Wharton School of Business professor Karl Ulrich presents a tongue-in-cheek analysis demonstrating that cycling for transportation is actually bad for the environment. "Substituting bicycling for driving is frequently promoted as a means of reducing energy consumption and the associated degradation of the environment," Ulrich writes. "The environmental benefits of human power are, however, strongly coupled to the environmental costs of increased population, due to increased longevity of those who engage in physical activity. Paradoxically, increased use of human power for transportation is unlikely to reduce substantially the use of energy."
Andrew Leanard responds in Salon magazine, pointing to a research paper from Dr. Paul Higgins, a research fellow at U.C. Berkeley. Higgins writes that "exercise-based transportation reduces oil dependence, carbon emissions and obesity." The improved health of cyclists results in potentially lower carbon emissions just from lowered health care costs.
The summary in Salon is more than a summary, with Leanard drawing his own conclusions. After, paradoxically, viewing a BMW ad. Maybe we'll have to go to a Logan's Run type of world if we all switch to bicycling.