations might not be the best idea in the present climate. Wonderful photos!
posted by tommyc at 3:10 PM on January 22, 2006


Subways stop every 55 seconds? How wasteful!

Just in case you weren't joking, a lot of trains here in New York stop every minute or so. The trains are reasonably fast and most stops are meaningful for someone. Besides, public transport works when stops are close: if you have to walk too far after you get off, it is less useful.

That said, I think if I were try this in here, I might go for the Union Square to Third Avenue L or the (totally inane) 18th Street to 14th Street 1. In Brooklyn you could cheat and do the Graham to Grand L stops, since the train stops for a second every time. They close my train every damn weekend and they can't even fix that bit of track?! Harumph, damn MTA.
posted by dame at 3:15 PM on January 22, 2006


Great video. I found it amusing that he took the time to pay at the gate. It was the reason why the first attempt failed.
posted by Mijo Bijo at 3:16 PM on January 22, 2006


Those photos and more all appear in an excellent book about the history of the Glasgow Underground which I can't remember the name of (not the one mentioned there.) The most interesting one I remember was the old entrance to the Kelvinbridge station, which was an anonymous doorway to the right of the stairs down from Great Western Road (think it's now a t-shirt printing shop or something.) Makes you wonder if there is still access somewhere in that building to the underground.
posted by fire&wings at 3:17 PM on January 22, 2006


Oooh, I just realized what I'd like to see: someone racing the J or M over the Williamsburg bridge. I'd think the speeds you could garner coming down the span would really help. You might beat the train even.
posted by dame at 3:18 PM on January 22, 2006


It's definitely an interesting thought as to whether you could do this on the London Underground, but I suspect it would take too long to get from the station entrance down to the actual platform. Glasgow is fine (along with many North American systems) because you only have about one escalator or flight or stairs to go down to get to platform - not so with most lines on the London Underground.

Of course, if we're talking about delays well...

I suppose another interesting possibility is some kind of race from one side of London to the other, using various forms of public transport or restrictions (e.g. how fast can you carry a person across London)?
posted by adrianhon at 3:20 PM on January 22, 2006


Mijo: Yeah, when I read that disclaimer saying that it wasn't necessarily legal, I thought he was just going to vault over the ticket barrier - it would've saved him two or three seconds, at least. He could've even had a friend stand by the barrier to pay for him afterwards, if he was really worried about legality.
posted by adrianhon at 3:22 PM on January 22, 2006


They do that in New York, adrianhon. Car v. subway v. bike. (Here's the 2003 press release, though I think they do it every year.
posted by dame at 3:24 PM on January 22, 2006


I'm pretty sure that this could be done in Boston between Copley and Arlington on the Green Line. As well as State and Downtown Crossing on the Orange.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:42 PM on January 22, 2006


Re: London Underground - you could probably beat the train from Finchley Central to Mill Hill East (which is a 3-minute train journey, and the bike would be going mostly downhill) but that's not quite as interesting since (a) the main reason for beating the train would be the continual stop-starts en route and (b) Mill Hill is the end of the line.
posted by yoz at 3:42 PM on January 22, 2006


dame: Ah, no surprises there then - sounds like fun! And your link reminded me of what unconsciously prompted my comment - the man vs. horse marathon in Wales.

I wonder if you could beat Covent Garden to Leicester Square on the Piccadilly Line - it's only 250m, you could sprint that pretty quickly. Again though, really depends on getting to the platform.
posted by adrianhon at 3:51 PM on January 22, 2006


I think Union Square station might be too big to get into that fast. I could see trying to beat the 1/9 from 23rd to 18th, both very small simple stations.
posted by nicwolff at 3:53 PM on January 22, 2006


In NYC, the best bet would be 34th St. & 28th St. on the N or the 6.
posted by riffola at 4:02 PM on January 22, 2006


The R in fact would work the best, because run out from the 32nd St. entrance, and bolt down Broadway to the 28th St. entrance, it's not too hard.
posted by riffola at 4:03 PM on January 22, 2006


I was thinking Park St. to Boylston, Mayor Curley. You could probably manage it on some of the aboveground Green Line stops too, but that'd be cheating, I think, since the Green Line cars can get held up by traffic. I can't really think of any suitable Red Line or Blue Line stations.
posted by ubersturm at 4:13 PM on January 22, 2006


RE: Covent Garden to Leicester Square on the Piccadilly Line, it only takes the train ~16 seconds, plus you'd have the stupid lift system at Covent Garden to contend with.
posted by tapeguy at 4:21 PM on January 22, 2006


I think Union Square station might be too big to get into that fast.

