A number I'd like to know...

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Sheldon Brown, Sep 29, 2004.

  1. I'm thinking there is a number that might be useful to cycling
    advocates, but I don't have the data to calculate it or even to make
    a reasonable estimate...but maybe someone on the list does.

    Suppose that bicycles were totally banned, and that every mile of
    bicycle travel was then replaced by an automobile trip.

    How many additional gallons of gasoline per day or per year would
    then be consumed?

    Anybody have a reasonable estimate?

    Sheldon "Numbers" Brown
    +----------------------------------------+
    | Cyclists fare best when they act and |
    | are treated as drivers of vehicles. |
    | -- John Forester |
    | http://www.johnforester.com/ |
    +----------------------------------------+
    Harris Cyclery, West Newton, Massachusetts
    Phone 617-244-9772 FAX 617-244-1041
    http://harriscyclery.com
    Hard-to-find parts shipped Worldwide
    http://captainbike.com http://sheldonbrown.com
     
    Tags:


  2. Pete Rissler

    Pete Rissler Guest

    "Sheldon Brown" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    > I'm thinking there is a number that might be useful to cycling
    > advocates, but I don't have the data to calculate it or even to make
    > a reasonable estimate...but maybe someone on the list does.
    >
    > Suppose that bicycles were totally banned, and that every mile of
    > bicycle travel was then replaced by an automobile trip.
    >
    > How many additional gallons of gasoline per day or per year would
    > then be consumed?
    >
    > Anybody have a reasonable estimate?
    >
    > Sheldon "Numbers" Brown



    I would think you would need to remove "training" and "racing" miles. I
    don't think most people will replace training on a bike with training in a
    car. Maybe the number of commuter miles on a bicycle is more appropriate?

    --
    Pete Rissler
    http://web1.greatbasin.net/~rissler/
    http://www.tccycling.com
     
  3. psycholist

    psycholist Guest

    "Pete Rissler" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    > "Sheldon Brown" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:[email protected]
    > > I'm thinking there is a number that might be useful to cycling
    > > advocates, but I don't have the data to calculate it or even to make
    > > a reasonable estimate...but maybe someone on the list does.
    > >
    > > Suppose that bicycles were totally banned, and that every mile of
    > > bicycle travel was then replaced by an automobile trip.
    > >
    > > How many additional gallons of gasoline per day or per year would
    > > then be consumed?
    > >
    > > Anybody have a reasonable estimate?
    > >
    > > Sheldon "Numbers" Brown

    >
    >
    > I would think you would need to remove "training" and "racing" miles. I
    > don't think most people will replace training on a bike with training in a
    > car. Maybe the number of commuter miles on a bicycle is more appropriate?
    >
    > --
    > Pete Rissler
    > http://web1.greatbasin.net/~rissler/
    > http://www.tccycling.com
    >
    >

    Pete,
    I had the same immediate reaction (I'm sure most folks will). Wouldn't it
    be great if training in a car would work! If you could count that, then
    Robin Williams has climbed Alpe de Huez as fast as Lance has! ;-)

    Bob C.
     
  4. Roger Zoul

    Roger Zoul Guest

    Sheldon Brown wrote:
    :: I'm thinking there is a number that might be useful to cycling
    :: advocates, but I don't have the data to calculate it or even to make
    :: a reasonable estimate...but maybe someone on the list does.
    ::
    :: Suppose that bicycles were totally banned, and that every mile of
    :: bicycle travel was then replaced by an automobile trip.
    ::
    :: How many additional gallons of gasoline per day or per year would
    :: then be consumed?
    ::
    :: Anybody have a reasonable estimate?

    In my case, zero. I don't ride my bike as a replacement for driving my car.
    Bike riding, for me, is for fun and fitness.

    So, likely, to get reasonable numbers, you'd have to look at those who
    commute by bike, not recreational folks are racers.
     
