Grocery Shopping by Bike – Pannier Bags For The Win

I use my bike mostly for function – getting to and from places, shopping, going to dinner, etc.  One of the best purchases I’ve made was getting pannier bags, which make it easy to carry items and more comfortable than using a backpack or handheld bag.  Pannier bags attach to a basic bike rack (front or rear) and are a convenient way to carry goods, or to carry camping supplies if going for a long recreational trip.

A couple of years ago I bought a used set of Avenir pannier bags for $10 a piece.  They have some nice features like:

  • Reflective trim to increase visibility
  • Two bottle holders
  • One large pouch for large items (I’m usually carrying a laptop or papers) with clip straps to secure and expand or shrink height
  • Small zippered pouch for easy access to wallet, keys, etc.
  • Clips to secure bag to bike rack and reduce chances of falling off
  • Waterproof with drawstring tie on opening
One of my set of pannier bags

I went to the grocery store the other day and took some photos to show what a shopping trip by bike looks like.  I sometimes see newspaper articles or comments online about how non-functional it is to buy food items on a bicycle.  I strongly disagree – the parking is usually much easier, it’s cheaper than driving, and with a couple of good bags carrying your items home is a breeze.

Here’s my bike with two pannier bags full of groceries – I didn’t put the chips in the pannier bags for fear of crushing them although there was room in the expanded upper portion if I wanted to use it.

On returning home, I unpacked the bags on our table and took this photo to show the amount of food that can easily fit in a pair of bags.  We were cooking for a get-together so some of the items are in bigger quantities than usual but overall a pretty good idea of an average grocery shopping trip for me by bicycle.

We’re fortunate to live in an area with a number of grocery stores within a mile.  I often walk instead of biking, but often pick up a couple of items in other areas when I’m coming home from work or other activities.  Pannier bags are a great addition to any bike and I highly recommend getting a pair.

Have a great day and hope to see you riding soon!

Ride For The River Park – 6th Annual – October 21-22, 2017

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN – REGISTER HERE!


2017 marks the 6th Annual Ride for the River Park, benefiting the San Diego River Park Foundation (SDRPF).  This 2 day, 1 night tour begins at the Pacific Ocean in the neighborhood of Ocean Beach, and follows the path of the San Diego River from the ocean to the headwaters in the mountains near Julian.  This is a challenging ride of 70 miles each direction, with about a mile of elevation climb on the first day.  At the end of the first day we’ll enjoy camping at Lake Cuyamaca and a beautiful night’s sleep.  The return trip on Sunday, October 22 is all downhill – a well deserved easier return trip.

2017 ride map

All participants are strongly encouraged to make a donation to the SDRPF at http://sandiegoriver.org/give.html.  Please also send an email to organizer John Anderson at john.patrick.anderson.com. The event organizer and volunteers will provide snacks and water along the way and a support vehicle for carrying small overnight bags and gear.  Food and drink  are the responsibility of each participant as is accommodation in Julian on Saturday night.  Julian is a popular tourist destination so reservations are recommended as soon as possible.  There are a variety of hotels and other accommodations and many options on VRBO or Airbnb.  There are also nice campgrounds nearby like Heise County Park and Lake Cuyamaca**.  Please note that the campgrounds are a few miles from Nickel Beer Company where we will end the first day’s ride.

** Lake Cuyamaca will be the location for a number of participants to camp.  There are showers located at the Chambers Park location at Cuyamaca.

This ride is challenging and is on open roads, some with fast-moving automobile traffic. We welcome participants of all skill levels but please be aware that this will be a difficult ride for those not used to elevation gains or long-distance riding (more than 50 miles). Please note that the average group pace for the first day is 10 mph and 15 mph for the second day. If you’re not comfortable with this pace for a long day’s ride please bring a friend to ride along – we don’t want to leave anyone riding alone.

Day 1 Stops – Saturday, 10/21/2017

EVENT START – 6:30 AM (leave at 7 AM) – Dog Beach Parking lot in Ocean Beach at W Point Loma Blvd and Voltaire St. San Diego, CA 92107.

