Cycling is ten times more important than electric cars for reaching net-zero cities

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44 thoughts on “Cycling is ten times more important than electric cars for reaching net-zero cities”
  1. This is also an argument for more affordable housing closer to city centers. As prices continue to push average wage earners further out, the ability to commute by bike disappears.

  2. I’d do it more if there were decent bike lanes (separate from the cars, I don’t trust em, tbf) in my city. Definitely an important part of the equation

  3. The discussion needs to include city planners actually getting real separation of lanes in with actual barriers or removing cars from sections of cities so people actually feel comfortable riding a bike. I’m a huge biker, but in CO where people drive lifted pickup trucks, I stay off the roads completely

  4. I’ve been commuting by bike for 13 years and am on the hunt for an EV. I have some thoughts:

    1. The holier-than-thou approach to environmentalism has to stop. EVs are way better than ICE in most every situation from an environmental standpoint. Pitting EVs against active transport effectively dis-incentivizes anyone who can’t meet the “gold standard” of active transport. Stop making perfect the enemy of the good.
    2. I recognize my privilege in that my place of employment has secure bike parking and showers. That said, if you have these two things, you can bike in any weather, even snow. If we want more active transport, we need to deal with access to these types of amenities.
    3. In the city in which I live (Portland, Ore), there is no traffic enforcement and it is a drinking/pot smoking mecca. This combo has led to a significant increase in traffic fatalities and completely offsets the city’s investment in bike infrastructure. I feel way less safe riding on Portland’s streets than I did 10 years ago. This issue has to be resolved if we are going to make headway on these issues in the US.

  5. Whilst they don’t work for everyone. One person cycling would do lot more good than they ever could hope to save with an EV, even if it’s for 6 months a year.

    How many people do 5 mile commutes in the car?

    (Yes I know everyone lives in an area where it’s unsafe to travel by bike / will be engulfed in flames if they try and cycle).

    That’s before you get into the savings in healthcare etc.

  6. A lot of countries should look at the Netherlands and copy their principles. For one, a good bike infrastructure decreases the amount of cars on the road for urban folk.

    If bikes are not an option, then good public transportation and railway systems are a must.

  7. How about electric bicycles? 2-3x more efficient than electric cars. Skateboards & scooters can be even more.

  8. I’ve got a basement room full of bikes and love cycling.

    But the guy who loves commuting to work in his Escalade isn’t gonna choose to sell that and start pedaling to the office. I hate these articles because, sure, it’s technically true but it’s not a realistic solution. A bike is infinitely more efficient than a Cybertruck but that Escalade guy is far more likely to choose a Cybertruck over a bike. In the end if he’s giving up a gas-guzzling ICE for an EV it’s a win.

  9. How does this solve truck and aircraft propulsion? Passenger EVs are now spearheading battery technology which will eventually make it into other applications.

    I bike nearly every day and I love it. I’m just skeptical of these articles that don’t account for realities such as weather and geography.

    Also skeptical when they fail to mention animal agriculture at all which is a huge polluter. We need to move away from meat.

  10. And a completely unrealistic option for a very large number of people. No way I’m riding a bike 2 hours to work, then 3 hours home every fucking day.

  11. The order goes something like this:

    * bicycling / ​foot travel (food has a carbon cost but you have to exercise anyway so it doesn’t really count)
    * electric bicycle
    * electric motorcycle (most efficient option for long distance / highway travel)
    * transit (may be better or worse than electric car depending)
    * electric car
    * hybrid
    * small efficient ICE vehicle
    * large inefficient ICE vehicle

    It’s often good to use several of these. For example:

    * Drive EV to work; walk or bicycle to your local market to buy some groceries, use a bicycle trailer to take food home; take transit into the city to see your friends.

    * Get a low-range EV to save money, while keeping your ICE for occasional longer road trips where you need the range.

    * You live an hour drive from work. Ride your electric motorcycle to work when weather is good or drive your EV when weather is rainy or snowy.

