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Is commuting by bike worse for climate change than driving a small car?

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  • heybalesheybales Member Posts: 18,869 Member Member Posts: 18,869 Member
    No way I could eat extra beef for the extra calories burned by biking.

    I know I need carbs if I intend to have another decent workout tomorrow or day after.

    And if I used it for close commutes, the extra food wouldn't be beef either.

    What's the environmental impact of extra M&M's?
  • lemurcat2lemurcat2 Member Posts: 7,297 Member Member Posts: 7,297 Member
    Lietchi wrote: »
    Furthermore, someone who commutes to work on their bicycle might work out less/be less active in their spare time, so they might not even need to consume more calories.

    Good point, and true for me -- when I commuted by bike it would replace my workout (or I would do an extra loop and turn it into my workout). I need to get back into the habit soon.
  • ClimbingWolfClimbingWolf Member Posts: 298 Member Member Posts: 298 Member
    Do you have any links to more research published about this topic? Because I could only see that one source was used in that article, and as media does they took a run with the actual results. I feel like the problem is put in the park of 'us' (consumers) and not where it should be put, the producers (corporate) and law-makers. It is an interesting comparison, no doubt. here is another report I stumbled upon; https://ecf.com/system/files/Quantifying%20CO2%20savings%20of%20cycling.pdf
  • neanderthinneanderthin Member Posts: 7,657 Member Member Posts: 7,657 Member
    Do you have any links to more research published about this topic? Because I could only see that one source was used in that article, and as media does they took a run with the actual results. I feel like the problem is put in the park of 'us' (consumers) and not where it should be put, the producers (corporate) and law-makers. It is an interesting comparison, no doubt. here is another report I stumbled upon; https://ecf.com/system/files/Quantifying%20CO2%20savings%20of%20cycling.pdf

    The one article that wasn't just editorializing was Harvard and Harvard is well, ground zero for plant based nutrition.
  • Theo166Theo166 Member, Premium Posts: 2,528 Member Member, Premium Posts: 2,528 Member
    Neither will make a spit of difference to sea level change, but I think the biker is better for the environment.
    - In USA 70% are overweight or obese. Let's assume the driver is such while the biker is at a healthy weight. The biker will live longer and with far lower medical intervention, which should be a plus for environment.
    - I doubt the food difference is significant, since you are comparing an obese vs healthy weight person who exercises. If anything the biker will eat more carbs, not more protein.
  • kshama2001kshama2001 Member Posts: 24,052 Member Member Posts: 24,052 Member
    steveko89 wrote: »
    Perhaps as consumers we shouldn't feel like we're being held accountable to decades of malpractice by industry and lack of proper government oversight...

    This idea is well illustrated by John Oliver and his piece on plastic recycling. Plastic manufacturers have successfully and shamefully shifted the entire burden onto consumers and local municipalities.

  • mtaratootmtaratoot Member, Premium Posts: 6,278 Member Member, Premium Posts: 6,278 Member
    I just want to thank everyone for engaging in this thread.

    There's lots of good ideas and words here. I think we likely all agree that the specific issue of additional greenhouse gasses from adding physical activity and fueling it with certain foods is out of context. One point that I don't think has come up is that a bicycle is the most efficient means of transportation known to humans. If one were to walk the same distance to commute instead of riding a bike, walking would generate more greenhouse gas all else being equal no matter what you eat to fuel the burn.

    It's also out of context because, as many have pointed out, there are other issues aside from the one that started this dialogue. Materials production. Air pollution. Water pollution from tires/brake dust and fluid leaks. Injuries from high-speed crashes or people not paying attention.

    And riding a bike is just plain fun.

    Thanks again for humoring me and responding respectfully to a silly question. Even if the statement is true, it's not the whole story.

    Maybe I'll go for a ride later.
  • littlegreenparrot1littlegreenparrot1 Member Posts: 510 Member Member Posts: 510 Member
    mtaratoot wrote: »
    I just want to thank everyone for engaging in this thread.

    There's lots of good ideas and words here. I think we likely all agree that the specific issue of additional greenhouse gasses from adding physical activity and fueling it with certain foods is out of context. One point that I don't think has come up is that a bicycle is the most efficient means of transportation known to humans. If one were to walk the same distance to commute instead of riding a bike, walking would generate more greenhouse gas all else being equal no matter what you eat to fuel the burn.

