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Cyclists defensive about the pollution they emit

Cyclists recently came out in hoards to repel the comments from the Washington State politician who claimed, “Since CO2 is deemed to be a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride.” Both the Seattle times and Velonews picked it up. And, the politician has since apologized.

It reminds me of the GM ad telling college students to stop pedaling and to start driving–an ad that was met with so much opposition that it was pulled by GM back in the fall of 2011.

** And just fyi, here are two “journalistic reporting stats” that appeared in the Seattle Times report: (1) On average, cars emit about three-quarters of a pound of carbon dioxide per mile, while bicycling releases just over 1 ounce per mile, including manufacturing, according to analysis by the European Cyclists Federation. and (2) food calories burned by a rider may well be equivalent to 650 miles per gallon, figures Todd Litman, of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute.

One Comment

  1. Julian Marshall
    Julian Marshall 03.27.13

    Bikers’ CO2 exhaled isn’t a problem; that carbon is modern not fossil and so doesn’t change the long-term net amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The potential problem is embodied energy in the food: CO2 and other greenhouse gases are emitted to grow and transport food, to give the cyclist energy to ride. (An important assumption is that the energy to bike is “new” food energy that the cyclist wouldn’t have eaten if she/he hadn’t gone for the ride.) See Figure 3a of

    Diet matters: the climate impact per calorie is greater for some foods (e.g., beef) than for others.

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