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What's the Carbon Footprint of Bicycling?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the multiply-by-the-trip-to-burning-man dept.

Earth 542

Hugh Pickens writes "Brian Palmer writes that although none of the major manufacturers has released data on their energy consumption and how much greenhouse gas making a bicycle requires, Shreya Dave, a graduate student at MIT, recently estimated that manufacturing an average bicycle results in the emission of approximately 530 pounds of greenhouse gases. Therefore, given a 'typical U.S. diet,' you would have to ride your bike instead of driving for around 400 miles to cover the bike's initial carbon footprint. However, calculating the total environmental impact of a mode of transit involves more than just the easy-to-measure metrics like mileage per gallon. Using a life-cycle assessment, Dave concluded that an ordinary sedan's carbon footprint is more than 10 times greater than a conventional bicycle's (PDF) on a mile-for-mile basis, assuming each survives 15 years and you ride the bike 2,000 miles per year. What about other ways to get to work? According to Dave's life-cycle analysis, the only vehicle that comes close to a bicycle is the peak-hour bus — and it's not really that close. A fully loaded bus is responsible for 2.6 times the carbon emissions total of a bicycle per passenger mile while off-peak buses account for more than 20 times as many greenhouse gases as a bicycle. What about the carbon footprint of walking? 'Walking is not zero emission because we need food energy to move ourselves from place to place,' says environmentalist Chris Goodall. 'Food production creates carbon emissions.'"

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First! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37084854)

First!

Re:First! (1, Funny)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 2 years ago | (#37084920)

What is the carbon footprint of getting the first post? Have some consideration for the planet, man!

Re:First! (1)

gottspeed (2060872) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085108)

What is the carbon foot print of carbon footprint studies? Why don't these savants calculate the reduction in carbon use by using a bike instead of a car every day for a year? Cars take carbon to make too. I wish these scientists and politicians had parents that taught them how to be human instead of cogs in a debt slave construct. For example, its a good idea to tell your kids that if you look for things to bitch about, you'll find them. Guaranteed.

Re:First! (3, Insightful)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085282)

My favorite is the leap from "Well, making solar panels and other clean energy technologies, as well as buses and bicycles, causes pollution, too, so we might as well just keep on truckin' because fuck it."

You know, it doesn't happen very often, but sometimes I really envy those that think that they're going to be raptured up to heaven or something one day, or that the world is going to end in 2012, so that they don't have to worry about a fucking thing in their lives beyond the immediate future. Must be nice to not care at all about the effect you have on the world around you, but I still don't understand why they have to try to prevent anyone else from at least trying. Even if I thought every person around me was going to die in a zombie apocalypse, I'm still not going to slash the tires on their getaway vehicle. Why so many others feel the need to do so is beyond me...

seriously..? (5, Insightful)

cyberstealth1024 (860459) | more than 2 years ago | (#37084858)

The whole carbon footprint thing is overrated. and the carbon credits is just a way to make businesses feel better about wasting and polluting. What's the carbon footprint of sleeping? What's the carbon footprint of sitting on the couch watching TV? What's the carbon footprint of eating a microwave pizza? What's the carbon footprint of teleporting? geez

Re:seriously..? (5, Funny)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37084926)

Someone needs to come up with the carbon footprint of all these studies on the carbon footprint of x.

Re:seriously..? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085458)

But then the study of the carbon footprint needed to do the carbon footprint study of the carbon footprint of bicycling would need to be included. But then the carbon footprint of the study done of the carbon footprint of the study done of the carbon footprint ob bicycling would also have to be done, and so on, and so on, and so on. . . .

Re:seriously..? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37084956)

The whole carbon footprint thing is overrated. and the carbon credits is just a way to make businesses feel better about wasting and polluting. What's the carbon footprint of sleeping? What's the carbon footprint of sitting on the couch watching TV? What's the carbon footprint of eating a microwave pizza? What's the carbon footprint of teleporting? geez

Exactly!

But that brings up a great point in regards to creating sources for green energy. Say for example solar panels or pick whatever technology is on your mind. And NOT just the carbon nonsense crap but what about all the other energy and nasties (waste) that comes out of making a single panel. Digging up the materials, processing, post-processing, etc. Does this really balance out the mythical "free" and "green" energy? It's my opinion that I don't think so and I think a lot people -- and probably all politicians who are only good at arguing -- forget that solar panels don't grow on trees and cost resources to make.