    There’s a lot of good ways to leverage all of the above and simultaneously reduce overall carbon footprint and also get a richer variety of transportation experience in your life.

  12. >ten times more important

    And a ***100 times harder*** to get people to actually implement?

  13. Why not both?

    Converting city infrastructure is also very expensive. We can use NYC as an example – Bloomberg spent a lot of money creating bike lanes, but they’ve become double parking lanes and pedestrian lanes. Dedicated bike lanes lined by bumps to keep cars out are a huge undertaking. Cycling is great, but it’s not gonna be easy to convert our car infrastructure to something really bike friendly. I actually think converting fully to EVs is easier than getting real bike infrastructure.

  14. Small electric rideables are starting to get amazingly capable too. Heres a random clip of commuting on an electric unicycle to get an idea of what I mean.

    You can get electric scooters/unicycles/skateboards/etc. that typically have max speeds in the 30-40mph range, max range of 30+ miles and have a MPGe equivalent to ~1000 MPG, simply because you are no longer hauling around 3,000 pounds of car, for somewhere in the $1-3k range new.

    The only downside to them right now is they sit in a legal gray area. Most places consider them illegal, and of the places that have legalized them, they tend to be classified as segways and have all kinds of inconsistent limits on speed between states/countries.

    They are far more convenient than bikes because they are small enough to bring inside. Most devices are roughly luggage sized and would fit under your table at a restaurant, on the bus/subway or at your desk at work. Bikes by comparison require special infrastructure and people don’t like it when you bring them inside. When I used to ride my bike and connect to a bus, I lost track of the number of times that the bus bike rack was full such that either myself or another bike rider couldn’t get on. Would never be a problem with a unicycle/skateboard/etc because they are small enough to come on the bus with me.

    Edit: Typos

  15. Did you know walking is five times better for the environment than bikes??

    Why doesn’t everyone just walk to work??

  16. reducing commuting should be a huge priority its out of control and not how an advanced society would organise.

  17. Is there a term for when there is a good idea to solve a problem but then someone’s downplays that idea in favor of an even better idea, but fails to consider how unfeasible the better idea is?

    Case in point, I am able to bicycle commute to my job in the CA bay area mostly because there is favorable weather at least 90% of the time to accomplish this. Previously, I worked in the Midwest which would reduce that percentage to maybe 20% favorable? It also doesn’t take into account the distance for commutes.

  18. People could also adopt a more plant-based diet if they’re serious about having a positive impact on the environment

  19. Noting wrong though. It’s jut not really fitting in some where.

    It definitely works in most Europe countries and Japan as they’ve owned strict traffic rules and perfect facilities for biker.

    However, it isn’t really fit for America, as many bad drivers and shitty streets in there.

  20. Yeah, no shit. Now tell that the Angelina who live 40 miles from work and there are no bike lanes.

    Or the soccer moms with 4 kids.

    Or the guys who drive work trucks for a living.

    Or anyone who doesn’t drive alone to work an office all day and then come home alone, really.

  21. Mmm I like my Benzene straight from the car exhaust pipe’s mouth while I’m biking to work. Healthy 100% no side effects

  22. Cycling is worthless where I am located at. If you like traveling outside in the rain, snow, your tires being punctured every 10 feet with nails and riding with about 2 inches between you and a semi it is for you!!!

  23. The city i live is the worst to use a bike streets are too narrows because I live in a old city in Europe and lots of hills and it rains a lot if you told me to use a bike or walk i would always walk it’s just a pain in the ass to climb those hills in a bike and i love to bike in the summer i always go to the same place because my family have a summer house there and it’s bike heaven lots of bike lanes , city design to cars and bikes and flat terrain

  24. I think the reality is, the more you structure society for the car the more the difficult you make traversing by walking, cycling & even mass transit more difficult.