  5. "Pete Rissler" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    > "Sheldon Brown" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:[email protected]
    > > I'm thinking there is a number that might be useful to cycling
    > > advocates, but I don't have the data to calculate it or even to make
    > > a reasonable estimate...but maybe someone on the list does.
    > >
    > > Suppose that bicycles were totally banned, and that every mile of
    > > bicycle travel was then replaced by an automobile trip.
    > >
    > > How many additional gallons of gasoline per day or per year would
    > > then be consumed?
    > >
    > > Anybody have a reasonable estimate?

    >
    > I would think you would need to remove "training" and "racing" miles. I
    > don't think most people will replace training on a bike with training in a
    > car. Maybe the number of commuter miles on a bicycle is more appropriate?


    Or general utility miles -- not just commuting, but running errands,
    shopping, etc.

    My first thought is that bicycle miles might not be replaced with automobile
    miles. Before I took up bicycle commuting, I rode the bus to work. When I
    don't ride, I still take the bus to work. It's just not a pleasant trip in a
    car, and it costs $25 a day to park in my building. Similarly, if I weren't
    riding to places like the post office or the drug store, I'd probably be
    walking there -- so again, these are not replaced with automobile miles.

    Another thought -- if I weren't riding my bike, then I might be driving to
    the health club in the evenings. So maybe there'd be additional automobile
    miles to get the same exercise? This would be true even for the training,
    recreational, and event miles. Or would we all take up running instead?


    Warm Regards,

    Claire Petersky
    please substitute yahoo for mousepotato to reply
    Home of the meditative cyclist:
    http://home.earthlink.net/~cpetersky/Welcome.htm
    Personal page: http://www.geocities.com/cpetersky/
    See the books I've set free at: http://bookcrossing.com/referral/Cpetersky
     
  6. Max

    Max Guest

    In article <[email protected]>,
    Sheldon Brown <[email protected]> wrote:

    > I'm thinking there is a number that might be useful to cycling
    > advocates, but I don't have the data to calculate it or even to make
    > a reasonable estimate...but maybe someone on the list does.
    >
    > Suppose that bicycles were totally banned, and that every mile of
    > bicycle travel was then replaced by an automobile trip.
    >
    > How many additional gallons of gasoline per day or per year would
    > then be consumed?


    .... an interesting question. I have, here on the shelf above me,
    several USDOT, Census and DOE publications relating to transportation
    issues, very up to date stuff.

    I tried to synthesize the value:
    #cyclecommutes X ave.cyclecommute.distance X ave.car.milage


    It turns out to be difficult to get the cycle values. In fact, cycling
    doesn't even show up, except as "fatalities: other".

    from memory.

    ..max

    --
    the part of <[email protected]>
    was played by maxwell monningh 8-p
     
  7. Max

    Max Guest

    In article <[email protected]>,
    Max <[email protected]> wrote:

    > I tried to synthesize the value:
    > #cyclecommutes X ave.cyclecommute.distance X ave.car.milage


    ahem.

    #cyclecommutes X ave.cyclecommute.distance / ave.car.milage


    ..max
    too little coffee+too little sleep = stupid.

    --
    the part of <[email protected]>
    was played by maxwell monningh 8-p
     
  8. Pete Rissler <[email protected]> wrote:
    >"Sheldon Brown" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    >>Suppose that bicycles were totally banned, and that every mile of
    >>bicycle travel was then replaced by an automobile trip.
    >>How many additional gallons of gasoline per day or per year would
    >>then be consumed?

    >I would think you would need to remove "training" and "racing" miles.


    Not necessarily; some of those might be replaced by driving to the gym.

    I think "mile for mile" is a fair exchange; it also, frex, doesn't take
    into account the tendency for cagers to choose to live further from work.
    --
    David Damerell <[email protected]> flcl?
     
  9. Mark Heiple

    Mark Heiple Guest

    In article <[email protected]>,
    Sheldon Brown <[email protected]> wrote:

    > I'm thinking there is a number that might be useful to cycling
    > advocates, but I don't have the data to calculate it or even to make
    > a reasonable estimate...but maybe someone on the list does.
    >
    > Suppose that bicycles were totally banned, and that every mile of
    > bicycle travel was then replaced by an automobile trip.
    >
    > How many additional gallons of gasoline per day or per year would
    > then be consumed?
    >
    > Anybody have a reasonable estimate?
    >
    > Sheldon "Numbers" Brown
    > +----------------------------------------+
    > | Cyclists fare best when they act and |
    > | are treated as drivers of vehicles. |
    > | -- John Forester |
    > | http://www.johnforester.com/ |
    > +----------------------------------------+
    > Harris Cyclery, West Newton, Massachusetts
    > Phone 617-244-9772 FAX 617-244-1041
    > http://harriscyclery.com
    > Hard-to-find parts shipped Worldwide
    > http://captainbike.com http://sheldonbrown.com


    In my case, my gas consumption would go down. I live in a lousy
    location for biking, and have to drive if I want a decent ride.

    Overall, my estimate is overall change in gas consumption would be
    insignificant.
     
  10. Jim Smith

    Jim Smith Guest

    Mark Heiple <[email protected]> writes:

    > In article <[email protected]>,
    > Sheldon Brown <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    > > I'm thinking there is a number that might be useful to cycling
    > > advocates, but I don't have the data to calculate it or even to make
    > > a reasonable estimate...but maybe someone on the list does.
    > >
    > > Suppose that bicycles were totally banned, and that every mile of
    > > bicycle travel was then replaced by an automobile trip.
    > >
    > > How many additional gallons of gasoline per day or per year would
    > > then be consumed?
    > >
    > > Anybody have a reasonable estimate?
    > >
    > > Sheldon "Numbers" Brown
    > > +----------------------------------------+
    > > | Cyclists fare best when they act and |
    > > | are treated as drivers of vehicles. |
    > > | -- John Forester |
    > > | http://www.johnforester.com/ |
    > > +----------------------------------------+
    > > Harris Cyclery, West Newton, Massachusetts
    > > Phone 617-244-9772 FAX 617-244-1041
    > > http://harriscyclery.com
    > > Hard-to-find parts shipped Worldwide
    > > http://captainbike.com http://sheldonbrown.com

    >
    > In my case, my gas consumption would go down. I live in a lousy
    > location for biking, and have to drive if I want a decent ride.


    What about it makes it unsuitable for biking?
     
  11. Jim Smith

    Jim Smith Guest

    Mark Heiple <[email protected]> writes:

    > In article <[email protected]>,
    > Sheldon Brown <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    > > I'm thinking there is a number that might be useful to cycling
    > > advocates, but I don't have the data to calculate it or even to make
    > > a reasonable estimate...but maybe someone on the list does.
    > >
    > > Suppose that bicycles were totally banned, and that every mile of
    > > bicycle travel was then replaced by an automobile trip.
    > >
    > > How many additional gallons of gasoline per day or per year would
    > > then be consumed?
    > >
    > > Anybody have a reasonable estimate?
    > >
    > > Sheldon "Numbers" Brown
    > > +----------------------------------------+
    > > | Cyclists fare best when they act and |
    > > | are treated as drivers of vehicles. |
    > > | -- John Forester |
    > > | http://www.johnforester.com/ |
    > > +----------------------------------------+
    > > Harris Cyclery, West Newton, Massachusetts
    > > Phone 617-244-9772 FAX 617-244-1041
    > > http://harriscyclery.com
    > > Hard-to-find parts shipped Worldwide
    > > http://captainbike.com http://sheldonbrown.com

    >
    > In my case, my gas consumption would go down. I live in a lousy
    > location for biking, and have to drive if I want a decent ride.


    What about it makes it unsuitable for biking?
     
  12. Pat Lamb

    Pat Lamb Guest

    Sheldon Brown wrote:
    > I'm thinking there is a number that might be useful to cycling
    > advocates, but I don't have the data to calculate it or even to make
    > a reasonable estimate...but maybe someone on the list does.
    >
    > Suppose that bicycles were totally banned, and that every mile of
    > bicycle travel was then replaced by an automobile trip.
    >
    > How many additional gallons of gasoline per day or per year would
    > then be consumed?
    >
    > Anybody have a reasonable estimate?


    It's really only tangentially related, but I've noticed that I use 1/2
    to 2/3 as much gas when I'm commuting by bike semi-regularly. That
    comes out to saving 1/3 - 1/2 gallons of gas per day, or 120-180 gallons
    per year.

    Pat "Obviously YMMV" Lamb
     
  13. Frank Miles

    Frank Miles Guest

    In article <[email protected]>,
    Sheldon Brown <[email protected]> wrote:
    >I'm thinking there is a number that might be useful to cycling
    >advocates, but I don't have the data to calculate it or even to make
    >a reasonable estimate...but maybe someone on the list does.
    >
    >Suppose that bicycles were totally banned, and that every mile of
    >bicycle travel was then replaced by an automobile trip.
    >
    >How many additional gallons of gasoline per day or per year would
    >then be consumed?
    >
    >Anybody have a reasonable estimate?


    Probably not. And it's even messier -- at least in areas where auto
    traffic exceeds the rated carrying capacity of the roads. If all those
    bike commuting/shopping trips were replaced by car trips, there would
    probably be even more extensive & prolonged traffic tie-ups on roads.
    Even with the present cost of gas, the waste of people's time -- along
    with the attendant blood pressure increase -- would probably be more
    costly to many drivers. Especially to (current) bike riders!

    It would also cost 'way more to those who would have to buy, insure, and
    maintain another motor vehicle.

    So it would be an interesting and partially useful statistic to have,
    but it would be incomplete.

    -frank
    --
     
  14. Terry Morse

    Terry Morse Guest

    Sheldon Brown wrote:

    > Suppose that bicycles were totally banned, and that every mile of
    > bicycle travel was then replaced by an automobile trip.
    >
    > How many additional gallons of gasoline per day or per year would
    > then be consumed?
    >
    > Anybody have a reasonable estimate?


    I have an estimate, reasonable or not. For the USA:

    - Estimated annual cycling distance: 15-21 billion/year
    - Estimated vehicle fuel consumption: 20.5 miles/vehicle-gallon
    - Estimated vehicle occupancy: 1.6 (passengers/vehicle)

    So high estimate for gallons of gasoline required to replace cycling:

    (21 billion miles/year) / [ (20.5 mph) * (1.6 passengers) ]

    640 million gallons per year

    --
    terry morse Palo Alto, CA http://bike.terrymorse.com/
     
  15. Peter Cole

    Peter Cole Guest

    "Sheldon Brown" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    > I'm thinking there is a number that might be useful to cycling
    > advocates, but I don't have the data to calculate it or even to make
    > a reasonable estimate...but maybe someone on the list does.
    >
    > Suppose that bicycles were totally banned, and that every mile of
    > bicycle travel was then replaced by an automobile trip.
    >
    > How many additional gallons of gasoline per day or per year would
    > then be consumed?
    >
    > Anybody have a reasonable estimate?


    http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/survey/commuter.htm
    http://www.ti.org/commutingnumbers.html
    http://www.bicyclecoalition.org/presentations/bicyclesbythenumbers.ppt
    http://www.bikeleague.org/educenter/hr1265.htm
    http://www.reddirtpedalers.com/WheelIssues/DisplayReprint.asp?id=182
    http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/c2kbr-33.pdf

    The 2000 census estimates about half a million bike commuters (.4%), they
    don't give distance, only commute time. If you take their numbers, and
    estimate 5 miles each way, that's 5M mi/day, at say 18 mpg, you'd have a
    little less than 300K gal/day. The US consumes around 400M gal/day.

    Auto commuters probably travel perhaps twice the distance, with about 100M
    commuting vehicles/day, so that's 2B mi/day, which says commuting burns
    about 1/4 the total gasoline consumption, which agrees pretty well with the
    bike non-consumption estimate. The net is, that if all bike commuters
    started driving, gas consumption would go up 0.1% perhaps.
     
  16. On Wed, 29 Sep 2004 12:59:56 -0700, Terry Morse
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    >Sheldon Brown wrote:
    >
    >> Suppose that bicycles were totally banned, and that every mile of
    >> bicycle travel was then replaced by an automobile trip.
    >>
    >> How many additional gallons of gasoline per day or per year would
    >> then be consumed?
    >>
    >> Anybody have a reasonable estimate?

    >
    >I have an estimate, reasonable or not. For the USA:
    >
    >- Estimated annual cycling distance: 15-21 billion/year
    >- Estimated vehicle fuel consumption: 20.5 miles/vehicle-gallon
    >- Estimated vehicle occupancy: 1.6 (passengers/vehicle)
    >
    >So high estimate for gallons of gasoline required to replace cycling:
    >
    >(21 billion miles/year) / [ (20.5 mph) * (1.6 passengers) ]
    >
    >640 million gallons per year


    Dear Terry,

    I'm curious how you arrived at 15-21 billion bicycling miles
    per year.

    Fifteen billion bicycle miles per year would be three
    million riders doing five thousand miles per year, about a
    hundred miles per week, or fifteen miles per day.

    Three million people works out to about one out of every
    hundred people in the U.S., given a population of around 300
    million.

    I'm dubious that there are 999 other people like me in
    Pueblo, Colorado, (population a convenient 100,000) riding
    fifteen miles per day every day of the year.

    And most of those who do ride a hundred miles a week do it
    for fun, not for transport.

    I suspect that if bicycles were banned, the few people here
    who do commute by bicycle would probably walk or ride the
    bus, using no additional fuel.

    But maybe bicycling commuters are much thicker on the ground
    in your neck of the woods?

    Carl Fogel
     
  17. Terry Morse

    Terry Morse Guest

    Car Fogel wrote:

    > Dear Terry,
    >
    > I'm curious how you arrived at 15-21 billion bicycling miles
    > per year.


    I pulled it from Ken Kifer's page:

    kenkifer.com/bikepages/health/risks.htm

    It's obviously a very rough figure. Hence the caveat about being or
    not being reasonable.
    --
    terry morse Palo Alto, CA http://bike.terrymorse.com/
     
  18. qtq

    qtq Guest

    Sheldon Brown <[email protected]> wrote in news:415AD8A2.2050200
    @sheldonbrown.com:

    > I'm thinking there is a number that might be useful to cycling
    > advocates, but I don't have the data to calculate it or even to make
    > a reasonable estimate...but maybe someone on the list does.
    >
    > Suppose that bicycles were totally banned, and that every mile of
    > bicycle travel was then replaced by an automobile trip.
    >
    > How many additional gallons of gasoline per day or per year would
    > then be consumed?


    do cyclists drive SUVs, or would they be riding motorbikes (I'm thinking of
    a certain lugged stem-builder here) instead?

    --
    to email me, run my email address through /usr/bin/caesar
    (or rotate by -4)
     
  19. On Wed, 29 Sep 2004 11:45:38 -0400, Sheldon Brown
    <[email protected]> wrote:


    >Suppose that bicycles were totally banned, and that every mile of
    >bicycle travel was then replaced by an automobile trip.
    >
    >How many additional gallons of gasoline per day or per year would
    >then be consumed?


    Why do you hate America so much?

    JT

    PS - I'm joking.

    ****************************
    Remove "remove" to reply
    Visit http://www.jt10000.com
    ****************************
     
  20. Ted

    Ted Guest

    In article <[email protected]>,
    John Forrest Tomlinson <[email protected]> wrote:

    > On Wed, 29 Sep 2004 11:45:38 -0400, Sheldon Brown
    > <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    >
    > >Suppose that bicycles were totally banned, and that every mile of
    > >bicycle travel was then replaced by an automobile trip.
    > >
    > >How many additional gallons of gasoline per day or per year would
    > >then be consumed?

    >
    > Why do you hate America so much?
    >
    > JT
    >
    > PS - I'm joking.



    No you're not, you Neanderthal. :)
     
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