The environmental paradox of cycling

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Friday, July 21, 2006
By Yokota Fritz


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.



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Comments:
I always believe Soylent Green was a promising solution. Some people certainly over-stay their welcome.
 
It's an interesting proposition: since people live longer and get fatter, perhaps we SHOULD be looking at them as an energy resource. Soylent Green Unleaded.
 
Excellent title for a short film! I already know an Ed W of Owasso, Oklahoma, with a very belated obssession with fixies, who could probably step into the lead role.

FYI, we were already doing fixies in the EARLY 80's. No big deal then. No big now.
 
Um, Ed the CycleDog has been riding track bikes for 20 or 30 years now.
 
Big deal. He waxes about fixies like it's the kewlest thing since round wheels.
 
So, cycling as a means to elimination (ala Logan's Run)?
 
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