    One thing about Boulder that strikes me is that they have a lot of tools in their toolkit when it comes to implementing cycling to specific locations. More communities need to take that approach. (dedicated lanes, sharrows, tunnels under the road, seperate walking from cycling dedicated paths, share the road signs…. a all of the above solution)

  25. DAE hope for mass bicycle adoption for other people’s / the environment’s sake but selfishly really enjoy being one of the few cyclists on the road? My least favorite things about cars are traffic and parking (and one of my favorite things about cycling is passing traffic jams) and I’m not looking forward to traffic jams in bike lanes or hunting for a spot at the bike rack. (But maybe it wouldn’t be as much of an issue since bikes are so much smaller?)

  26. Self-driving cars might help bridge the gap in two ways; increasing ride sharing and decreasing personal ownership.

    Ride-sharing is obviously much greener on its own (potentially). Use case changes might be even more important. Traffic and intoxicated driving could potentially be reduced dramatically, opening up space for cyclists.

    Depending on how pricing works it might be nice to save a couple of bucks by cycling once a week. That’s usually not the case with owning your own care. Gasoline is only a small fraction of costs and the rest are fixed costs if you are forced to own. That proportion goes down a lot for electric, there is little financial incentive to cycle once you’ve put down the upfront costs.

    I see cheap ride-sharing as effectively a form of public transportation. That might not be fair environmentally or socially, but from a practical perspective it works. The last mile is conquered and without all-in costs using a car 10% of the time becomes possible and other solutions become viable and scalable even if they only cover part of your use case. Bikes, commuter lines, point to point buses all become a lot more viable for everyone.
    (If you’re not from the USA, I should explain that most cities have slow, circuitous routes where a single bus covers a large area with both too many and too few stops, often having only a couple of passengers at any time. They have terrible coverage, shut down at 5pm and are more of a stop-gap social service than a legitimate form of public transport.)

  27. I live in one of the more dangerous cities in the USA, cycling is not really an option. I also live on the 16th floor with no space to store a bike.

    I’ve also been burned by a cyclist and only saved because of a 3rd party providing their dashcam footage. Cyclist went from road>sidewalk>road within 1 short block and I “hit him” (according to him) when he reentered the sidewalk going perpendicular to me when his light was red. He broke his arm and dented my quarter panel. Thankfully a car behind him had a dashcam.

  28. This has more to do with “city planners in the US are not doing a very good job” than “people need to pick the most environmentally friendly mode of transport”.

    Where I live, in a mid-sized town in southern Sweden, commuting by bike is the standard for almost everyone who live and work in the same town.

  29. Technically walking is better but cities that makes sense like that were built in Medieval times and did not host up to tens of millions of people with the metropolitan area. The layout of cities today cannot satisfy the needs, especially when you think about how much stuff people buy regularly, even as food and daily consumables. If you need the whole trunk of a car to hold your weekly shopping, a bicycle is not good. In the first place neighborhood shops would need to completely replace supermarkets or delivering them to your home should become the standard for every household. The next issue is reaching schools and work places, it’s not strange for them to be several km or tens away and if you were to cycle there you’d end up exhausting yourself and arrive drenched in sweat on a fair weather day, imagine a rainy day or one with a lot of snow fall. Also your kid would have to go through the same experience. That’s a downgrade in most cases and it will make people want to leave your city and relocate elsewhere.

    But why don’t we have electric public transportation take care of daily commute you ask? Well is there an example of a city already replacing cars with public transportation that can be used as an example? No? There you go, cities aren’t built around buses and trams either. The main issue is the city layout, this has to be addressed first before you ask people to stop driving cars. The best compromise right now a city can do is wall off certain areas so cars are not present and people walk around, areas that are big enough you can reach your destination on foot in no more than say 15 minutes but any more that it becomes a chore or painful so the radius can’t exceed low single digit km maybe less. This is really the next big thing in city living.

  30. That comparison makes no sense in my mind, a bike is ten, if not hundred times less useful than an EV. Most people can’t switch their car for a bike and be not massively inconvenienced.

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