Green Tuesday: The car greener than the bike?

We got this email from Carolyn Mansfield from the Sierra Club:

“I checked out your site and saw your post about environmental issues. I thought you and your readers might be interested in this story. “Mr. Green” is Sierra Club’s answer guy, and has a column about all things green that he updates weekly.

In honor of Bike to Work Day, he’s put out this discussion of the carbon emissions of biking vs. driving. He basically puts to rest the myth that fueling a bike (by feeding a person food that has been grown with fossil fuel inputs and transported to the consumer) is worse for the environment than fueling a car.

Here is the link:

Who knew that a fifth of Vodka and 2 shots will give you enough fuel for that half century!


  1. Joe

    I really don’t care what “MrGreen” thinks about my carbon emmission; I ride because it’s fun and saves me money.

  2. tad

    Read the article, Joe. 🙂 Good title, Moe, it got me interested!
    The argument posed in the article intro is pretty lame (and dispensed with easily by Mr. Green).
    My claim is that I don’t have any special eating habits to fuel my bike commute; I eat a normal diet. Thus, my food-based carbon impact is only as high as any normal car driver. Thanks Mr. Green, myth dispelled!

  3. Ghost Rider

    Joe, although most of us ride our bikes because it is a blast, surely you must understand that there are so many other reasons why using a bicycle for transportation makes great ecological sense — it reduces carbon emissions, it eases road congestion, it burns fat and makes us healthier, reducing the need for expensive healthcare.

    And, as far as carbon emissions go, a small group of 20 or so riders in our “club” have saved 22322.3 lbs of CO2 from being vented to the atmosphere just by riding our bikes. That is a LOT, and from such a small group. We can each make a big difference, and that difference only increases the more we pool together! We don’t have to be burlap-shirt-wearing evangelical envirohippies to make our world a better place…we can do it just by riding away with a smile.

  4. Iron Man

    What would that questioner desire we cyclists do? Trap our methane emissions and use them to power our stove top? Wear an oxygen scrubber device to trap the carbon in our breath? I didn’t even realize that people thought that way. That’s a whole different kind of loopy right there.

  5. Ghost Rider

    Yes…gastight mylar pantaloons to trap the methane. Some of my vegetarian friends could power a small town with their methane emissions!!

  6. Smudgemo

    The entire premise is stoopid. Most people eat way too much anyway, and I seriously doubt the average person would need extra calories. Perhaps at first when the metabolism starts kicking back in, but certainly not later.

  7. AngelWolf

    The article assumes that it takes no food to power the driver of the car. Without food, there is no driver, hence, no carbon emissions from the car.

    I’d like to see one of these “food you eat” articles actually do an apples to apples comparison. It may take a little more food to propel a bike, but don’t leave out the amount of food a driver of a motor vehicle eats. It actually does require some food to drive.

    Perhaps we can calculate in the health care costs and carbon emissions emitted by hospitals required by those partaking in the sedentary car culture. How much carbon does it produce to power that defibrillator that shocks your heart back into line after your heart attack? How much carbon does it take to make the food the cardiac surgeon needs to do that quadruple bypass when car driver’s arteries harden and clog like old drain pipes? Does that count?

  8. Lance

    Judging by the fatness of all the SUV drivers I would think they’re consuming as much, if not more, food! Ride a bike fatties.

  9. Ghost Rider

    AngelWolf…someone with thoughts after my own heart! My wife is an RN, and she is absolutely aghast at the additional steps and equipment hospitals require to manipulate morbidly obese patients.

    Don’t forget the food required to fuel the nurses and “lift team” (a group of burly men) who are needed to roll those immense, out-of-shape, sedentary people over so they don’t get bedsores.

  10. AngelWolf

    Amen! I’m an ER Tech, myself, so I get first-hand experience with rolling these folks over.

    In all seriousness, though, I really would like to see an apples to apples comparison. Take the emissions of an average car commuter’s diet plus his car emissions vs. the emissions of an average bike commuter’s diet plus his bike emissions and calculate your carbon savings off of that.

  11. 4300

    I think Mr. Green is full of shit! Your a dumbass if you really think burning a tank of gasoline a week gives off less emissions than a bike.

  12. Ken Sturrock

    4300 – Re-read the article…

  13. bomber

    Yup, the “green” thing is a nice side benefit, but not the main reason. Around our house, we only believe that something is “green” when it also saves the green inside the wallet. Bike does this, also cuts healthcare costs, saves gas, makes you happy without all them little pills I used to take. Nuff said I suppose, here I am again preaching to a choir. Sorry.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *