Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Cyclers use fossil fuels, too

In our economy, cheap energy rules, and it really doesn't matter who you are--Hybrid Driver, Cycler, Walker. I did some quick hunting after Michael's comment about cyclers requiring more calories. Well, Bicycle Universe has a feast of thought provoking statistics (Note: If it's not clear from the site name; the site has an obvious bias). While some of the underlying methods are a bit suspect, thinking is almost always a good thing! Here are a few selections that beeped my cycleradar (references available at the site):

1) Bicycling actually uses fossil fuels, if you consider the fossil fuels that go into producing the food to fuel the cyclist. Eating meat is most wasteful because of all the energy required to produce animal foods, while eating fruits, grains, and vegetables is more efficient.

2) The energy and resources needed to build one medium-sized car could produce 100 bicycles.

3) Bicycling is 117% more efficient than walking.

4) Traffic congestion wastes three billion gallons of gas a year.

5) [Private] Cost per mile is $0.517 [. . .] One interesting thing we can do with the car costs is convert the car costs into time. The average American earns about $17/hr., or $14/hr. after federal taxes. So $7,754 in annual car costs takes 554 hours to earn. That's over three full months of work each year. [We spend about $1200/year on bicycles, which with our hourly income, takes us 92 hours to earn -joe].

6) Average all-day urban automobile speed is about 25 mph, but slower during peak hours.

7) Thirty percent of morning traffic is caused by parents dropping their kids off at school.

The truth is that it's hard to make the case that cycling is hit-you-in-the-pocketbook cheaper than driving. I think it can be, but the logic to get from here to there is not going to convince many. I don't know if you can really convey to non-cyclers the real compensation for riding, which is. . .it's so much more fun!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well said Joe.

Paulcycles in Wheaton IL.

Paul paulcycles@aol.com

9:36 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

Hey Joe:

Interesting post and think I get the overall point. I sure as hell agree that riding for tranport is so much more fun.

Anyway and not that it really matters, but I can't agree with point one on what I seen so far. First, I would say that cycling uses fossil fuels not just in fueling of the cyclist, but in the production of every frame, fork and component on the bike itself.

Further, I think BU makes a weak case for the veggie v. meat eater diet bit. It was hard for me to see from the data he presented on the site exactly what about the *production* of meat inherently uses more FF than the cultivation, harvesting and production of, say, texturized vegtable protein or apple juice from New Zealand.

Maybe I am just being a simple Ohioan here, but from his data it's hard for me to see where meat production goes wrong (I realize it does somewhere).

I doubt the same arguments could be made for venison that is hunted locally and butchered by hand.

8:07 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Hi Jon, Good points. I agree about production of bikes; although, even discounting the longer lifespan of a bike, it seems to require about 1/100th of the resources to build.

We're fortunate to have elk and venison here from friends that hunt, and it only relies on the fuel to drive around hunting. I did meet one fellow who hunts from his bicycle/BOB trailer. Very cool!

I didn't mean to push the meat vs. veggies angle. I was honestly just surprised at some of the findings. Clearly both can and do require lots of fossil fuels, but neither has to, as you point out with wild game.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Kent Peterson said...

Not to wade into one side of the vegan-carnivore wars but here is a link to a guy who does argue in favor of animal-based food production.


11:36 AM  

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