  1. Starbucks Coffee – 10406 Friars Rd, San Diego, CA 92120 (Grantville)
  2. 7-11 – 10195 Riverford Rd, Lakeside, CA 92040 (Just before Highway 67)
  3. Thai Time (Lunch Stop) – 2330 Main St, Ramona, CA 92065
  4. Dudley’s Bakery / Santa Ysabel Grocery – 30218 California 78, Santa Ysabel, CA 92070
  5. Lake Cuyamaca Campground (Finish Line!) – 15027 Highway 79, Julian, CA 92036.  We’ll grill out for dinner, have some drinks at the lake and enjoy some star-gazing and conversation.  I’ve reserved Campground 26 and 27 at the Chambers Park area, which has showers and nice restrooms.  Capacity is 8 per site but there are additional spots that we can get the day of event if needed.

Day 2 Stops – Sunday, 10/22/2017

  • Breakfast – We’ll cook up some coffee and eggs and bacon at the campsite before heading off in the cool morning mist.
  • 7-11 – 10195 Riverford Rd, Lakeside, CA 92040 (Just before Highway 67)
  • Mission Trails Visitors Center – 1 Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego, CA 92119
  • Finish Line – Pizza Port Ocean Beach – 1956 Bacon St, San Diego, CA 92107.  All are welcome (non-riders included) to enjoy some pizza and conversation at Pizza Port at end of ride, estimated arrival time is 3:30 PM on Sunday, Oct 2.

Hope you can join us for this great event and even if you can’t enjoy the ride you can support the work of the SDRPF by learning more and making a tax-deductible donation at: http://sandiegoriver.org/give.html. 

How Many Calories Do I Burn Biking to Work?

A few years ago when I started biking to work it was primarily due to a desire to improve my fitness.  I was working a lot of hours and found it difficult to find time to get to the gym.  I figured that a little moderate exercise (like walking) to start and end the day would be a good way to ensure at least a nominal amount of physical activity each day.

I’ve continued to bike since that first trial and now bike for most of my daily tasks – groceries, meetings, work, etc.  I’ve been pondering the exercise impact of the biking I do and wanted to do a rough estimate.

This online calculator is pretty handy to ballpark the calories burned biking.  There are many others but the few I tried out gave similar results.

For a typical 3 mile ride in the city I burn about 200 calories so a round-trip would yield 400 calories burned.  For a daily commute and with 2 weeks off for vacation that’d be an even 100,000 calories in a year.

If you’re looking for a way to get a bit of exercise each day, trying out bike commuting might be worth a try.  Bonus: it’s really fun.

Recent used bike purchase – hybrid mountain bike purchased for $90.

CORRECTION: After posting this I received feedback from a couple of people with more knowledge than I that calculators like the one used above overestimate the calories burned biking by quite a bit.  Per their estimates, including a tracked ride, the rate per mile for biking should be around 25 calories.

Based on this number, the total for the 3 mile ride, 6 miles round trip would yield a total of 150 calories burned and an annual total of 37,500 (not 100,000).

I’m leaving the original post and this edit in case others have a similar issue regarding online calculators for this purpose.

 

Ride for the River Park – 5th Annual – October 1-2, 2016

This weekend, Oct 1 & 2, 2016 – hope to see you there!  Sign up via following link and please pass on to anyone that might be interested in having a great time this weekend.

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN! SIGN UP TODAY!

Picture

2016 marks the 5th Annual Ride for the River Park, benefiting the San Diego River Park Foundation (SDRPF).  This 2 day, 1 night tour begins at the Pacific Ocean in the neighborhood of Ocean Beach, and follows the path of the San Diego River from the ocean to the headwaters in the mountains near Julian.  This is a challenging ride of 70 miles each direction, with about a mile of elevation climb on the first day.  At the summit in Julian we’ll enjoy dinner and craft beers at Nickel Beer Company.  The return trip on Sunday, October 2 is all downhill – a well deserved easier return trip.

Registration cost is a $30 donation to the River Park Foundation but please feel free to make a larger donation if you’d like! The event organizer and volunteers will provide snacks and water along the way and a support vehicle for carrying small overnight bags and gear.  Food and drink  are the responsibility of each participant as is accommodation in Julian on Saturday night.  Julian is a popular tourist destination so reservations are recommended as soon as possible.  There are a variety of hotels and other accommodations and many options on VRBO or Airbnb.  There are also nice campgrounds nearby like Heise County Park and Lake Cuyamaca.  Please note that the campgrounds are a few miles from Nickel Beer Company where we will end the first day’s ride.

