Friday, February 25, 2011

Get Your Motor Running!

Or, How My Bike is More Efficient Than My Car.

I rode my bike to and from work twice this week. With Cobb County schools out for winter break and the nice springy weather, it was a perfect opportunity to reaquaint myself with the joys of traffic on the bike.

I had a lovely time. People waved at me and I got to enjoy the outdoors. You really feel like you are getting away with a good trick and sticking it to "the man" when you use your bike for commuting. And, taking a detour down a pretty street on the way in is almost scandalously fun. : )

As I rode, I was thinking about how on days when the kids are out of school (not as much traffic), I am not that much slower on the bike than in my car. Aside: I know that I would be faster if I rode up to the front of the line at stoplights, but I think that is rude. I only lost about eight car lengths between my office and the Corner Grocery, which is about 3 miles. Pretty good given the hills involved!

So anyway, I began to calculate in my head while waiting at a stoplight and here is the math:

My car goes 30 miles on a gallon of gas. Well above average. Doug's Aviator got 12 miles to the gallon.

A gallon of gas costs roughly the same as a gallon of milk.

A gallon of milk is sixteen 8 oz servings of approximately 125 calories each (2% milk since that is what we use) or 2,000 total calories.

I burn approximately 40 calories per mile on my bike when averaging 3-4 minutes per mile.

2,000 calories divided by 40 calories per mile = 50 miles to burn 2,000 calories.

Therefore, I get 50 miles to the gallon! Almost double that of my car!

Now, I know that my bike (40 lbs when loaded with rack, panniers, computer, clothes, toiletries, etc) and I (125 lbs, give or take) weigh significantly less than my very small car (2,496 lbs) so that means that my legs powering my bike are not *really* more efficient than the car, but it does beg the question of why everyone insists upon driving such large vehicles - the automotive equivalent of carrying your house around on your back everywhere like a snail.

I keep my work shoes under my desk and leave my purse at home when I ride to work because every extra pound makes it harder for me to pedal. Maybe we should think of that when we shop for transportation. Hm?