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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 02-13-07, 02:22 PM   #1
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Even More Proof that Bikes=Good, Cars=Bad

http://www.dispatch.com/science/scie...213-D6-00.html

From the Columbus Dispatch, 13 Feb, 2007
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Old 02-13-07, 03:52 PM   #2
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Excellent article, thanks for sharing. I'm going to have my co-workers read it, they can't seem to understand why I think it's a bad idea for one of the gals (who's getting re-married next month) to have yet another child. She has three already and just wants one more with her new hubby.
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Old 02-14-07, 07:23 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by TreeUnit
http://www.dispatch.com/science/scie...213-D6-00.html

From the Columbus Dispatch, 13 Feb, 2007
Cars are certainly in the "very bad" category, while bikes are certainly much less of a problem. Beef eaters chew up more water and grain resources than vegetarians. Most of our energy consumption, however, goes up the chimney in our homes. So a vegetarian who rides a bike would be a great combination, as long as she can remember to turn the lights off.
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Old 02-14-07, 09:10 AM   #4
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Actually the US and most western countries can support populations much larger than they currently have. The overpopulation problem is limited to a few countries in Asia and Africa. We in the west have no reason to feel guilty about having lots of kids, it's the Indians and the Bangledeshis who need to stop.

The whole myth of the US being a paved country is nonsense. Only something like 10% of it is built up IIRC, the rest is empty. You could take the world's entire population and put them in Texas and it would have no higher a population density than New York City. And the world is overproducing food and most other resources too, the problem isn't a lack of resources it's that they're too unevenly distributed, a problem which is slowly but surely improving as the rest of the world gets wealthier.
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Old 02-14-07, 01:12 PM   #5
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reminds me of this clip....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFldLfx85DY
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Old 02-14-07, 01:16 PM   #6
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Hmmm...

Maybe we are "goats" of intergalactic travelers. I say lets kill each other so there will be nothing left when the come back to eat us.
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Old 02-14-07, 01:23 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Spaceman Spiff
Actually the US and most western countries can support populations much larger than they currently have. The overpopulation problem is limited to a few countries in Asia and Africa. We in the west have no reason to feel guilty about having lots of kids, it's the Indians and the Bangledeshis who need to stop.

The whole myth of the US being a paved country is nonsense. Only something like 10% of it is built up IIRC, the rest is empty. You could take the world's entire population and put them in Texas and it would have no higher a population density than New York City. And the world is overproducing food and most other resources too, the problem isn't a lack of resources it's that they're too unevenly distributed, a problem which is slowly but surely improving as the rest of the world gets wealthier
.
I'm not sure that you understood the article. One point was that although the US has a lower population than India, we actually use more resources. So it isn't right to blame current problems on India and other less developed nations.

Overpopulation is actually not the only problem, or even the main problem. The squandering of resources by a few wealthy nations is a bigger piece of the problem.
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Old 02-14-07, 01:26 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by The Columbus Dispatch
Tom Waite, an Ohio State University ecologist, bikes to work to conserve energy. "Some days it’s stupid, but I do it anyway," he said.
What do y'all think Tom Waite meant by this?
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Old 02-14-07, 01:33 PM   #9
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What do y'all think Tom Waite meant by this?
Maybe that cycling past a certain point, i.e. consuming more food than is needed for the optimum level of exercise is nearly as bad as driving a fuel efficient car. O.k. Probably not. I'd wager he's talking about the weather/circumstances.... But it'd be neat to know how an ecologist views the fossil fuel energy needed to bring a calorie of food to the table.
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Old 02-14-07, 01:42 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by lyeinyoureye
Maybe that cycling past a certain point, i.e. consuming more food than is needed for the optimum level of exercise is nearly as bad as driving a fuel efficient car. O.k. Probably not. I'd wager he's talking about the weather/circumstances.... But it'd be neat to know how an ecologist views the fossil fuel energy needed to bring a calorie of food to the table.
He probably buys locally produced food, like I do. Or maybe, also like me, his body is well conditioned, he doesn't ride like every commute is a time trial, and he therefore doesn't even eat more than some fat cager.
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Old 02-14-07, 03:00 PM   #11
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O Rly? And this probably is based off of...
Buying locally produced alone doesn't mean much. Just like buying based on the catchall phrase "organic" doesn't. Depending on the food in question, the fossil fuel inputs can be higher than other foods that aren't local. Unless you can detail what the fossil fuel inputs of your fuel consist of, any talk is just that.
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Old 02-14-07, 03:09 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by lyeinyoureye
O Rly? And this probably is based off of...
Buying locally produced alone doesn't mean much. Just like buying based on the catchall phrase "organic" doesn't. Depending on the food in question, the fossil fuel inputs can be higher than other foods that aren't local. Unless you can detail what the fossil fuel inputs of your fuel consist of, any talk is just that.
A second advantage of locally grown is that you usually know the people who grow the food, and you can ask them questions about their fuel usage or anything else. Hell, you can even ride out there and observe the growing conditions, which I have done several times. And pick up 15 pounds of tomatoes and a bunch of basil while you're there.