* Lake Cuyamaca will be the location for a number of participants to camp.  There are showers located at the Chambers Park location at Cuyamaca.

Big thanks to our event sponsors!

  This ride is challenging and is on open roads, some with fast-moving automobile traffic.  We welcome participants of all skill levels but please be aware that this will be a difficult ride for those not used to elevation gains or long-distance riding (more than 50 miles).  Please note that the average group pace for the first day is 10 mph and 15 mph for the second day.  If you’re not comfortable with this pace for a long day’s ride please bring a friend to ride along – we don’t want to leave anyone riding alone.

Notes and Itinerary:

Ground Rules

  1. Show up early so we can depart on time – we roll out at 7 AM on Saturday, 10/1/2016
  2. Bring needed gear – sunscreen, helmet (if you want), lights, spare tire tubes, WATER, bicycle, human body, snacks, cash, phone.  If you have clothes, camping gear, etc. you can put in support van to take for you.
  3. Book your accommodations in Julian in advance of the event or secure a camping site at Cuyamaca
  4. Great attitude, smiles, be ready for a great time!

Picture

Route Map – Click image for dynamic Google Maps version.

Day 1 Stops – Saturday, 10/1/2016

  1. Starbucks Coffee – 10406 Friars Rd, San Diego, CA 92120 (Grantville)
  2. 7-11 – 10195 Riverford Rd, Lakeside, CA 92040 (Just before Highway 67)
  3. Thai Time (Lunch Stop) – 2330 Main St, Ramona, CA 92065
  4. Dudley’s Bakery / Santa Ysabel Grocery – 30218 California 78, Santa Ysabel, CA 92070
  5. Nickel Beer Company (Finish Line!) – 1485 Hollow Glen Rd, Julian, CA 92036. All are welcome (non-riders included) to enjoy a pint at Nickel Beer Company from 6-8 PM with a portion of each sale going to the River Park Foundation.

Day 2 Stops – Sunday, 10/2/2015

  • Breakfast – Location TBD – Alpine, CA 91901
  • 7-11 – 10195 Riverford Rd, Lakeside, CA 92040 (Just before Highway 67)
  • Mission Trails Visitors Center – 1 Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego, CA 92119
  • Finish Line – Mike Hess Brewing (Ocean Beach Tasting Room) – 4893 Suite A Voltaire St, San Diego, CA 92107.  All are welcome (non-riders included) to enjoy a pint at Mike Hess Brewing at end of ride, estimated arrival time is 3:30 PM on Sunday, Oct 2.

Hope you can join us for this great event and even if you can’t enjoy the ride you can support the work of the SDRPF by learning more and making a tax-deductible donation at: http://sandiegoriver.org/give.html. 

Want a Better San Diego in 2016? Make It Happen with Bike San Diego

2016 begins with San Diego looking at some pretty major changes.  Downtown San Diego is experiencing a building boom and has community groups pushing for it be a walkable, bikeable city center.  Awesome.  The San Diego City Council recently unanimously voted to adopt a Climate Action Plan to ensure our city is a leader in moving to renewable energy and reducing emissions.  The plan includes a goal to make biking 6% of commuter mode share by 2020 and 18% by 2035 (in select “Transit Priority Areas”).  Currently the city is around 1% bicycle mode share. Aim high – great.  Last week SANDAG held a meeting for public input regarding a bicycle / pedestrian bridge above Florida Street to connect Hillcrest and North Park.  This week SANDAG holds a meeting for public comment regarding Pershing Drive and creating a high quality bike route from North Park to Downtown.  Good stuff.

Biking is fun.
Biking is fun.

The tough bit about all these goals and plans – and there are many more great projects being proposed – is in making them a reality and backing up words and PowerPoints with actions and improvements on the ground.  Roadway and infrastructure projects changes happen over years, if not decades.  It is not a fast nor easy process and without consistent oversight and public pressure many, if not most, changes and projects will be scrapped a few years after being proprosed or passed.  To see long-term, meaningful progress in making San Diego a world-leader for bicycling is why I support Bike San Diego.

