Bicycle thinking: fewer cars, less technology, more walking, more cycling

Walking at 5 kilometers per hour burns about 260 kcal, according to a very extensive report by Bike Radar. Riding a bicycle at 13 km/h burns about 285 kcal. So, each kilometer costs a walker 52 kcal, whereas it costs a cyclist 22 kcal.

We humans are ourselves sources of CO2. A number of analyses I looked at estimated that the average human directly emits about one kilogram of CO2 per day or 0.7 grams per minute. This can increase by a factor of eight if we are doing heavy exercise. When sleeping, it will be much lower. However, an extensive Spanish study estimated that an average Spanish person was responsible for about two tons of CO2 per year. That’s 5.5 kg of CO2 daily per person. (The type of food has a major impact on human CO2 levels. Eating one kilo of beef creates about 60 kg CO2e. A kilo of bananas creates about 0.7 kg CO2e.)

So, we humans can be responsible for anywhere from 0.7 grams to almost 4 grams of CO2 per minute. This CO2 is a result of the creation of energy. Humans are energetic machines. Technology used to be about extending and supporting human energy but increasingly today it is about supplanting and undermining human energy. Technology is now doing things for us that we would be much better off doing ourselves, and in the process making humans sick and making the planet sick. Because what happens to human energy that is not used? It generally gets stored as fat.

What we need is technology that enhances human energy and earth resources. We need bicycle thinking. What we have is a technology mix that is making us fat, making us sick, making us lazy, making us lose our memory, making us lose our ability to do basic calculations, and making the entire planet sick and deathly. Because there is nothing more voracious for the earth’s materials and energy than technology. The climate crisis is a technology crisis. It is the result of too much crap, life-destroying, earth-destroying technology.

There is no greater example of an earth destroyer than an SUV; feeding the ego while it plunders the earth. However, our whole car culture is a type of ecological depravity.

In Europe, half of all car trips are shorter than 5 km, with one third shorter than 3 km. Is that worth it? Is that good for people, let alone good for the planet? Each kilometer travelled by bicycle instead of by car immediately saves an average of 150 g of CO2 emissions. Cyclists have 84% lower CO2 emissions from daily travel than non-cyclists.

In the Netherlands, one third of trips by people aged 65 to 75 are on a bicycle. Isn’t that amazing? Good for their health, good for the health system, good for the environment. Bicycles have been called “rolling walking sticks” because they are far easier on the joints than walking.

According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, people who commute by bike have a:
• 52% lower risk of death from heart disease
• 46% lower risk of developing heart disease
• 40% lower risk of death from cancer
• 45% lower risk of developing cancer

According to a University College Dublin blogpost, cycling:
• Improves your lung health
• Reduces heart disease and cancer risk
• Improves your mental health
• Promotes weight loss
• Builds muscle mass
• Saves time and the planet

To solve the climate crisis, to create a healthier world, the facts are clear. Less technology. More cycling. More walking. Burn your own energy.

Podcast: World Wide Waste
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