April 12, 2008


One thing I like about biking is that it puts you right in the middle of energy efficiency. I just put a speedometer on my bike and you can see it right there on the display. On a little hill I might reach 20 mph, and on a good hill, 25 or more. Against the wind on my way home uphill I am fighting to keep my speed at 8 mph. Sometimes when the light turns green I will sprint out ahead of a car and see how long I can hold it. If things go well, maybe about half a block, but the cars always win. Me, on a featherweight cycle held up on 1/16" spokes, gets beat by a superheavyweight automobile belching yards and sections of exhaust. There's a lot of talk about environmentally friendly cars, and about how you can change your driving style to save fuel, but the basic fact is that the fuel economy of vehicles is dirt-poor. Today's Ford F150 pickup truck gets the same mileage as a Model T, and if you drive green (avoid jackrabbit starts!), it doesn't change the fact that it takes a lot of fuel to roll around in that huge metal box.

Just ran across this graph showing the price of coal.

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