Are bikes green enough to change the world; KTown Block Party and CicLAvia; and firefighters stranded on 9/11 tour

Yes, your bike is green, whatever color bike you ride.

But the question is whether it’s green enough.

A writer for Bike Radar took a deep dive into the climate impact of different modes of transportation, concluding that a bicycle is by far the best choice, even when compared to walking.

And yes, even if it’s an ebike.

Here are their key conclusions.

  • Cycling has a carbon footprint of about 21g of CO2 per kilometre. That’s less than walking or getting the bus and less than a tenth the emissions of driving
  • About three-quarters of cycling’s greenhouse gas emissions occur when producing the extra food required to “fuel” cycling, while the rest comes from manufacturing the bicycle
  • Electric bikes have an even lower carbon footprint than conventional bikes because fewer calories are burned per kilometre, despite the emissions from battery manufacturing and electricity use
  • If cycling’s popularity in Britain increased six-fold (equivalent to returning to 1940s levels) and all this pedalling replaced driving, this could make a net reduction of 7.7-million tons of CO2 annually, equivalent to 6% of the UK’s transport emissions

That’s a big drop. But as they admit, going back to that rate of riding, from a time when many post-war Brits couldn’t afford a car or the gas to drive it, is a big lift.

More achievable would be replacing cars with bicycles and ebikes for half of all trips of five miles or less, which would result in a much lower but still significant reduction in greenhouse gasses.

By these calculations, cycling has the lowest carbon footprint of any mode of personal transport, even when compared to walking.

From a climate perspective, it makes sense for as many journeys as possible to be made by bike.

On an individual level, cycling instead of driving (or any other method of travelling) can make a positive impact on your carbon footprint.

But on a national scale, cycling has a limited role in addressing climate change. Because cycling is restricted to short journeys for most people, it can only replace a small fraction of the kilometres covered by cars.

Even if half of all sub-5-mile car journeys were replaced with cycling (a deliberately optimistic scenario) this would save around 7.7-million tons CO2e in the UK, equivalent to 2 per cent of UK domestic emissions in 2016. Not to be sniffed at, but not a silver bullet.

If that same 2% figure were applied to the US, it would save 102 million tons of CO2, based on 2017 figures.

That’s nothing to be sniffed at, either.

But it will take a better analytical mind than mine to calculate whether replacing half of all trips of less than five miles with bicycles, electric and otherwise, would be more or less than the UK’s 2%,

But even that would be a challenge in a country where cars are king, and even adequate bike networks are few and far between.

It’s not an insurmountable problem. But it’s not likely to change without leaders with the political will and courage to make it happen.

And right now, that’s the problem.

………

Then again, bikes are pretty efficient, too.

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It’s a busy bike weekend.

First up is tomorrow’s carfree 6th Street KTown Block Party.

That will be followed on Sunday by the first post-pandemic CicLAvia on a 2.2-mile course through Wilmington.

Even if the pandemic is once again rearing its ugly head.

Also on Sunday, ride and dine with celebrity chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger with a bike ride through their favorite neighborhoods, followed by brunch at their Socalo restaurant in Santa Monica.

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The Bay Area firefighters and EMTs who set out recently on a cross-country bike ride to New York for the 20th anniversary of 9/11 are stuck in Jackson, Wyoming after the new Chevy Tahoe they were using as a support van broke down, leaving them stranded.

And General Motors put the lie to their promises of great quality and service, by saying it will be another six weeks before it can be repaired.

Which would mean they’d be starting back out on their trip two weeks after they were supposed to get there.

Hopefully GM will decide to avoid the bad publicity and figure out a way to do something sooner.

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Streets For All has been kind enough to post video of Wednesday’s virtual happy hour with California Assembly Transportation Committee Chair Laura Friedman, for those of us who missed it.

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Great to see the Cutters are still together after all those years after Breaking Away first hit the screens.

But they’re not going to get very far without any rubber on that bike.

