From purely a logical standpoint…
A gallon of gasoline represents approximately 30,700 Calories (assuming that a human could convert gasoline to energy). A medium sized banana represents approximately 108 Calories. That’s 284 bananas per gallon of gasoline. I don’t care where you live.. gasoline is looking pretty cheap.
When I ride my bike to work, I use about 752 Calories to travel the 14 miles. That’s about 6.9 bananas. When I drive my car to work, it uses about .54 gallons of gasoline, or about 16,578 Calories, or about 153.5 bananas. Gasoline isn’t looking too great now.
Roughly speaking, riding my bike to work is about 22 times more efficient than driving, purely from a energy consumption standpoint. 22 times.
Ah, but what about time.. surely, you say, it takes more time to travel by bike!
Yes. It does. For me. For others, it does not.
My average speed on my bike on my preferred (read; less direct but safer and more scenic) route is around 14mph. My average speed by car, by the fastest route I can find, is about 16.27mph. So, I save about 9 minutes by traveling by car.
That’s it. 9 minutes. And the freeway and the rear end of the same car for 40+ minutes aint all that scenic.
Now, I have not, on purpose, mentioned the cost of vehicle ownership; vehicle purchase, maintenance, insurance, taxes paid to maintain roads. Etc. etc.
Nor have I mentioned the difference that between spending 120 a day on my bike vs. 102 minutes a day sitting in traffic on my health and mental well being.
And, I’ve not talked about:
Car emissions kill 30,000 people each year in the U.S. (1, 1998)
Most ozone pollution is caused by motor vehicles, which account for 72% of nitrogen oxides and 52% of reactive hydrocarbons (principal components of smog). (2, 1990)
If every commuter car in the U.S. carried just one more person, we'd save eight billion gallons of gas a year. (3, 1990)
Sumtin’ to think about. (while you’re riding your bike, perhaps)
(1) From the Eugene/Springfield (OR) Bicycle Map (1998?), which further credits the American Lung Association, Oregon Traffic Commission, Association of Commuter Transportation, American Automobile Association, and City of Eugene.
(2) 30 Simple Energy Things You Can Do to Save the Earth. Los Angeles: South California Edison, 1990, p. 11.
(3) 30 Simple Energy Things You Can Do to Save the Earth. Los Angeles: South California Edison, 1990, p. 52-53.