Today I doubled my existing monthly contribution to the organization and I hope you’ll join me and make a recurring donation today.

I have found no organization in San Diego that more strongly and consistently is pushing for real, positive change on our roadways than Bike San Diego.  If you want representation at public meetings, in meetings with elected officials and community groups, and ongoing leadership on the public stage I think you’ll find the same.

2015 was a tough year for biking in San Diego.  The SANDAG Regional Bikeway Projects, announced in September 2013 with $200 million of funding, have yet to paint a single foot of bike lane more than 2 years later.  The first project under this program, in Uptown, had the most critical portion – an East-West connection from Mission Hills to North Park – gutted despite many hours of meetings, and input from the communities to be improved.  I attended many of the meetings for this project, and for a paired project in North Park, and have since wondered why I spent so much time, stress, and effort to see a unanimous vote against bike lanes by the Uptown Planners group.  It has left me pondering if my time would be better spent elsewhere – if the “public outreach meetings” seem intentionally designed to give cover to the pre-ordained outcome as being community supported perhaps attendance is even counter-productive.  Across the bay Coronado was widely panned for ludicrous commentary regarding bike lanes (video below).

My solace comes from the growing bicycling community in San Diego, and the support and leadership shown by Bike San Diego.  We may have lost University Avenue (for now) but we showed up, spoke up, and connected.  At the next set of meetings we’ll be bigger, louder, and more insistent on the outcome of public meetings truly reflecting the content of those meetings.  When 70% of meeting testimony is strongly in support of a project the outcome should not be unanimous in the other direction.  Such disrepect for the public can stand temporarily but over time will not.

Biking is critical to the future of San Diego, if we desire to be a city succeeding in the future.  Look at world-class cities like London, Paris, New York City, Vancouver, Copenhagen, and others – they are embracing biking and walking and reaping immense economic rewards.  The backwaters are not those that walk and bike – they are those that are tripling down on freeways and levelling neighborhoods to pave even more.  Would San Francisco be more successful if four freeways were rammed through it or was the city right to demolish the freeway that long blighted the famed waterfront on the bay?

San Diego has no excuse to not be a world-leader in biking.  We have the best weather in the United States.  We stand to benefit economically, socially, and in health from increased levels of biking (and decreased levels of driving).  We are a major city and should stop pretending we’re a congolmeration of suburbs with a mall as a city center.  We need to get serious about real change on the ground.  Bike San Diego will be there every step of the way but can not do it without support.

Please support Bike San Diego today and help create a better future for our city.

Cities Are What We Choose To Make Them

This summer I was fortunate to take a bicycle trip across part of Europe, from Budapest to southern Bavaria (just south of Munich).  It was the first time I had taken a trip primarily by bicycle and it was great.  Unknown to me before our trip, Europe has created a number of cross-continent bicycle routes, named the EuroVelo routes.

We used EuroVelo Route 6, which goes from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea – most of the route is bicycle only with some portions sharing the road through small villages.  We were only on a small portion of this route since our journey was much shorter than the route.  Here’s an overview of the whole network, it’s amazing.

eurovelo map
Europe’s current network of EuroVelo routes. Likely to expand.

The amount of people we encountered while riding was awesome.  Groups large and small, single riders, day trippers, and those camping along the way.  All enjoying the beautiful Danube River and a peaceful, quiet ride through the countryside and towns both big and small.

2015-07-06 13.36.37

One town we stopped in for a night was Tulln, Austria.  It was a charming town in central Austria with a well-kept town square.  It’s a very old town, first noted in 859, but is making proactive changes to thrive in 21st century and put people first.  The center city recently moved to a 20 kph speed limit for their city center. That’s 12.4 mph.

2015-07-06 19.15.12

This small town, with cobbled streets and narrow roadways went out of it’s way to actively change in a way that makes people feel safe, valued, and welcome.  The EuroVelo system has been created the same way – many people actively choosing to make Europe a place that increasingly values people and is a great place to live.  In Tulln, and many of the other places we visited you were far more likely to see people walking, biking, or sitting and enjoying some sun than you were to see cars rushing to and fro.  In America it is the opposite nearly everywhere – elementary schools, downtowns, suburbs, office parks.  It is this way because we have chosen to build a place that incents and endorses cars above people and community.