Re:seriously..? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37084958)

I've only skimmed across this paper so I may have missed it, I'm sure the just tyre ware of a car is much much more weight for weight than a bike...
I know my tyres last around 6000, and they're cheap road tyres. MTB would last much longer... :p I just roll down hills and walk up them, adjust for that. :P

Re:seriously..? (-1, Flamebait)

LVSlushdat (854194) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085054)

No shit! The entire population of the Earth could die off tommorrow and the flora/fauna of the Earth would continue to "have a carbon footprint".. of course it would be simply the co2/oxygen and oxygen/co2 exchanges that have been going on for aeons... These environmental wackos are getting crazier and crazier...

Re:seriously..? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085114)

Carbon Dioxide! It's plant food! It's PLANT FOOD!!!!

Seriously, bitches don't know 'bout my photosynthesis.

Re:seriously..? (4, Insightful)

scarboni888 (1122993) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085434)

If the entire population of the Earth died off tomorrow the release of thousands of tons of carbon that is locked up under ground in oceans of oil and mountains of coal would cease to be released into the atmosphere and the carbon dioxide - oxygen exchange would be balanced out, as you point out.

What the 'environmental wackos' are going on about is the EXTRA thousands of tons of carbon being released by human activities that WOULDN'T be there if the entire population of the Earth could die off tomorrow.

To say that we aren't creating any addition of carbon to the ecosystem is disingenuous at best.

Final Carbon Footprint (2)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 2 years ago | (#37084884)

Since the whole carbon footprint thing is so grim, what way of doing myself in has least impact on the atmosphere. I was thinking of getting sucked into a jet engine, killing two birds with one stone as it were.

Re:Final Carbon Footprint (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37084968)

Develop superpowers and launch yourself into space.

Alternatively, sink yourself in a subduction zone.

Re:Final Carbon Footprint (3, Funny)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085146)

Freeze yourself in dry ice in a water proof container and have that sunk to the bottom of the ocean. Your carbon will be sequestered.

How about shoes carbon footprint? (0)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#37084888)

I walk to my shop every day and I am really, really worried how much I contribute to the global warming. Someone should get a grant and research that as well, because I won't be able to sleep otherwise.

Re:How about shoes carbon footprint? (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085210)

Well, obviously, carbon is consumed when they make your shoes, so that means there is no benefit to walking and you might as well get in your car and drive everywhere because global warming is a myth, just like peak oil, foisted upon the masses by liberals who want to make everyone miserable by, uh, making them walk everywhere or ride smelly buses because they hate freedom and/or democracy!

At least, that's what I keep hearing anytime anyone brings up any way to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

Re:How about shoes carbon footprint? (1)

lpp (115405) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085298)

The carbon footprint of insomnia is pretty high too, as you produce more CO2 in a waking cycle than in a sleep cycle, not to mention your likely increased activity levels on electronics or other equipment while you are awake. You're pretty much hosing us all. Get a Humvee, burn a bunch of gas going to the mall, but for heaven's sake, calm down and sleep at night!

Someday we'll look back... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37084894)

...and wonder how so many otherwise intelligent people could have fallen for the pseudo-scientific boondoggle that is AGW hysteria.

Or we'll wonder why more of us didn't accept the hard facts and take the vital steps to save our world from self-destruction.

Like everybody else, I have my suspicions, but I don't really know which will occur.

This manufacturer may have changed the numbers... (4, Interesting)

SwedishChef (69313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37084914)

By growing his bamboo bicycle frame into the shape he wants. Fairly cool!

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2008/09/growing-bamboo/ [wired.com]

Re:This manufacturer may have changed the numbers. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37084964)

How about this thing [leevalley.com] ?
It's entirely made of wood.

Re:This manufacturer may have changed the numbers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085066)

There's nothing in the picture to suggest he's actually "shaping" the bamboo at all.
All the bamboo parts of the bike appear to be straight - with plenty of "hemp epoxy composite" to hold it all together.

Re:This manufacturer may have changed the numbers. (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085170)

Nor is there anything on his website to describe that either, after a quick gleaning and reading of the marketing pdf. I therefore blame Wired for a bad article and instead link the homepage [calfeedesign.com] of said bikes for further convenience.

Seems like a lot of work (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37084932)

to calculate something that is fairy obvious and intuitive to most people.

