I read once that a bicycle is the most efficient form of transportation in the known universe. I am sure it is not far from the truth. I have always thought that bicycles were magic machines.
Riding a bicycle can be up to 5 times more efficient than walking, and can produce the equivalent of about 950 miles per gallon. Number crunchers carefully calculate such things with wonderful equations such as:
P = gmVg(K1+s) + K2VaVg
E = 1/2mv2 + 1/4mv2 = 3/4mv2
Oooo, it's science. Here is some more:
|One hundred calories can power a cyclist for three miles, |
but would only power a car 280 feet (85 meters)
I have always been impressed with sensible cycling peoples in India, China, and many European countries. As a kid I saw photographs of large Indian and Chinese cities teeming with bicycles, while private vehicles were as rare as persistent killing smog events.
In recent years China has been making the shift from being a 'bicycle kingdom' to one dominated by cars. How sad it is to see former cycling nations make the shift from a sustainable source of transportation to one completely unsustainable.
|Member of Environment's Angels bicycle gang|
That was a big mistake because I came to miss the freedom, enjoyment, and simplicity of walking and biking. But I was destined to return to my beloved cycling eventually.
Part of the problem has been that the auto industry has us sucked right in to the whole car mystique. We feel like we can't live without them, that we are somehow incomplete without hauling our two tons of glass, metal, and rubber around with us everywhere we go.
However, increasingly aware recent generations are not as enthusiastic about car ownership, and the sales of cars is projected to fall in some markets in the future.
|Bicycle cargo carrier from Denmark hauls up to 100kg of freight|
I am also increasingly unenthusiastic about driving. While we still own a vehicle, we only drive it about 3000 km a year, well below the average of 20,000 km.
I find driving less enjoyable than I used to, and instead of being a 'freedom machine' it is beginning to feel more like an anchor.
For shorter trips (below about 20 kms return), I usually ride my bicycle. It keeps me fit, saves money, and is more sustainable. And it is fun.
Based on the principles of energy efficiency and sustainability, there is no contest.
No car can deliver 950 miles per gallon. Nor will you burn much fat while driving.
The bicycle wins.