The same applies to any community in the world – what it is and what it will become are choices constantly being made.  Our roadways, our buildings, our speed limits are all man-made creations.  The status quo exists because we continue to choose and support it.  Cities like Tulln that are many centuries old have existed through great and terrible periods yet continue to thrive in the 21st century.  Economies change, and so do trends – valuing people and creating great places to live and celebrate life are timeless practices.

What happens when you reduce speeds and limit vehicles? You get more people, more money, and a livelier place to live and visit.  To Tulln – Prosit!

IMG_20150706_155206985

2015-07-07 12.09.45

 

Car Rage – A More Fitting Term

Road rage is defined as “violent anger caused by the stress and frustration involved in driving a motor vehicle in difficult conditions”.  The term has some nice alliteration but a more fitting term would be “car rage”.  Perhaps we use road rage because we don’t want to acknowledge the damage and deaths that our passionate and loving embrace of the automobile causes.  Tens of thousands of deaths every year, yet rarely a headline in the paper.  The deaths are in the paper, just in the small print area inside with some short explanations that will impugn the non-auto parties at every turn.  Lots of mentions of crosswalks, lighting conditions, and visibility of clothing but few notes about Big Gulps, radio fiddling, use of phones, makeup application, driving history, or attention paid to road.

If you walk, or ride the bus, or ride a bicycle you don’t experience the same elevation of pulse, stress level, and anger as experienced when driving – especially at high speeds.  It seems mostly confined to the experience of driving in an automobile.  So perhaps we should retire “road rage” and start using “car rage”.  It won’t do much for the victims but it will at least change the conversation a bit and recognize that the most aggressive parties on our roads (which includes in front of our homes, schools, and businesses) are those using motor vehicles.

There is also a definition for “bike rage” and helpfully included in the examples section are all the different attack methods of cyclists.  For some reason, in the road rage entry (below) there not similarly prominent categories regarding attacks by car drivers.

bike rage

Here’s the road rage entry with some bland categories.  The mentions of violence included regard shootings: guns = dangerous, cars = Hello Kitty.  It’s almost like we don’t take the responsibility and risk of driving a massive vehicle at high speeds seriously.

 

 

road rage

Drive safe, drive slow, drive less.  Avoid car rage.

Bike Sexy Debut – Tees Now Available

Excited to announce that I’m working with Ryan Woldt of Socalsessions.com on a project we’ve dubbed “Bike Sexy”.  Basically we think that riding a bike is sexy and we want to encourage people to be loud and proud about it.  Being healthy, having fun, helping the planet, saving some money, connecting with your community – how much better does it get? #bikesexy

Our first Bike Sexy product is a sweet black t-shirt with silver reflective ink.  The material is light combed cotton that is super soft.  You can order online here or hit one of us up personally.

bikesexy t
Awesome shirt for awesome you

Props also to Ryan for last week’s debut of Night Rider, a film produced with Cool Guys Productions giving a view of the joy of biking in San Diego at night.  I’m looking forward to many more video projects highlighting the cultural importance (and fun!) of biking here.  Check out the short film below with great music from local band Dead Feather Moon.

Bonus thank you to Ryan for putting together the first Undie Bike Ride in San Diego which took place in Pacific Back on September 17th.  Thanks to everyone that came out and hope you had a great time!

Pershing Drive Bicycle Corridor – It’s Go Time

SANDAG is preparing to implement bicycle improvements to Pershing Drive in the near future, creating a safe and functional route from North Park and surrounding communities to Downtown.  This is part of the $200M SANDAG bicycle corridors program which has yet to stripe a single foot of bike lane in the nearly 3 years since being announced.  The first project, running through Hillcrest, gutted the most important segment – an east-west connection to North Park – at the last moment as detailed in this film by Dennis Stein.

Pershing Drive is very different from University Avenue; it lies in a park rather than popular communities.  Pershing Drive is currently a fantastic bicycle connection in many ways.  It runs through the middle of Balboa Park’s open space area.  Heading into town it offers gorgeous views of Los Coronados islands, Coronado Bridge, and Downtown.  It connects the densely populated neighborhoods of Uptown and Mid-City to Downtown.  However, it is also very intimidating to bike on.  The painted lanes are adjacent to high-speed roadways with speed limits of 45-50 MPH (and we all know that 5-10 above that is the likely reality).  Heading into Downtown, cyclists need to cross two separate onramps to Interstate 5, while drivers are ramping up to Interstate speeds. Both onramps lie behind curving corners with limited visibility.