Thanks to Ted Faber for the heads-up.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.

No bias here. A Flagstaff AZ paper offers advice on how to ride around the city safety, “without pissing anyone off.” Actually, the advice isn’t bad, even if the headline sucks.

Sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly. 

Stockton police are looking for a man on a bicycle who allegedly set a Mexican restaurant on fire when they refused to give him a free drink.

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Local

Streetsblog’s Joe Linton says Metro didn’t exactly make the new and improved Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station bike and pedestrian friendly, skipping a promised bike lane in favor of more parking for cars.

Whittier business owners want to keep the city’s Greenleaf Ave closed to motor vehicles, and make permanent the Greenleaf Promenade that took its place for over a year.

A donation from Metro will allow Long Beach to double the number of bikeshare docks in the city.

 

State

Newport Beach ebike maker Electric Bike Company isn’t anymore, after city officials insisted their workspace wasn’t zoned for making bicycles; they’re now in a larger Costa Mesa facility with an expanded product line.

San Diego bike riders continue to call for change following a rash of bicycling deaths this year.

 

National

Men’s Journal recommends the best used bikes to buy now.

A safety startup wants you to pay 300 bucks for a cellphone-sized device to go on your bike, which promises to alert both you and drivers of any dangers they may pose. But only if their cars have the system installed, which they probably won’t.

A Texas driver faces a pair of manslaughter charges for an alleged drunken two-part crash in which he first killed a man riding a bike, then crossed onto the wrong side of the road a few miles later and killed a man driving a pickup.

Bicycling and pedestrian deaths continued to rise in Texas last year, continuing a five-year trend.

Life is cheap in Michigan, where a man will spend just ten lousy days behind bars for killing a bike-riding teenage boy, if he behaves while wearing an ankle bracelet after they let him out.

He gets it. An op-ed in the New York Times argues that electric cars may be a big improvement over gas engines, but any mode of transportation that sits idle 95% of the time is still a problem.

Actor Justin Theroux is one of us, riding his flat-barred roadie through his New York neighborhood.

That’s more like it. A 67-year old Maryland man was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for killing one man and injuring six others when he slammed his car into a group of bicyclists while under the influence of a controlled substance.

 

International

The Verge likes the second-generation Hummingbird, the world’s lightest folding ebike. But they’re not so crazy about the $6,200 price tag.

British police were following an alleged terrorist when he stabbed a woman walking a bicycle, as well as another man, before officers shot and killed him; 20-year old Sudesh Amman had been released from prison on a terrorism charge just ten days earlier.

There isn’t a pit in hell deep enough for the apparent vegan troll who has been tormenting a Welsh farmer online after the farmer killed his three-year old son by backing over the bike he was riding.

One man was killed, and several others injured, when a South African driver attempted to pass several cars on a blind hill, and slammed into eleven people on their bicycles.

 

Competitive Cycling

Post-Olympic bike racing is back with the five-stage Tour of Denmark. And so is Remco Evanepoel, who claimed his first stage win since a horrific crash in last year’s Il Lombardia.

Cycling Weekly looks forward to the first week of the Vuelta, which kicks off tomorrow.

Outside profiles a team of Latin American immigrants who are shaking up New York bike racing.

Olympic gold medalist Jennifer Valente says if you want to succeed in cycling, have fun along the way.

A groundbreaking Aussie cyclist now has permanent brain damage after she suffered over 60 concussions during her racing career.

 

Finally…

Two thousand years after Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, he could now use bikeshare, instead. Win gold in the Olympics, ride a gold bike in the Vuelta.

And don’t reach in and ride off with a driver’s car keys after an argument at an intersection

As much as we’d all like to sometimes.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.

One comment

  1. The chart showing the energy consumption of various modes of transportation may be out of date. There are VERY few 727 aircraft still in use, and the vast majority of passenger planes now in use are MUCH more fuel efficient. This doesn’t change the fact that a bike ridden at about 10 mph is the most efficient means of transportation around.

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