    It's also out of context because, as many have pointed out, there are other issues aside from the one that started this dialogue. Materials production. Air pollution. Water pollution from tires/brake dust and fluid leaks. Injuries from high-speed crashes or people not paying attention.

    And riding a bike is just plain fun.

    Thanks again for humoring me and responding respectfully to a silly question. Even if the statement is true, it's not the whole story.

    Maybe I'll go for a ride later.

    I'm not trying to argue the point, but am a bit baffled by this.

    Why would walking generate more greenhouse gas than cycling?
  • janejellyrolljanejellyroll Member, Premium Posts: 25,741 Member Member, Premium Posts: 25,741 Member
    mtaratoot wrote: »
    I just want to thank everyone for engaging in this thread.

    There's lots of good ideas and words here. I think we likely all agree that the specific issue of additional greenhouse gasses from adding physical activity and fueling it with certain foods is out of context. One point that I don't think has come up is that a bicycle is the most efficient means of transportation known to humans. If one were to walk the same distance to commute instead of riding a bike, walking would generate more greenhouse gas all else being equal no matter what you eat to fuel the burn.

    It's also out of context because, as many have pointed out, there are other issues aside from the one that started this dialogue. Materials production. Air pollution. Water pollution from tires/brake dust and fluid leaks. Injuries from high-speed crashes or people not paying attention.

    And riding a bike is just plain fun.

    Thanks again for humoring me and responding respectfully to a silly question. Even if the statement is true, it's not the whole story.

    Maybe I'll go for a ride later.

    I'm not trying to argue the point, but am a bit baffled by this.

    Why would walking generate more greenhouse gas than cycling?

    I think what's being referenced here is that due to the energy difference needed to fuel walking a specific distance versus biking, the additional food needed to fuel the walking would wind up making a greater impact regardless of the food chosen to provide the additional energy.

    (Note: I haven't seen the math for this statement, but that's what I read it as).
  • mtaratootmtaratoot Member, Premium Posts: 6,278 Member Member, Premium Posts: 6,278 Member
    mtaratoot wrote: »
    I just want to thank everyone for engaging in this thread.

    There's lots of good ideas and words here. I think we likely all agree that the specific issue of additional greenhouse gasses from adding physical activity and fueling it with certain foods is out of context. One point that I don't think has come up is that a bicycle is the most efficient means of transportation known to humans. If one were to walk the same distance to commute instead of riding a bike, walking would generate more greenhouse gas all else being equal no matter what you eat to fuel the burn.

    It's also out of context because, as many have pointed out, there are other issues aside from the one that started this dialogue. Materials production. Air pollution. Water pollution from tires/brake dust and fluid leaks. Injuries from high-speed crashes or people not paying attention.

    And riding a bike is just plain fun.

    Thanks again for humoring me and responding respectfully to a silly question. Even if the statement is true, it's not the whole story.

    Maybe I'll go for a ride later.

    I'm not trying to argue the point, but am a bit baffled by this.

    Why would walking generate more greenhouse gas than cycling?

    I think what's being referenced here is that due to the energy difference needed to fuel walking a specific distance versus biking, the additional food needed to fuel the walking would wind up making a greater impact regardless of the food chosen to provide the additional energy.

    (Note: I haven't seen the math for this statement, but that's what I read it as).

    Yes, that's what I meant.

    The idea that started this thread was some published articles showing that riding a bike could, depending on what you eat, produce more greenhouse gas than driving a car. There's been lots of chat around that idea, and while it may be true under certain circumstances, there's obviously more in the decision rubric than the CO2 generated by food production to fuel a bike ride versus burning petroleum. Bicycling is more efficient than walking, so I made the logical jump that walking is even worse than driving than riding a bike. Riding a unicycle probably be worse than walking, but now I'm speaking beyond my knowledge.
  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Member Posts: 10,442 Member Member Posts: 10,442 Member
    mtaratoot wrote: »
    I just want to thank everyone for engaging in this thread.

    There's lots of good ideas and words here. I think we likely all agree that the specific issue of additional greenhouse gasses from adding physical activity and fueling it with certain foods is out of context. One point that I don't think has come up is that a bicycle is the most efficient means of transportation known to humans. If one were to walk the same distance to commute instead of riding a bike, walking would generate more greenhouse gas all else being equal no matter what you eat to fuel the burn.

    It's also out of context because, as many have pointed out, there are other issues aside from the one that started this dialogue. Materials production. Air pollution. Water pollution from tires/brake dust and fluid leaks. Injuries from high-speed crashes or people not paying attention.

    And riding a bike is just plain fun.

    Thanks again for humoring me and responding respectfully to a silly question. Even if the statement is true, it's not the whole story.

    Maybe I'll go for a ride later.

    I'm not trying to argue the point, but am a bit baffled by this.

    Why would walking generate more greenhouse gas than cycling?

    I think what's being referenced here is that due to the energy difference needed to fuel walking a specific distance versus biking, the additional food needed to fuel the walking would wind up making a greater impact regardless of the food chosen to provide the additional energy.

    (Note: I haven't seen the math for this statement, but that's what I read it as).

    The math checks out, at least if you only consider the energy required to move you around. Wheels are drastically more efficient than legs. You get to sit down while you ride, basically taking weight out of the picture (except uphill obviously, and even then hills are energy storage devices 🙂 - I can cover 20 miles on 0 calories).

    Add in manufacture and shipping of the bike, and who knows?
  • janejellyrolljanejellyroll Member, Premium Posts: 25,741 Member Member, Premium Posts: 25,741 Member
    mtaratoot wrote: »
    I just want to thank everyone for engaging in this thread.

    There's lots of good ideas and words here. I think we likely all agree that the specific issue of additional greenhouse gasses from adding physical activity and fueling it with certain foods is out of context. One point that I don't think has come up is that a bicycle is the most efficient means of transportation known to humans. If one were to walk the same distance to commute instead of riding a bike, walking would generate more greenhouse gas all else being equal no matter what you eat to fuel the burn.

    It's also out of context because, as many have pointed out, there are other issues aside from the one that started this dialogue. Materials production. Air pollution. Water pollution from tires/brake dust and fluid leaks. Injuries from high-speed crashes or people not paying attention.

    And riding a bike is just plain fun.

    Thanks again for humoring me and responding respectfully to a silly question. Even if the statement is true, it's not the whole story.

    Maybe I'll go for a ride later.

    I'm not trying to argue the point, but am a bit baffled by this.

    Why would walking generate more greenhouse gas than cycling?

    I think what's being referenced here is that due to the energy difference needed to fuel walking a specific distance versus biking, the additional food needed to fuel the walking would wind up making a greater impact regardless of the food chosen to provide the additional energy.

    (Note: I haven't seen the math for this statement, but that's what I read it as).

    The math checks out, at least if you only consider the energy required to move you around. Wheels are drastically more efficient than legs. You get to sit down while you ride, basically taking weight out of the picture (except uphill obviously, and even then hills are energy storage devices 🙂 - I can cover 20 miles on 0 calories).

    Add in manufacture and shipping of the bike, and who knows?

    I never really thought about it before this thread, but it does make sense.
  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Member Posts: 10,442 Member Member Posts: 10,442 Member
    Road bikes are actually one of the most energy efficient forms of transportation known. It depends a little how you define "energy efficient" for that because sailing and rafting down a river use 'free' energy.

    Eventually (not in my lifetime) we'll put a swarm of satellites with giant solar panels and futuristic wireless charging in orbit around the sun. Humans are requiring more and more energy, we'll eventually get to the point where the entire planet won't be able to power our gadgets. A Dyson swarm will get us almost unlimited clean energy. I can make 280 watts for hour on a bike, the sun puts out 4×10^26 W for the rest of our existence.
  • mtaratootmtaratoot Member, Premium Posts: 6,278 Member Member, Premium Posts: 6,278 Member
    Road bikes are actually one of the most energy efficient forms of transportation known. It depends a little how you define "energy efficient" for that because sailing and rafting down a river use 'free' energy.

    Eventually (not in my lifetime) we'll put a swarm of satellites with giant solar panels and futuristic wireless charging in orbit around the sun. Humans are requiring more and more energy, we'll eventually get to the point where the entire planet won't be able to power our gadgets. A Dyson swarm will get us almost unlimited clean energy. I can make 280 watts for hour on a bike, the sun puts out 4×10^26 W for the rest of our existence.

    I think bikes are THE most efficient form of transportation period.

    I am a whitewater rafter. Let me tell you that the current can help propel you, but it isn't always going where you want. Rowing is work. In the afternoon, there's often something that starts with a W that blows upstream and can be really hard to row against. I remember day one of my last Grand Canyon trip. It was blowing sideways so hard that I basically had to point the bow at the cliff wall and just keep pulling away from it while the current slowly moved us along.

    Sailing: Hours of tedium punctuated by moments of sheer terror.
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