I’ve been writing about the dangers of biking on Pershing Drive since early 2014 and serious injuries continue to accrue.

So how do we best create a functional, safe and protected bicycle corridor on Pershing Drive? Following are a number of specific ideas for what this project should look like.  We should start with context and a general guideline.  This project lies in the heart of Balboa Park – it should connect with and enhance the park, not take away from it.  A guideline that should lead any transport project is to put people first – and that means pedestrians first, bicycles second, public transit third, and private automobile fourth.  This is the hierarchy of preference used by the City of Chicago Department of Transportation and one that San Diego should adopt.

The Pershing Drive bicycle corridor should establish a two-way bike lane and two-way walking / running path adjacent to the Balboa Park golf course on the south / east side of Pershing Drive.  The entry point would be located at Redwood & 28th.  By siting the path on this side of Pershing the major friction points of the I-5 onramps are avoided (which fall under CalTrans purview and would be very difficult to address).  It also presents the opportunity to put those biking or jogging in a shaded and enjoyable place along the roadway.

  • Connect the two halves of Bird Park at the north terminus of Pershing Drive (at 28th Street) and direct traffic either east on Redwood or north on Arnold.  This will add parkland and avoid much of the backup that results from the awkward and overly large intersection now present at that location.
  • Reduce speeds for the entirety of Pershing Drive from the current 45-50 MPH to 35 MPH maximum and 25 MPH within 1,000 feet of the terminus at either end.
  • Add a path for those biking, walking, or jogging along the south side of the Naval Hospital to add a connection from Golden Hill and South Park to Balboa Park, as well as a connection for those traversing the improved Pershing Drive bicycle corridor.
  • Create dedicated and protected space for running / walking / jogging as well as for bicycling.  Pershing Drive runs through the heart of Balboa Park and the context of this project matters.  We should seek to improve the park as a whole with any project lying inside it.  The space for biking and jogging should be protected by a concrete barrier or other substantial method.
  • Reduce Pershing Drive to one travel lane in each direction.  There is one through street that intersects Pershing Drive currently – Florida Drive / 26th Street (the road changes names at the intersection).  Other than this street there are only entry points for service yards and parking lots at the Velodrome and the Morley Field frisbee golf course.  This matters because a prominent reason for back-up on a street can be waiting for an opportunity to turn.  That option is very limited on Pershing Drive, greatly reducing the need for additional traffic lanes.
  • Establish trees on both sides of Pershing Drive as protective barriers for the bicycle lanes (on the south / east side) and for the running paths on the opposite side of the roadway.
  • Establish vines on the high fences adjacent the Balboa Park golf course and a tree line inside the fence on the golf course to provide shade for the bicycle path, better utilize the irrigation on the course, provide privacy for golf course users, and improve the aesthetics of the road for drivers.
  • Utilize a maximum lane width of 10 feet for all travel lanes on Pershing Drive.  Any additional space should be reverted to parkland and narrower traffic lanes will decrease the incentive to speed on the roadway.
  • To connect the Pershing Drive bicycle corridor to adjacent neighbors add additional bicycle infrastructure on adjoining streets.  These include: close Florida Drive to vehicle traffic to restore Florida Canyon while incorporating a biking and walking path.  Add a painted bike line going up 26th Street into Golden Hill – the current road width does not appear to have sufficient space for a lane on both sides and the high speed differential going uphill warrants a lane before one descending onto Pershing or Florida.

Additional details will follow this post, including street sketches and other visuals.  The important thing is to gather community support for real improvements now, and to do so in a constructive way.  This is not about bikes vs. cars – it’s about taking real action about public health, climate change, quality of life, park space.  In general, it’s about making the project area better for all San Diegans.  We cannot afford to let basic, functional bicycle infrastructure get axed in a program specifically designed to create bicycle infrastructure, as happened in Hillcrest.

