Cycling and Climate Change Debate

Submitted by Kevin Cronin on Mon, 04/09/2007 - 12:12.

I went to a very good talk about climate change and the "Inconvenient Truth" at the Natural History Museum last week.  The dialogue was led by local businessman/ environmentalist Jeff Friedman. It occurs to me that cycling can be a stronger part of climate change discussion.  

There are a lot of good reasons to ride a bicycle and every one should be able to choose their own personal reason - ride for recreation, ride for health, ride because you can't afford car insurance and gas. However, for many Americans, conservation, American dependence on uncertain energy suppliers and developing a more sustained, personal energy supply are very significant issues.   I don't want to suggest that riding your bike is a statement against  dependence on cars (although Ohio ranks third in the US in commuting by a single- occupancy motor vehicle) or energy independence, but consider the following:

Cars are a Significant Source of Pollution:

  • Motor vehicles emissions represent 31% of total carbon dioxide, 81% of carbon monoxide and 49% of nitrogen oxides released in the U.S. (The Clean Air Council). A short, four-mile round trip by bicycle keeps about 15 pounds of pollutants out of the air we breathe (WorldWatch Institute).

  • Half of all Americans believe that cars, SUVs, pickups, and vans are the primary cause of air pollution in their communities and 65% are concerned about the level of traffic congestion on the roads in their communities. They’re right -- Americans spend on average 75 minutes a day in their car (Bureau of Transportation Statistics, October 2000 Omnibus Household Survey).

Americans Want to Bike More and Drive Less:

  • Americans want to have the opportunity to bike to work instead of driving, with 40% of those surveyed saying they would commute by bike if safe facilities were available (survey by Rodale, publisher of Bicycle Magazine).

  • More than one-third (38%) of all Americans feel that the availability of bikeways, walking paths, and sidewalks for getting to work, shopping, and recreation is very important in choosing where to live (Bureau of Transportation Statistics, October 2000 Omnibus Household Survey).

  • 20% of Americans used a bicycle for transportation in the 30 days measured in the Census Bureau Household Survey. Bicycling is the second most preferred form of transportation after the automobile, ahead of public transportation, with 22.3% of those who bicycled did so more than ten of the 30 days (Bureau of Transportation Statistics, October 2000 Omnibus Household Survey).

Cycling Can Make a Significant Difference:

  • 25% of all trips are made within a mile of the home, 40% of all trips are within two miles of the home, and 50% of the working population commutes five miles or less to work (Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey), distances easily and quickly commutable by bicycle, yet more than 82% of trips five miles or less are made by personal motor vehicle.

  • 60% of the pollution created by automobile emissions happens in the first few minutes of operation, before pollution control devices can work effectively. Since "cold starts" create high levels of emissions, shorter car trips are more polluting on a per-mile basis than longer trips.

For those interested in riding more and driving less, ClevelandBikes is happy to help. Join us for Bike to Work events this spring and summer. Visit the website for more information, add yourself to our email directory.

“When ClevelandBikes, Cleveland Benefits!”

Bikes for Transportation

Thanks Kevin. Your group has two factions--those who bike for recreation and those who bike for transportation (and some of those people do both).  I fall in the latter category.  Cycling for recreation gets thorny, because those cyclists want to use the same backdrop for their sport as other nature recreationalists.  I hope that the Midtown project is moving ahead, to relieve some of this conflict.  (We can talk about the other subpopulation of cyclists--some other time--the ones who creep around at 3 a.m. scoping to steal cars)

Also of positive note

LeBron James met with Warren Buffett, turned around and invested in Cannon bikes.  Performance bikes opens stores in NEO.  Cool.

Bike to Work Day

Hey, Kevin. Happy to find you here.

I'm excited about this season's Bike to Work days.  (I mean, I usually do so, already, but I'm looking forward to commiseration and advocacy!)

Was digging around for some promotional materials, but couldn't find anything.

I just posted the first one on but was hoping to spread some tree around to my local haunts and get the word out that way.

Please let me know if there's any material, as well as how else I can help.

(I still like the "$0/gallon" motto from last year...)