Respiration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37084946)

Every animal has a carbon "footprint".
Some bacteria probably dont. But even yeast makes CO2 when fermenting.
It would be pretty funny to see the carbon footprint measurement applied to microscopic life (ad absurdum). Damn bacteria, polluting our air and making our cheese enviromentally unfriendly! Now I have to be vegan!

What's the carbon footprint of a plant? It's negative right?

Re:Respiration (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085080)

What's the carbon footprint of a plant? It's negative right?

Wrong. The plant's carbon footprint is only "negative" when photosynthesis happens, and not all the time even then.

Sounds pretty easy (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37084948)

I'd be surprised if there were many bicycle owners who didn't do 400 miles in one year, especially if they're using them for a daily commute. 2 miles each way every weekday will do that in 6 months. And bikes last for years. Mine used to belong to my father, who did 20 mile rides on it on a regular basis.

The 'instead of driving' thing makes this a bit more complex though. I don't have a car, so most of the time I use the bike the alternatives would be walking or getting a bus. The energy usage of the bike versus walking is difficult - going in to town I need to pedal about three times to coast there. Coming back, there's a gentle slope where it's about as much effort as walking, followed by a steep hill where the wheels aren't much help and I have to lift the mass of the bike as well as myself up the hill. If I bought a car, then I'd have to factor the cost of producing the car into the calculations.

Re:Sounds pretty easy (2)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085016)

Here in the UK I would reckon that most bicycles are or occasional leisure use. I agree that bicycle commuters and cycle couriers will easily do 400 miles a year, but I reckon most bicycles hardly ever come out of the shed between Sundays, and then only in the summer.

Re:Sounds pretty easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085070)

WTF? I live in Norway and bike to work all year, all weather, all driving conditions. Get some clothing and winter tires, and be a man - or a woman, my girlfriend does it too. Also, in the UK it doesn't snow (not by our standards), so you don't even need winter tires.

Re:Sounds pretty easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085128)

In the small UK town i live in I see quite a lot of people cycling regularly. I personally go through 3 sets of tyres a year so it could be the people i hang around with.

Re:Sounds pretty easy (1)

Joe Jay Bee (1151309) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085248)

I live in Portsmouth. We have lots of cycle routes and many, many people who cycle everywhere. Admittedly Portsmouth is a relatively small city geographically, but biking is a very popular option for getting around here (especially given the absurdly tiny initial and ongoing investments for a cycle compared to a car, and the absolutely insane parking problems we have here).

Re:Sounds pretty easy (1)

nogginthenog (582552) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085268)

Certainly in London I'm seeing a lot more cycles on the roads than in the past. Perhaps it's because the cost of public transport is always increasing.

I doubt even your 2 mile one way guy will do it (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085222)

because just like with motorcycles... one day its too hot, then its too cold, oh I am late, its raining or will, snow?!?!, rabid weasel alert, and so on.

People make all sorts of wonderful justifications but most never stick with it. Many also don't have the opportunity to ride to work. We usually settle down and work where we can especially in a market like this. Let alone having a job where riding to work and being able to clean up is a possibility.

Free Markets to the rescue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37084950)

I say do nothing.

1. Keep burning fossil fuels. Eventually they'll become so expensive, no one can afford them.
2. Let Global Warming happen. It will cause so much havoc with crop yields, sea level rises, fisheries collapsing, disease and whatnot, that it will force correction of the base problem.
3. The base problem is that you have 7 billion people all trying to live like Americans. The planet cannot support that level of consumption; hence it will be self correcting.

Summary: CO2 footprint from creating bicycle lanes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37084952)

According to the article the major contribution to the CO2 footprint is the construction of infrastructure. They divide the construction cost of bicycle infrastructure with the number of bicycles to get a CO2 footprint. So the argument goes: If there were twice as many bicycles then we would need twice as many bicycle lanes.

Re:Summary: CO2 footprint from creating bicycle la (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085348)

The costs and resources for segregated lanes should be assigned to motorized traffic. Cars and trucks are what make roadways so dangerous that people can't walk or ride bikes on them without putting their lives in peril.

Without cars and trucks, you wouldn't need separate bike lanes.

Emissions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37084954)

A serious question I've always had for this crowd is, what are the big picture ramifications for http://goo.gl/fFOhB [goo.gl] this mode of transport?

Flawed (5, Funny)

kmdrtako (1971832) | more than 2 years ago | (#37084960)

Let's see, walking is not zero carbon because of the food energy.