I would love feedback and criticisms or additional suggestions regarding Pershing Drive.  Please drop them in the comments, social media, or email.  Thank you.

Bicycles Are Most Energy-Efficient Transport

The following is from Dr. Gabe Mirkin’s website, www.drmirkin.com.  It was forwarded to me by a friend and I couldn’t locate it online so am posting here to share the information.


Really enjoyed this somewhat quirky study of energy efficiency in transport and comparing human transport efficiency to a handful of animals.  Enjoy and ride on!

Dr. Gabe Mirkin’s Fitness and Health e-Zine
September 13, 2015
Bicycles Are Most Energy-Efficient

If you ride a bicycle, be proud. Humans riding on bicycles are more energy-efficient than any other animal and any other form of transportation. Vance Tucker of Duke University compared bicyclists to humans and animals running, birds flying and fish swimming, as well as to people in motor-powered cars, boats, trains and planes (J. Exp. Bio, 1973;68(9):689-709). The less energy per weight you use to travel over a distance, the more energy-efficient you are. Vance found that the most efficient creature without mechanical help is a condor. With mechanical help, the cyclist comes out on top. Here is a partial list, ranked from most to least energy-efficient:

human on a bicycle
condor
salmon
horse
human in a jet plane
human walking
human running
human in an automobile
cow
sheep
dog
hummingbird
rabbit
bee
mouse

Mice, bees and hummingbirds use the most energy per weight and therefore are very inefficient and tire the earliest. This concept explains why pre-historic human hunters could catch faster-running animals. The human would tire later, so it didn’t matter how fast the animal could run; if the human ran long enough he would eventually catch the exhausted animal.

A person on a bicycle is more energy-efficient than one using an automobile, motorcycle, train or plane, even though he is much slower. If you compare the amount of calories burned in bicycling to other forms of locomotion, you will find that 100 calories supplies an average cyclist for three miles, a walker for one mile and a car for only 280 feet. A walking human uses 0.75 calorie of energy per gram of body weight for each kilometer traveled, while a cyclist uses only a fifth as much, 0.15 calorie per gram per kilometer. The WorldWatch Institute reports that when you ride a bicycle you use only 35 calories per mile, while walking requires 100 calories per mile, buses and trains use about 900 calories per mile per person, and a car uses 1860 calories per mile (Ergonomics, 2008 Oct;51(10):1565-75).

Slow Riders Use Less Energy Than Fast Riders
Cycling is so energy-efficient that a good rider can go just about any distance. In 2014, Christopher Strasser won the Race Across America by cycling 3,098 miles in seven days, 15 hours and 56 minutes. He averaged 16.42 miles per hour. The record for a woman was set in 1995 at an average speed of 13.23 MPH. Interestingly, slow riders use less energy per mile than fast riders. During a one-hour ride, a person riding a touring bike for nine miles burns 135 calories with an average power of 50 watts. In an hour an experienced bicycle racer can go 30 miles but will burn 2150 calories and produce approximately 500 watts or 0.67 horsepower. You burn more calories per mile because the faster you ride, the greater the wind and air resistance. Resistance varies with the square of your speed. A recumbent bicycle is more energy-efficient because being lower to the ground reduces the size of the bike and body that is being blocked by wind and air resistance (Proc Biol Sci, 2001 Jul 7;268(1474):1351-60).

More Cars Than Bikes in North America
The world’s 6.1 billion people own 1.2 billion bicycles and only 600 million motorized passenger vehicles. That’s one bike per five people and one automobile per 10 people. However, the highly-developed countries are dominated by automobiles. The United States has:
* Twice as many automobiles as bicycles
* More than 90 percent of transportation trips done in automobiles
* Less than one percent of trips done by bike

Benefits of Riding a Bicycle
More people should ride bicycles because:
* Bicycles require the least energy to go places. Cars use 30 percent of world’s petroleum.
* Bicycles are far more energy efficient than running or walking.
* Bicycles produce less air pollution than motor-driven transportation.
* Bicycles are manufactured with far less material and labor than engine-driven forms of transportation.
* Bicycles help to prevent disease and prolong life by giving you the health benefits of exercise.

2015-07-07 13.15.25
Biking through the Wachau Valley along the Danube River in Austria – fantastic fun!