Going “Green”

I don’t mean to discourage anyone from riding a bike to work, but this is worth keeping in mind:

Let’s assume you saved a gallon of oil in your commute (a generous assumption!). Global daily energy consumption is 9.5 billion gallons of oil equivalent. … So by biking to work, you save the equivalent of one drop in 10 gasoline tanker trucks. Put another way, it’s one pinch of salt in a 100-pound bag of potato chips.

This is from John Stossel’s recent article in the Reason magazine. Read the whole thing.

Previous ‘Sense of Proportion’ posts: 1, 2, 3.

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9 responses to “Going “Green”

  1. rags

    Every drop makes an ocean! Maybe if enough people biked to work it would add up to something substantial.

    • Vishal

      Hey Rags, yes, I agree.

      The point that Stossel is trying to make (in the article linked above) is that much of the “going green” claims and initiatives is bunk – unrealistic and over-optimistic. The motive is novel, but separating facts from fiction is important otherwise we’ll be wasting our times and efforts.

      In any case, to Ricardo’s comment below, I was going to mention that environmental efficiency is not the only reason why people ride bikes. (However, I am not sure if riding a bike is safer – especially where the roads are not designed to accommodate bikers.)

      • rags

        Vishal , you’re right, the place is what is important. For example riding a bike in Indian roads is like taking a straight ticket to hell, there is absolutely no provision for their safety.

  2. That’s not the reason people go to work by bike. They do it because it is 1) cheaper, 2) faster and 3) safer. Nothing to do with going green, although that’s a welcomed plus. 😉

    • Vishal

      Yes, that surely is not the reason, sometimes even one of the reasons, why people ride bikes. Are you sure riding bikes is safer (than, say driving a car) though?

      • As for a certain DC area commute I had to negotiate every day, the bike path is through a wooded area – scenic, safe and fast.

        • Vishal

          My office is very close from where I live, and I really want to ride a bike to work but there are not bike lanes. *Sigh*

      • I am sure bikes are safer. A lot safer. Take a look at the statistics to see for yourself.

        I have the numbers for Brazil, where I was born: Of all the people killed in road accidents, 6,18% were ciclists, 12% were pedestrians and 48% were people in cars (the rest includes people in busses, trucks, and unknown). Moreover, of all traffic accidents, only 7% were related to bicicles. These figures are from 2006.

        Oh, and by the way, you don’t need bike lanes. In fact, some studies say they are more dangerous because they increase the complexity in traffic. You, as a biker, just have to obey traffic rules as any other vehicule.

        • Vishal

          Thanks for those interesting stats.

          However, you can’t look at those percentages by themselves… you have to look at the denominators as well. Without knowing what % of total population rides bikes, the 6.18% number can be quite misleading.

          Since % of bikers is low, % of bikers who get killed is obviously going to be low.

          For example, let’s assume only 1% of the total population ride bikes. Now, if 6.18% of all people killed in road accidents are bikers then you have a disproportionately higher amount bikers who get killed (as compared to drivers who get killed). A more useful and illuminating stat will be: what % of people who ride bikes get killed, and what % of people who drive cars get killed.

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