Obviously, if two stalks of celery were grown under the same organic conditions, but one stalk was shipped by refrigerated diesel truck from California to Michigan, while the second was shipped by van or even bicycle from a farm 10 miles away.... Well, you do the math.
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Old 02-14-07, 03:18 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Roody
I'm not sure that you understood the article. One point was that although the US has a lower population than India, we actually use more resources. So it isn't right to blame current problems on India and other less developed nations.

Overpopulation is actually not the only problem, or even the main problem. The squandering of resources by a few wealthy nations is a bigger piece of the problem.
Well said, Roody. AND governments of less-industrialised nations have bought completely into the Western capitalist schema of hyper-consumption, which means that countries like India & the PRC will be coming on line as major resource destroyers, as we already have. (And without pesky environmental laws or labor rights, in line with the doctrine of "Free Trade", a euphemism for a free hand for the exploiters.)
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Old 02-14-07, 03:24 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Roody
A second advantage of locally grown is that you usually know the people who grow the food, and you can ask them questions about their fuel usage or anything else. Hell, you can even ride out there and observe the growing conditions, which I have done several times. And pick up 15 pounds of tomatoes and a bunch of basil while you're there.
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Originally Posted by lyeinyoureye
Unless you can detail what the fossil fuel inputs of your fuel consist of, any talk is just that.
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Old 02-14-07, 05:49 PM   #15
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One point was that although the US has a lower population than India, we actually use more resources.
For now... Wait 20 or 30 years and India will catch up.
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Old 02-14-07, 06:24 PM   #16
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Now don't shoot the messenger, but I did read somewhere that cycling was actually bad for the environment, as it does you such good that you survive so much longer that you go on to consume much more resources in your life than a non-cyclist that you actually negate the good you do.
Like I said, don;t shoot the messanger. I just read it somewhere, and am just passing it on, and indeed would advise everyone to cycle and recycle and all the other things that are god for the planet.
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Old 02-14-07, 07:00 PM   #17
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Ah, jes, this has been mentioned before. And there very well may be confounds, such as a tendency of a stereotypical bicyclist to use fewer resources in the first place. Etc... Which is probably true to an extent, but imo the point of that article was that single variable studies are limited.
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Old 02-14-07, 08:46 PM   #18
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but I did read somewhere that cycling was actually bad for the environment, as it does you such good that you survive so much longer that you go on to consume much more resources in your life than a non-cyclist that you actually negate the good you do.
I highly doubt that someone who cycles their entire life would use more resources than someone who drives their entire life.

(using info from terrapass.com)
Let's say the average person's housing creates 25,000 lbs of CO2 per year

Now, let's say the bicyclist and the cager start living by themselves, and transporting themselves. when they turn 20.

Using the figures for the 2007 Honda Civic automatic (a rather average car), the driver would create aprx. 6,700 lbs of CO2 waste per year.

Now, let's assume they both live until 50. Again, assuming they both have average housing, and the only difference in their lives is their means of transport:

The cyclist has created: 750,000 lbs of CO2
The driver has created: 951,000 lbs of CO2

Using this, the cyclist could continue living for over 8 years longer than the driver without having more of a negative effect than the driver.