After the carbon cost of making the bike, biking's not zero carbon either, for the same reason.

But I only ride my bike for exercise, thus I don't save anything vis-a-vis my commute to work, and I have the food energy cost. Therefore my bike riding definitely has a carbon footprint.

Oh noes. Guess I better stop riding and turn into an obese blob for the sake of the environment.

Re:Flawed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085040)

Don't you get it, man? We need to stop eating completely! Our rapacious appetites are killing the planet!! Suicide is the only way to save our planet!

But, wait. Someone will have to dig a grave.... and that will require energy....

Homer: It's times like this I wish I were a religious man.
Lovejoy: [running down the street] It's all over, people! We don't havea prayer, argh...

Re:Flawed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085424)

That wouldn't make you a religious man. It would make you an idiot. Jesus specifically said nobody can know when the end will be to prevent idiots from screeching "The end is near!"
The only Christians you will here saying that are ones that don't understand their own religion, and I don't know of any other religion that has given an end date to the world.
Of course, your comment only shows that you don't understand religion either for that matter, but hey it's cool to bash things we don't understand right?

Re:Flawed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085166)

Well, if we would just stop eating coal and drinking crude, everything would be OK! I hear there is this great new bio-fuel called food that drastically offsets the released carbon by capturing a lot of it back during production!

Re:Flawed (1)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085224)

Or you could just exercise on your way to work, saves time too. :) (or if its too far to bike, bike to a train/subway station or bus stop and use public transit from there.)

Entropy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085306)

Like all forms of life, we increase the entropy of our environment. Good thing we have a sun adding more energy to it all the time.

If our carbon footprint is excessive, we will make the world unlivable by ourselves a bit sooner. But we will never get to a zero carbon footprint so long as we are alive, and therefore I think we would better direct our efforts at economically viable solutions, rather than just trying to guilt-trip people into doing the impossible.

People who don't like bike-riding are not going to bike to work, no matter how much you yammer on about their car's environmental impact.

Find a different solution.

pseudo science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37084986)

I dump tons of carbon into the environment each day driving my big lifted jeep to work, and some days, I even drive my bigger F350 diesel truck, just because I can. AND, AND, on the weekends I take my RV and boat out and play, dumping even more carbon. I don't feel the slightest bit guilty about any of it, nor do I give a damn whether the morons who come with this garbage like it.. Carbon footprint, another bit of greenie garbage pseudo science, just like the social science feel good crap they've been foisting on the world for generations.

Even if making a bicycle leaves a carbon footprint (5, Interesting)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37084990)

...it is still going to save the rider in gas money (provided they're riding the thing whenever they can, obviously a bike rotting in a garage does no one any good).

I see a lot of people screaming left and right about how all these technologies like mass transit and solar power and such are "just as bad", but the end result is always the assertion that "we should just do whatever because nothing we do will ever help so screw it". Here in Madison, WI, where there are a fair number of cyclists, there are still those people that go out of their way to prevent them from riding. Every article about a bike riding event warrants thousands of comments about how much these people wish they could go drive over the riders in their Canyonero and other such crap.

Every little bit helps, does it not? And why so much hostility for green energy initiatives? Are we just going to keep on burning oil and coal for power? I mean, clearly we need to start coming up with alternatives, right?

Pedestrians are green and can bleed red, too. (5, Insightful)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085226)

"Here in Madison, WI, where there are a fair number of cyclists, there are still those people that go out of their way to prevent them from riding. "

Like pedestrians . . . (cue snare drum rim shot).

Have you ever tried to cross Randall at Dayton on foot? With the walk sign on? With some fine upstanding citizen on a 15-speed bombing through the red light? Or at that marked crosswalk across University near where Bob's Copy Shop in University used to be? When that walk sign is on, I guess the red light for the cross traffic doesn't apply to cyclists in the bike lane.

Of course, as a pedestrian, you are never of any danger of being hit, with the force of an NFL free safety making a flying tackle, only taking the hit, on cement, without helmet or pads, because the cyclists know how to weave around any pedestrian who dares to enter a crosswalk.

Seriously and all snark aside, I would have a lot more sympathy for the concerns of cyclists if there was a little more respect for people on foot. Is that so anti-green?

Re:Pedestrians are green and can bleed red, too. (3, Insightful)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085366)

There are shitty riders out there, just like there are shitty drivers. There are even shitty walkers, too...I've spent upwards of 20 minutes at various lights all over the downtown area because I had the bad luck of being at that intersection during change of classes and the 12,000 students in the building started streaming across the street whether there was a WALK symbol or not.

I will be the first person to cheer when they put crossing guards at every intersection that can ticket people for jaywalking and ignoring the laws concerning biking in traffic, believe me. But I'm not gonna advocate building retaining walls around every sidewalk in the city to prevent it because that's ridiculous, just like how I would never just drive through the red I've sat through 18 times because the kids changing classes couldn't care less about the light because pedestrians have the right of way no matter where they fuck they are.

Re:Even if making a bicycle leaves a carbon footpr (1)

Joe Jay Bee (1151309) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085276)

I do find it stupid how people seem opposed to getting off fossil fuels etc because "it won't help". Yeah... but how about we not burn fossil fuels and drive everywhere because pumping noxious gases into the atmosphere and slowly getting fatter are bad things?

That said, I've seen plenty of inconsiderate dickish cyclists who cycle on pavements and such. Of an evening I usually walk for exercise along Southsea Esplanade in Portsmouth (esplanade = long paved section alongside the sea), which itself has a long cycle lane alongside its entire length. The number of cretins I see cycling on the esplanade and completely ignoring the cycle lanes is really beginning to grate...

The point should be reducing carbon emissions inst (1)

areusche (1297613) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085006)

We live in a system where our living causes carbon to be outputted. The point should be to reduce that footprint so the natural sources can take it out of our atmosphere or do whatever with it. The carbon footprint of a bike vs a car is crazy different. Hell I don't think most people realize that buying a new car instead of fixing an old one is better for the environment. The summary even goes to point out that walking isn't carbon neutral. DUH growing food costs energy. Sometimes I wonder how people can be so short sighted when it comes to highly complicated systems. They see only one step in front of them. Very sad

Easy solution (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085010)

I bought a used bike.

Additional benefit: I can leave it outside in the city all the time without worrying about it being stolen.

Re:Easy solution (1)

HeLLFiRe1151 (743468) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085050)

I usually just steal a used bike when I'm in the city.

Re:Easy solution (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085200)

Like I care. Not only is my bike unattractive enough to discourage stealing, it was also cheap enough that I can replace it many, many times for the price of a similar new bike.

does not matter (-1, Troll)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085012)

for now on every time i see some lefty-greenie environmental whacko complain about my carbon footprint i am going to go in the back yard and burn a truck tire, yeah breathe that black sooty smoke while you bow down and kiss Al Gore's fat butt

My habit (2, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085014)

you would have to ride your bike instead of driving for around 400 miles to cover the bike's initial carbon footprint.

And my 11 mile round trip to and from work? Already covered in two months of the first year.

Bikes also damage roads far less than cars do. A heavy bicycle weighs around 30 pounds

Slightly misleading, as it doesn't take into account the 170-pound rider on the bicycle. But I've read that the damage done to a road by a vehicle is somewhere between the third and fourth power of the weight per axle.

My current way of getting to and from work is a bicycle during good weather or an off-peak bus during rain and during late fall and winter. But the article says off-peak buses are horrid. Should I change it?

Re:My habit (2)

turtledawn (149719) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085046)

The city is going to run the bus anyway - your best bet is convince other people to ride the bus with you.

Re:My habit (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085344)

Yeah, that's a tricky aspect of public-transit accounting. In particular, you can't decouple every bus from every other bus, because choices to use the system depend in large part on the overall system. If you cut all past-9pm buses, you might save a bunch of money and carbon emissions looking just at those buses, but you might also depress ridership on the daytime buses, because suddenly people are worried that they'll get stranded at work if something comes up and they have to stay late, so better play it safe and drive.

To properly account for what, say, the 10pm-midnight buses are doing, you need a more systemic analysis that predicts what would happen to the usage of various modes of transit, including at other times of the day, if those buses were decreased/increased/cancelled/kept-the-same.

This is also a common problem with spacing: it's tempting to think, we have N passengers an hour and run a bus every 10 minutes, but N/2 totally fit in a bus, so we could really improve our finances if we just ran a bus every 30 minutes instead. But when the bus runs every 30 minutes rather than 10 minutes, a lot fewer people take it.

Off peak bus double carbon foot print of car? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085028)

So if I read this right an off peak bus has twice the carbon footprint of a car. Nice.

I do not have a carbon footprint (-1, Flamebait)

pipelinesafety (1551317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085030)

I have a size 13 carbon boot that I regularly shove just as far up mother earth's ass as I can. I live large and I play large. This nation (USA) is the greatest on the face of the earth despite Obama and the libtards trying to ruin it. We carry the planet on our backs as far as helping other countries and I figure we are entitled to a little leeway when it comes to the size of a "carbon footprint" (whatever the hell that is supposed to mean). So ride a bicycle if you want. I had a job starting when I was twelve years old and that is how I got to work. But when I turned sixteen I bought a used car with the money I had earned and left the bicycle part of my childhood behind. Grown men drive cars and trucks. How can you provide for your wife with a bicycle? "Honey, I need to go to the hospital." "Sure, just jump on the back of my ten speed." Jeezzz.

Re:I do not have a carbon footprint (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085082)

This nation (USA) is the greatest on the face of the earth

[citation needed]

Re:I do not have a carbon footprint (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085230)

If you need one then I suggest you find your own. History may be a good place for you to start.

Pure LOL (-1, Flamebait)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085042)

It has been assumed that, in the United States, a commuter will not change her eating habits if she switches from driving to walking to work,

LOL you've got to be kidding, or have never exercised, or at least have never seen other people exercise. Lots of fat bikers around here, because they burn 50 calories on a leisurely sunday afternoon cruise, then rationalize to themselves that the double bacon cheeseburger for lunch mon-fri is OK because they exercised.

Also accident rates are spectacularly higher for bikes, walking, etc, and the energy cost of medical care (or early disability / death) is probably a huge multiple of the energy consumed by the bike... I mean think about it, if that ER visit costs $10K worth of energy, that kinda swamps the cost of a nice $500 worth of energy in a bike.

Even worse, don't forget that it takes ten pounds of crude oil to deliver a pound of food to a plate, when everything is added together. The energy cost of a pound of olive oil is not how much CO2 released when you burn it, its all the CO2 it takes to make it, which is a large multiple of the energy contained in the food. This makes taking a bike ten times worse of an idea.

When I drive, the majority of my energy cost is at the gas pump. When I bike, the majority of my energy cost is medical, followed by food, and manufacture and infrastructure cost, which is all that was covered in the study, is practically lost in the noise.

For me, that bike trip would be a round trip of 40 miles per day. I live in a civilized area so that's less than an hour per day in the car, but on foot that would be a good 10 hours per day of walking. High density has severe negative costs, that's why the vast majority of the worlds population does not voluntarily live in high density conditions. The energy cost of replicating downtown Manhattan and forcing the population at gunpoint to live there cannot be ignored.

You can't avoid the distance issue w/ walking by claiming people would move within a mile to walk, because if they could, they would move within a mile to drive, if that area were both safe and affordable to live in.

Re:Pure LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085182)

When you drive you don't eat or go to the doctor?

Re:Pure LOL (5, Interesting)

portforward (313061) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085448)

Even worse, don't forget that it takes ten pounds of crude oil to deliver a pound of food to a plate, when everything is added together.

Look, you need to be careful when you use statistics from sources that don't spell out exactly how the figure is generated. A quick google http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_does_one_gallon_of_crude_oil_weigh [answers.com] search of how much oil weighs per gallon comes up with about 7 pounds per gallon for light sweet crude. Now, today's oil price for West Texas Intermediate is $85 per barrel http://www.oil-price.net/ [oil-price.net] . There are 42 gallons per barrel so the cost per pound is

42 gallons * 7 pounds per gallon = 294 pounds for a barrel

$85 / 294 pounds = .29 cents per pound

So according to your statement above, food requires 10 pounds of oil per pound of food, SO the average pound of food should cost at least $2.90 because that is how much it would take to cover just the cost of oil. It ignores cost of land, labor, equipment, seed, or processing and profit to farmer and retailer. Sorry, that doesn't sound right. Staples (corn, rice, wheat, potatoes) certainly don't cost that much per pound. Legumes don't. Most fresh fruit doesn't. Milk doesn't. Cheese will, but some cheeses on sale won't. Vegetable oil doesn't. Olive oil might. Most meat will cost at least that much. Maybe the figure you quoted was just referring to meat or processed foods.

In any case, before you use figures, just make sure that number makes sense. (I am reminded of the time in college when as a grader in a physics class, the students were asked to find how high a pressurized leak on a water tank would shoot into the air. Two student's answers had the water at escape velocity speeds, sending them into orbit the earth.)

Lord have mercy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085062)

I ride my bike for two reasons and two reasons only: To lose weight and [uh]....make that one reason.

I used to bike to work because we had shower facilities. Now that I work somewhere without showers I no longer bike to work....even though work is only 2-1/2 miles.

I still bike when I can so I can look good for strippers.

Medical System's Carbon Footprint (1)

scarboni888 (1122993) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085086)

Also by riding year round and not owning a car how much of the medical systems' resources am I saving versus being the same person and driving instead all my life? That should be calculated too.

We have now passed into the absurd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085104)

"Walking requires food production" How about just being alive; forget the food. We breath, burp and fart.

That's why you don't include the food (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085126)

Its actually somewhat misleading to include food-footprint in this analysis.

Firstly it has a bad history - such as people comparing food consumption with oil consumption while ignoring the food consumption of the car occupant.

Secondly, and more importantly, because it's non-standard. Comparing CO2 emissions is hard because all sorts of areas overlap. Therefore there's some commonly accepted approaches. Among them is to separate CO2 emissions from food production from CO2 from personal transportation. This way you can say "A person has a Carbon footprint of X. Y% of this is from their diet and Z% is on their personal transportation". It avoids making dubious assumptions about people's activities, (such as assuming car occupants eat only the calories they need and are not overweight, or that all cycle routes are flat, or whatever).

It is also much more useful for comparison and policy making - for example the logical response to finding that people have large food-related carbon footprints is to address food production methods, not to make people exercise less!

Social Engineering (1)

gottspeed (2060872) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085144)

The idea isn't to get us to recognize how much we're damaging the earth. The idea is to get us to believe that by virtue of our existence we're messing up the earth for our elite powers that be. Which of course is nonsense, the earth had plenty more carbon floating around before we got here, which plants happily turned into oxygen for us. Plant more trees instead of selling them across borders to make enough government cash to pay your fat pension. Someone should figure out the carbon footprint of government.

Re:Social Engineering (2)

scarboni888 (1122993) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085392)

There was a lot of carbon locked up in oceans of oil and mountains of coal underneath the earth's surface which is being increasingly released into the atmosphere over the last hundred years. This amount of carbon was not 'floating' around in the ecosystem because it was locked up underground but now, since the industrial revolution, it is being released into the ecosystem at a rate that would never be possible naturally. This is otherwise known as the 'carbon footprint'.

Walking IS zero! (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085174)

To say "walking isn't zero" is an obvious case of having an incorrect measure. A human needs food energy to exist. The increase in food energy used for the human to walk isn't necessarily a subtraction from the input. The human might eat 3 big macs a day. Just one of them might be necessary to fuel the humans walking energy needs (I'm assuming the walk less than 100 meters per day). if the human eats 3 big macs per day; walks monday through friday but does not walk for the rest of the week there is no measurable carbon consumption than if the human walked all 7 days whilst consuming 3 big macs per day. 21 Big Macs Consumed == 21 Big Macs Consumed. It is absurd to believe a human will only eat if they need to then expend energy.

Does not compute (5, Insightful)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085184)

The manufacturing process of the bicycle will have roughly the carbon footprint of manufacturing a car door. And these researchers want us to think you have to put 400 miles on the bike before break-even?

I'm sorry, but if they can make such an obvious biased mistrake, why should anybody give even a moment's thought to the rest of their study?

Cheers,

b&

Re:Does not compute (2)

friedmud (512466) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085452)

Not that I agree witht the article... but I think they are assuming you already own a car... and are thinking of buying a bike to be "greener".

In that scenario you've already expended the carbon for manufacturing the car and they are trying to tell you how much you would have to bike to break even on carbon after purchasing a bike...

Re:Does not compute (1)

rtaylor (70602) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085460)

They began with the assumption you still bought a car so the bicycle was additional.

The math is quite different if you buy the bicycle instead of a car.

Puhleeze get a life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085186)

How about the carbon footprint it took me to read this or the research used to produce this. Good Lord, please stop considering Al Gore serious...

What about the people who make the bike? (0)

pinkeen (1804300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085188)

What about the people who make the bike? Did they take into account how much they eat?

I am surprised they didn't count in the CO2 we exhale. Imagine that - living is not zero emission, let's commit a group suicide in the name of our mother earth.