I think if you try to cross to the north side of 14th, you'll be sorry. But if you duck down one of the little entrances on the south side of 14th, you might have a shot, assuming you already know where the NQRW entrance is.

Probably the best bet in New York is the 32nd to 28th (or vice-versa) mentioned above, though.
posted by booksandlibretti at 4:22 PM on January 22, 2006


tapeguy: In that case, it probably wouldn't work then :) Unsurprisingly I have never taken the tube that way.
posted by adrianhon at 4:27 PM on January 22, 2006


I'm thinking the 1 from Canal to Franklin.
posted by mullacc at 4:42 PM on January 22, 2006


If you got off the District Line at Turnham Green as the doors opened, you could probably be halfway to Stamford Brook by the time the train started pulling away. It's 420m, and you'd have to run along the tracks (dodging speeding Picadilly Line trains racing past) but I reckon it's doable. Anyone?
posted by armoured-ant at 4:47 PM on January 22, 2006


I was dissapointed that he rode a bike. I can think of any number of stations that I could beat if someone was waiting with my trustie track bike in hand. Hell, I ride home every day in 35 minutes and it takes 50 minutes to do the same route by subway.

I'm thinking that I could do this from Canal to Dekalb on the Q, going over the Manhattan Bridge. That would make a good film.
posted by n9 at 4:49 PM on January 22, 2006


Run along the tracks? I don't like the sound of that. There must be some other, safer way of doing this in London! I know that there are some stations which are easier to get in and out of (e.g. Clapham North/Common/South)...
posted by adrianhon at 4:53 PM on January 22, 2006


Jared Wins!
posted by Balisong at 7:12 PM on January 22, 2006


Apart from the end credits that was class. And buy a Discovery ticket and vault the barrier next time pal.
posted by brautigan at 8:01 PM on January 22, 2006


i love the clockwork orange. this made my day.
posted by 3.2.3 at 8:51 PM on January 22, 2006


Fun video.

fire&wings: "The most interesting one I remember was the old entrance to the Kelvinbridge station, which was an anonymous doorway to the right of the stairs down from Great Western Road (think it's now a t-shirt printing shop or something.) Makes you wonder if there is still access somewhere in that building to the underground."

I pass that shop every day - I'll have to nip in and ask. The bloke who runs it is a bit bonkers, and the shop is always shut, so it seems reasonable to suppose he spends his days roaming abandoned tunnels...
posted by jack_mo at 4:13 AM on January 23, 2006


And those photos remind me of the (completely wiggy) film Death Watch, which used 1970s Glasgow as a location to suggest a dystopian futurescape. (More on the film, courtesy of MeFi user Len.)
posted by jack_mo at 4:29 AM on January 23, 2006


I don't recommend that anyone try this on the London Underground, especially not if you look "a bit foreign". Chances are, you'll get shot...
posted by gene_machine at 5:16 AM on January 23, 2006


Gah, knave, tommyc and everyone else. Must read more closely next time...
posted by gene_machine at 5:17 AM on January 23, 2006


Seriously, I don't think you'd get shot if you tried this in London. I've seen people madly dashing for trains recently - because they were late.
posted by adrianhon at 6:07 AM on January 23, 2006


Having said that... don't do anything too stupid (like running away from police).
posted by adrianhon at 6:10 AM on January 23, 2006


The first link, btw, came from jack_mo's blog, but I didn't credit him because I'm a fud and keep all my feeds in the one NetNewsWire folder, so didn't realise.