Now, assuming they live to 60 years:

Cyclist: 1,000,000 lbs of CO2
Driver: 1,268,000 lbs of CO2

This is enough for the cyclist to live nearly 11 years longer

Using the current world average (according to wikipedia) of 66 years,

Cyclist: 1,150,000 lbs of CO2
Driver: 1,458,200

Which would allow the cyclist to live 12 years longer than the driver

at 70 years:

Cyclist: 1,250,000
Driver: 1,585,000

Allowing the cyclist to live an additional 13 years

Using the US average of 77 years:

Cyclist: 1,425,000
Driver: 1,806,900

Allowing the cyclist to live an additional 15 years past the US life expectancy without more of an impact than the driver

i'm going to skip 80, since I think you're getting the point. The highest life expectancy in the world, in Andorra, is 83, which would probably be 16-17 years longer.

While this assumes they both take the same amount of air travel and public transportation (putting it in the bicyclists favor), it also assumes the driver uses a car which, on average, has the same efficiency as a Civic, which as a small sedan, puts it in the driver's favor, at least for the present terms. This also doesn't consider if the bicyclist eats more food, uses rental or friend's cars at any time, or if the driver gets a more fuel efficient car over time (i'm assuming your study was based on present or past figures.) or drives less than average.

Basically, bicycling would have to increase life expectancy by 15 years for the average person in the US to be more harmful by biking than driving. In addition, this would assume that the biker makes no considerations to the enviroment in their home, which seems to be contrary to most Life Cyclists, that the cyclist and driver do not use green energy sources in their home, and in general that the average now is the average of their entire lives (so basically, they're probably porn sometime from the 1950s to 70s for this to be accurate)

While it might not be totally concrete, as an overall, I think it's safe to say that cyclists do NOT harm the enviroment more than drivers, especially drivers in anything that gets less than about 30 MPG (which includes most non-sedans, and many sedans)
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Old 02-14-07, 09:23 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Gotte
Now don't shoot the messenger, but I did read somewhere that cycling was actually bad for the environment, as it does you such good that you survive so much longer that you go on to consume much more resources in your life than a non-cyclist that you actually negate the good you do.
Like I said, don;t shoot the messanger. I just read it somewhere, and am just passing it on, and indeed would advise everyone to cycle and recycle and all the other things that are god for the planet.
Really? My Trek 1000 ebike conversion will get something on the order of 20 watt-hours/mile at full throttle with very modest rider input averaging something like 25mph. If one is serious about his environmental "foot-print" then one cannot do much better than that.
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Old 02-14-07, 09:37 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by feba
I highly doubt that someone who cycles their entire life would use more resources than someone who drives their entire life.
Interesting analysis feba! I think we should also consider this:
Over the span of 80 years the driver is going to have to replace their automobile several times. If they do so every 10 years then what environmental cost must we add to the driver's side of the ledger?
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Old 02-14-07, 10:04 PM   #21
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True, true, if you place the comparison of a car every 10 years (I don't know about you, but I don't know anyone who's driven the same car over 12k miles per year for 10 years, or owns a car with a similar level of use), compared to someone buying a bike every 20-25 years (which i've seen someone post on here as being the average life of a well maintained good quality bike), the car definitely uses more resources

However, cyclists are more likely to own multiple bikes for different usages. Even if we assume that on average a cyclist buys one bike per year, this still would seem to put them well below the materials and labour involved in getting a car every 4-5 years (or even every 10 years). Add in that an old bike will get practically the same fuel efficiency as a new one(assuming the new one is lighter, easier to pedal, etc) , so a cyclist has little reason to update to save fuel costs.

Let's also look at the cost to the person. Let's say the driver buys that same civic today:

15,000$ for a Honda Civic
10000$ on Gas (Aprx, times ten years fromfrom http://fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.htm)
7500$ Yearly maintainance x10, no idea if this is average, but it doesn't seem too far off
?$ for insurance (no idea, never owned a car or got a quote)
______
Over 32,500 in ten years, not counting insurance, tickets, or anything extra the driver might have

Now let's see a biker, who buys a new bike every other year

2000$ (Average, 400$ per bike. Would be higher or lower depending on how they shopped)
500$ Bike Accesories (Helmet, panniers, lights, etc. This is probably on the high side)
250$ Tools and materials (for fixing and general maintenence, seems kinda low, but this is assuming you maintain the bike yourself)
1000$ "Fuel" (Probably way on the high side for additional food needed, assuming the cyclist doesn't spend a ton on energy bars)
________
3,750$ - nearly a TENTH of the cost of owning a car, assuming the cyclist is on the cheap side. Even with a cyclist who spends more on their bikes, I can't imagine spending more than 10,000$ on them in ten years unless you race professionally or such. And of course, a truly frugal cyclist could go for well under this, if they rely on one or two bikes
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Old 02-15-07, 06:54 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by LandLuger
If one is serious about his environmental "foot-print" then one cannot do much better than that.
Sure they can. Most electric velos should be around 5-10wh/mile at the same speed.
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Old 02-15-07, 06:55 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by feba
I highly doubt that someone who cycles their entire life would use more resources than someone who drives their entire life.

(using info from terrapass.com)
Let's say the average person's housing creates 25,000 lbs of CO2 per year

Now, let's say the bicyclist and the cager start living by themselves, and transporting themselves. when they turn 20.

Using the figures for the 2007 Honda Civic automatic (a rather average car), the driver would create aprx. 6,700 lbs of CO2 waste per year.

Now, let's assume they both live until 50. Again, assuming they both have average housing, and the only difference in their lives is their means of transport:

The cyclist has created: 750,000 lbs of CO2
The driver has created: 951,000 lbs of CO2

Using this, the cyclist could continue living for over 8 years longer than the driver without having more of a negative effect than the driver.

Now, assuming they live to 60 years:

Cyclist: 1,000,000 lbs of CO2
Driver: 1,268,000 lbs of CO2

This is enough for the cyclist to live nearly 11 years longer

Using the current world average (according to wikipedia) of 66 years,

Cyclist: 1,150,000 lbs of CO2
Driver: 1,458,200

Which would allow the cyclist to live 12 years longer than the driver

at 70 years:

Cyclist: 1,250,000
Driver: 1,585,000

Allowing the cyclist to live an additional 13 years

Using the US average of 77 years:

Cyclist: 1,425,000
Driver: 1,806,900

Allowing the cyclist to live an additional 15 years past the US life expectancy without more of an impact than the driver

i'm going to skip 80, since I think you're getting the point. The highest life expectancy in the world, in Andorra, is 83, which would probably be 16-17 years longer.

While this assumes they both take the same amount of air travel and public transportation (putting it in the bicyclists favor), it also assumes the driver uses a car which, on average, has the same efficiency as a Civic, which as a small sedan, puts it in the driver's favor, at least for the present terms. This also doesn't consider if the bicyclist eats more food, uses rental or friend's cars at any time, or if the driver gets a more fuel efficient car over time (i'm assuming your study was based on present or past figures.) or drives less than average.

Basically, bicycling would have to increase life expectancy by 15 years for the average person in the US to be more harmful by biking than driving. In addition, this would assume that the biker makes no considerations to the enviroment in their home, which seems to be contrary to most Life Cyclists, that the cyclist and driver do not use green energy sources in their home, and in general that the average now is the average of their entire lives (so basically, they're probably porn sometime from the 1950s to 70s for this to be accurate)

While it might not be totally concrete, as an overall, I think it's safe to say that cyclists do NOT harm the enviroment more than drivers, especially drivers in anything that gets less than about 30 MPG (which includes most non-sedans, and many sedans)

Nice analysis. Now when my driver friends try and hit me with the lifespan arguement, I can do something more than mumble a "hmm, well, maybe".

One question though, how does it stack up with a European model where the cars are smaller and more fuel efficient? or does the fact that Europeans tend to recycle more and, well, consume less balance it out, do you think?
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Old 02-15-07, 09:09 AM   #24
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absolutely, viva la velo!
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Old 02-15-07, 02:24 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Spaceman Spiff
For now... Wait 20 or 30 years and India will catch up.
No. They will never catch up because we have already used up half the oil.
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