Tuesday, October 27

Bikes Make Second Rate Commuter Transport

The DFW Clean Air Coalition “Commuter Challenge” put the ability of bikes to reduce oil consumption into perspective against other private options. I picked the options to keep the math simple.

Consider the following options:

• Car, getting 20mpg, making a 20 mile round trip commute
• Four day work week (compressed schedule), same car as baseline
• Hybrid car getting 40mpg, making the same commute
• Telecommute – commuter travels to work in person once a week
• Bike, making the same 20 mile commute – ignore any extra oil used to generate the ride calories
• Carpool, with 3 people, getting that same 20mpg and making the same commute
• Vanpool, with 10 people, getting 10mpg and making that commute

Compared to the car, each saved the following fuel per baseline commute:

• Car – Baseline
• Compressed Schedule – 0.2 gallon
• Hybrid – 0.5 gallon
• Telecommute – 0.8 gallon
• Bike – 1 gallon
• Carpool – 2 gallons (took 2 extra people off the road)
• Vanpool – 8 gallons (took 9 extra people off the road)

For the clean air community, vanpools rock! Bikes are only good in comparison with other single occupancy vehicles. Public options, of course, depend on ridership and how people get to & from the public option. So cyclists, let’s not get all enamored about how wonderful we are. It’s a lot easier to get ten people signed up for a vanpool than to get 8 people to abandon their cars and cycle commute. Personally, however, I don’t think vanpools are as much fun – and those vanpools aren’t very practical for getting shopping done, nor for getting a hot coffee, savored at Sundance Square, not long after dawn on a sunny fall Saturday morning. THAT, my friends, is well worth being second rate…


Rantwick said...

Nicely done. I've always been a big supporter of getting more cars off the road in ways most people will actually consider, and be able to keep doing in Winter...

Jason McDowell said...

I bet a bike pool is more fun though...

Keri said...

yeah but, bike commuting is going to cure obesity when we build a cycletrack from everyone's house to everyplace they need to go! Vanpools can't cure obesity!


Excellent post, Steve. I'm bookmarking it for future reference.

Filigree said...

The problem with car pools and van pools, is that some people really prefer to commute alone and use the trip to and from work as quiet time to relax and organise their thoughts. I guess it mostly depends on how social a person is, but I would hate to be pressured into a commuter pool. A bike on the other hand, is just perfect.

Steve A said...

You and me both. The clean air people are, however, taking a global view. They mainly just want those SO motor vehicles off the road. Bike riders are fine but don't represent their best opportunity.

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