Sorry Jack!
posted by bonaldi at 7:01 AM on January 23, 2006


Running like a madman in and out London Underground stations might not be the best idea in the present climate.

Yeah, I wouldn't try this right now.
posted by OmieWise at 7:46 AM on January 23, 2006


I bet you could do this on the State Street Subway (Red Line) stations in Chicago.
posted by SisterHavana at 7:49 AM on January 23, 2006


In Edinburgh I once stepped out of my Silver Ghost and had Hamish , the faithful borders butler carry me from one end of Morningside road to the other in a Sedan Chair ere My Chaffeur reached the door of the Canny Mans.
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:30 AM on January 23, 2006


From the pictures, it looks like the Glasgow trains are so small that the people standing next to them have their heads over the level of the train's side walls -- thus the need to have the train doors include part of the sloped ceiling. It looks like a tall person could stand in the train such that the closing door would knock him in the head, or someone getting on the train at the last minute could get a nasty bump. Isn't this dangerous? Or have Glaswegians developed ways to adapt? You'd think this would be one of the first things they'd try to fix as they renovated the line.
posted by purple_frogs at 10:51 AM on January 23, 2006


They are that small. And you can clout yr head off the roof. I often do. But the trains almost fill the tunnels, and can't get much larger. It's cute. Compact. think Subway nano.
posted by bonaldi at 10:57 AM on January 23, 2006


I was thinking Park St. to Boylston, Mayor Curley. You could probably manage it on some of the aboveground Green Line stops too, but that'd be cheating, I think, since the Green Line cars can get held up by traffic. I can't really think of any suitable Red Line or Blue Line stations.

How about running the underground passage from Downtown Crossing to Park Street on the Red line? The passage is pretty much right next to the tracks, and you wouldn't have to go through fare control again.

There is no motion on earth slower than the B branch of the Green Line above ground. I used to beat 2 or 3 of these trains every day, sometimes without even breaking into a run.
posted by purple_frogs at 11:02 AM on January 23, 2006


How about running the underground passage from Downtown Crossing to Park Street on the Red line? The passage is pretty much right next to the tracks, and you wouldn't have to go through fare control again.

The inbound Red Line train (Park Street to Downtown Crossing) also has a tendency to sit for a few extra seconds, giving you precious travel time. And that's not even counting the fact that they take extra time to manually open and close the doors on both sides.

Assuming nobody will try to report you for your madcap dash ("If You See Something, Say Something") you may be able to pull it off. Then again, the way the Red Line is running, you might be able to beat the train from Harvard Square to Central on a typical morning...
posted by Spatch at 11:44 AM on January 23, 2006


They are that small. And you can clout yr head off the roof. I often do.

Bonaldi neglects to mention that he is actually 8' 3". Seriously, though, yes, they're tiny, and anyone visiting Glasgow from a city with a real subway will honk like a bemused goose when confronted with our funny little trains. I like them, though I've more than once had a dunt on the head from the closing doors, particularly when the train's crowded ...
posted by Len at 2:54 PM on January 23, 2006


and Len, you forgot the best part ... the smell!

I guess you could do St Andrew to King on the Toronto subway, though that's missing out one station.

I miss the days of the Milk Crate Gang ...
posted by scruss at 6:51 PM on January 23, 2006


scruss said 'and Len, you forgot the best part ... the smell!'

I'm a connoisseur of the Subway odour - it varies considerably according to the time of day, and day of the week. First thing Sunday morning is especially pungent, with the usual admixture of wet tramp's crotch and congealed kebab heightened by topnotes of alcopop-sick and spilled meat pie. (The true Subway smell afficionado will, of course, aim to step on immediately after the last fan en route to an Old Firm game has stepped off - the sweet musk of sectarian hatred gives the air inside a carriage a uniquely full-bodied, almost visceral character.)

bonaldi said 'Sorry Jack!'

No probs!

posted by jack_mo at 6:59 AM on January 24, 2006


« Older Universal Studios...  |  When George Met Jack... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments