Friday, August 6, 2010

Biking to work and energy efficiency

Bike to work and stop global warming.
Bike to work and get healthy.
Ok. Since it's so good for me and my planet and I'm only about 6 miles from work, I finally decided that I should give this a try.

I used a cool iPhone app (Runkeeper) to log how far I went and how fast I went there. As part of the app I got an estimated calorie usage... and that got me thinking about energy efficiency:

So my bicycle commute is more than 18 times more energy efficient than driving.
...And I drive a Prius.
If you use the CAFE Standard fuel efficiency for a passenger car in 2010 (27.5 mpg), then that bicycle commute is more than 28 times more energy efficient than driving.

To be as energy efficient as cycling, the car would need to use 0.01gal of gas for the 6 mile trip, which is 600 mpg! Whereas the current automotive X-Prize is only looking for 100 mpg... 6x short of what is needed.

So we REALLY need to be doing more of what Copenhagen is doing with making cycling mainstream:
"If you make the bicycle the fastest way to get around the city ... you're going to get everyone and their dog to do it."
  • Pervasive use of dedicated bicycle lanes.
  • 37% of all people commuting to work or school use bicycles.
  • 50% of all trips in the city are made by bicycle.
  • Double bike lanes to accommodate bike traffic volume in some places.
  • "Green wave" timed to give cyclists a no-stoplight flow into the center of the city for 6km (3.7mi).
  • Red LED lights on the bicycle lane demarcation that sense coming bicycles and flash to warn cars to avoid right turn conflicts.
  • Dedicated parking spots for cargo bikes (taking away 1 car parking spot for 4 cargo bike spots).

Picture credit: Adam Stein (terapass blog)