Enough of this BS.

electric bikes! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085202)

THE most environmentally-friendly option is electric bikes. They are more efficient, in terms of running power, than electric cars (and have much less material in them, with the inherent advantages); they do not suffer from ridership issues like mass transit (most routes do not operate at capacity during busy times, let alone late at night); and when the local grid is fossil-fuel based, human-powered biking burns more fossil fuels than e-biking, due to the fossil fuels used in fertilizing, processing and transporting food (even for vegetarians).

Let that last one sink in. Burning coal to power an electric bike is more environmentally friendly than eating a vegetarian diet and pedalling!

Some people should just shut up. (1)

GeekDork (194851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085246)

Ride the wave, get some public exposure, but in the end they just spouted some rubbish.

I wonder what the carbon footprint of all that fake research is.

food energy carbon costs (1)

starless (60879) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085252)

"because we need food energy to move ourselves from place to place"

But that's only a second or third order effect. The carbon in the vegetation or dead animal bits that you eat are generally from farmed sources and so are replaced with carbon from the air. The carbon cost is only from doing the farming (e.g. non-carbon neutral tractors). And of course you need to eat anyway, and the increase in food consumption is likely to be small for most people.

Need for exercise. (1)

Eevee (535658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085272)

While it's true that the production of food used as fuel for the biking (or walking) creates carbon emissions, you have to balance it against the need to exercise. So you should compare the carbon emissions for the driving plus the carbon spent on exercising at the gym to balance things out. (Of course, some people don't exercise, so you should add in the carbon emissions of the hospital stays after their heart attacks or strokes...)

Health benefits (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085292)

Reduced medical costs from better health need to be included, too. I commute to work on a bicycle, lost 40+ pounds and feel better all around. Before that it was just recreational riding.

Other benefits: sharper reasoning. If everybody rode a bike Obama would still be a 'community organizer' in Chicago, keeping a small number of people poor and dependent on the government. Now he does this for the whole country.

Road rage would disappear, too. Regular physical activity reduces stress.

And after the initial 400 miles it's all gravy. A good set of tires (Schwalbe Marathon+) lasts 3 or more years. I have studded tires for winter use and they should be good for 4-5 years.

WFH, Bitches. (1)

NonUniqueNickname (1459477) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085308)

Here's a novel way to reduce your commute carbon footprint by 20% or even 40%: Work from home one or two days a week. I WFH 5 days a week. No commute. No A/C. Almost no showers. What could be greener? Now, if I could only find someone to pay me money for this work...

Final Solution to the Carbon Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085320)

destroy all life on earth!

-- the author of this post is a Star Trek Fan AND a German

2000 miles a year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085346)

Going to work I have done in the past 7 miles per day to 14 miles per day, about 250 days per year (not counting week end biking, or doing 400 miles on a trip). That is about 1750 to 3500 miles per year (actually counting week end I have on my bike i have nowadays about 2200 per year). That is quite an heavy usage...

Photosysthesis (1)

Tomahawk (1343) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085350)

'Food production creates carbon emissions.'

luckily photosysthesis eats up some of that carbon...

The world cannot be completely 0 emissions or all the plants would die off once the CO2 is all gone.

(But yeah, we still need to reduce the amount of CO2 we pump out)

Reduced Carbon Cycling in Austin (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085420)

Dead people have a smaller carbon footprint. Cycling in the current 107 degree heat through heavy traffic is a sure way to achieve that reduction.

Zero carbon footprint (1)

hahn (101816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37085428)

Therefor, given a 'typical U.S. diet,' you would have to ride your bike instead of driving for around 400 miles to cover the bike's initial carbon footprint.

So building a car has a zero initial carbon footprint? Seriously, I consider myself to be a pretty environmentally friendly, but these studies are ridiculous because they imply that we shouldn't put out ANY carbon into the atmosphere. Well, why don't we just wipe out all life on earth then? What we should be more concerned about is carbon balance. If we produce carbon emissions, we need to find a way to convert that carbon back into a non-gaseous form. Without industrial production, plant life can easily do that. With the mass development of industry and machinery, we need to find ways to augment it.

Best to drive, then use stationary bike (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37085472)

If somebody is overweight, at all, and that person is burning off fat that he/she should burn off anyway; would that not affect the calculations?

What if somebody rode a bike to work, instead of going to the gym?

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