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As long as we're not talking about those loud-as-shit high-polluting two-stroke scooters, yes. Those things need to be banned.

Posted by tiktok | August 27, 2008 1:19 PM

what about the manufacturing of the bicycle? i'm sure they are not hand crafted with renewable substances that emit no sort of gas or waste.

Posted by sir jorge | August 27, 2008 1:22 PM

What's the equivalent of gas for walkers and bicyclers?

Posted by M | August 27, 2008 1:23 PM


Posted by rye | August 27, 2008 1:24 PM

I had no idea that walking 1000 miles used 4 gallons of gas. We must outlaw this pedestrian menace!

Posted by Ian | August 27, 2008 1:24 PM

@3, probably the petrolium used for the shoes you would wear out after walking 1000 miles. Assuming rubber soles that is.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | August 27, 2008 1:25 PM

I guess it takes fuel to get the food to provide the calories for the walker and the bicyclist. The bicyclist uses less because they can go further on the same number of calories.

I still have to question the gasoline equivalents used to make the bike and send it to the user. Especially since even today most bikes are sitting in the garage most of the time.

Posted by mikeblanco | August 27, 2008 1:28 PM

I did no life-cycle analysis for these numbers. This is pure operating energy costs.

A 180 lb person walking consumes about 100 (kilo)calories per mile. A gallon of gas has is roughly equivalent to 31,000 kilocalories. So... walking is about 310 MPG, or the energy of 3.3 gallons of gas per 1000 miles walked.

I did a similar sort of analysis for cycling: a 180 pound person riding an average of 10MPH gets about 900 miles per the kilocalories in a gallon of gas.

Lifecycle analysis is notoriously difficult to do fairly. Hybrids would probably be WORSE than a typical new car in such an analysis--given the much higher manufacturing energy costs.

Posted by Jonathan Golob | August 27, 2008 1:30 PM

Oh God, someone's not going to start in with the "but if we all exercised more, our increased calorie intake would create the need for X times more fossil fuels" BS equation now, are they? Please don't.

I'm guessing those small walking and biking numbers just make up the replacement requirements for tires and sneakers?

Posted by Dougsf | August 27, 2008 1:32 PM

But the environmental cost of 100 calories of food is many times higher than 100 calories of gasoline.

I've seen calculations that on a typical US diet, biking burns more carbon than driving. There's some controversy about that, but it's a close call.

Posted by RonK, Seattle | August 27, 2008 1:34 PM

Actually, if you all walked and biked more, you'd probably live on average 10-20 years longer.

True life cycle costs would count the bunker fuel used to ship the Kobe beef you eat to support your meat-based diet, of course.

Eat beefalo, it's local.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 27, 2008 1:35 PM

It's so frustrating to try to explain reality to someone who ran out and bought a scooter thinking they would get actually 100 mpg, they way this graph claims. It's sort of like the way the cereal settles halfway down in that big box? Or the way the picture with the recipe looks so much better than what you just cooked?

But anyway, the 40 to 70 mpg that real people get in the real world on real scooters ain't chopped liver.

Posted by elenchos | August 27, 2008 1:45 PM

Nice try but you might want to take a physics class so that you can tell me how you attained 100% thermodynamic efficiency in walking. Or better yet, please take a biology class and then try to explain how you were able to have a human metabolize octane.

Posted by bzishi | August 27, 2008 1:49 PM

#10 - it's a moot point because the average American's caloric intake is already about the same as that of a serious athlete's.

Posted by Dougsf | August 27, 2008 1:51 PM

Beefalo is not local to Seattle, Will.

Posted by Fnarf | August 27, 2008 1:51 PM

Sigh. I was talking about bunker fuel, moron. Yes, it is local, it's grown only a few minutes north of here, in many places including Burlington.

God, you really need to get out more, Fnarf. Maybe take up running or some sport that might help blood flow to your brain.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 27, 2008 2:10 PM

my motorcycle is the same as the small hybrid car ... and it's way more fun that a scooter.

Posted by brad | August 27, 2008 2:12 PM

I'm sure you were talking about bunker fuel, Will. The question is "why?"

Posted by Fnarf | August 27, 2008 2:21 PM

Will, you also claimed to know what was fashionable for riding a scooter yet from everything I've seen you wear you don't know what fashionable is. Or you have a terrible sense of humor.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 27, 2008 2:35 PM

Semis typically get somewhere between 4 to 6 mpg. Off the chart.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | August 27, 2008 2:43 PM

What if you divide that by number of passengers or weight of load?

Posted by Phil M | August 27, 2008 2:48 PM


And cargo ships are lucky to get 1,000 gallons per nautical mile. What is your point?

Posted by bzishi | August 27, 2008 3:22 PM


Oops, x10 to high: I meant about 100 gallons per nautical mile.

Posted by bzishi | August 27, 2008 3:32 PM

No point, bzishi. Just throwing it in there for fun.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | August 27, 2008 3:35 PM

But what about the amount of smugness (or equivalent) consumed?

Posted by Giffy | August 27, 2008 3:56 PM

@23, which, taking into account the amount of cargo they hold, is essentially ZERO. Which is why moving stuff by ship is the cheapest way to move anything on the planet.

Posted by Fnarf | August 27, 2008 5:09 PM

@18 - because when you eat beef grown non-locally, you're polluting due to shipping - they use bunker fuel, one of the nastiest oil derivatives there is, to power the ships between ports.

Argentinian Grass Fed Beef - brought to you by bunker fuel.

Next (obvious) question?

Moving by rail is actually cheaper, especially if the power plant is fuel cell from hydrolosis derived from wind energy, as any scientist could tell you is the lowest impact. Barge is second. Ships are pretty heavy on pollution, but don't need to be.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 27, 2008 5:42 PM

Er... Where did that chart come from? I'm curious to know how they got the results they did.

Posted by Bruce Garrett | August 28, 2008 4:23 AM

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