Two Wheels vs. Four [SLATE]
How far do I have to ride my bike to pay back its carbon footprint?Posted Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011, at 10:13 AM ET
I'm thinking about switching my daily commute from four wheels to two. But I'm concerned about all the energy it takes to manufacture and ship a new bicycle. How many miles would I need to substitute a bike for my car before I've gone "carbon neutral"?
It's tough to say exactly how much greenhouse gas making a bicycle requires, since none of the major manufacturers has released data on their energy consumption. Independent analysts have used a couple of different measures. Shreya Dave, a graduate student at MIT, recently estimated that manufacturing an average bicycle results in the emission of approximately 530 pounds of greenhouse gases (PDF). Umbra Fisk, a research associate at Grist, came up with a total carbon footprint of one ton of carbon dioxide-equivalentsfor every $1,000 of manufacturing cost. These two estimates intersect at a bike that costs $265 to build—well within the range of manufacturing costs for the wide variety of bicycles on the market.
Post a Comment