Many people know that biking is an environmentally clean, fuel free, energy efficient way to get from point A to point B, but do you know how energy efficient and environmentally friendly biking really is?
The only energy biking requires is the energy you put in, otherwise known as calories. According to a study by the World Watch Institute if you convert energy per mile into similar measurements across sources of transportation, in this case, the calorie, you would find that biking is not only more energy efficient then an automobile, it is also more efficient then walking.
Biking burns 35 calories per mile compared to 100 calories per mile from walking, but the big kickers is when you compare bicycles to automobiles. When you convert the energy measurements to calories, automobiles require 1,860 calories per mile!
Riding a bike is also a very environmentally friendly way to get around. This is because bicycles, unlike gas fuel automobiles, do not release C02 (Carbon Dioxide). C02 is a greenhouse gas that is naturally found in the atmosphere and when it is in balance everything is good. Plants and other microorganism use C02 in their lifecycles. The problem occurs when there is too much C02. Too much C02 is caused by an abundance of human generated energy, primarily from burning fossil fuels.
You can think of too much C02 being similar to a bakery that makes bread. Every time the baker receives a bag of flour he produces a loaf of bread which can be enjoyed by the town’s people. When everything is balanced the flour, to bread, to food, ratio keeps the towns people happy and hungry for the next bread delivery. Well imagine that the baker began to receive more and more flour. More and more bread loafs would begin to be produced and the hungry town’s people wouldn’t be able to keep up. Soon, loafs of bread would overflow from the bakery and spill out into the street and if the ratio didn’t find a new balance things could start to get pretty uncomfortable for everyone.
So how much C02 does the average car produce? Well on average a car produces four to six tons of carbon dioxide a year! In other words one gallon of gas can produce roughly 18 – 19 pounds of carbon dioxide! (This of course varies based on your vehicle and the type of fuel you are burning).
But, how much C02 does a bicycle produce? None! Now I know there are many studies that talk about how much C02 is involved in other areas of a cyclist life (ie. diet), but the fact of the matter is even when The European Cyclist Federation (ECF) calculated the life cycles of each mode of transportation into their C02 usage, the bicycle still produces more than 75% less C02.
That is a big difference!
That is a difference you can make simply by replacing a trip you would have taken in your vehicle with your bicycle. By commuting just once or twice a week or by using your bike for short errands or appointments, you can reduce the amount of C02 you emit and burn calories at the same time. It sounds like a win win to us!
So let’s break it down!
Say your commute or errand is just a few miles. The chart below is an approximate energy ratio and C02 reduction you may see. However, keep in mind when it comes to biking, the energy expended depends on how fast you are going as well as your personal measurements. What is listed below is just an average. (Also, you will not burn calories by driving. That is just an analogy 😉 )
Want to know what your Carbon Footprint is? Calculate your Footprint here!