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Biking to Save the Oceans from Boiling
Evaluating the claims that cycling can alleviate climate change.
This is a long-form piece heavily inspired by Twitter user drivebikewalk´s thread. Many of the images and tables are directly sourced from his or her thread.
The idea that bicycling can make a dent on slowing, reversing, or fixing climate change is been popular as of late among those who subscribe Platitude-driven vision of bicycling advocacy.
“In recent years, the stark realities of climate change have become more evident, more intense and more desperate for a solution. Thankfully, one simple, low-cost solution is right before our eyes. A solution that has been gaining momentum for years but exploded in popularity over the last 16 months. A solution for governments, industries and individuals alike. A mobility, sustainability, equity and public health solution all in one: the humble bicycle,” wrote Jenn Dice, President and CEO of People for Bikes, a Boulder-based industry lobbying group and cheerleader for “protected” bicycle facilties in 2021 just after the peak of the COVID-19 bicycling boom.
Technology website The Verge penned a piece in April 2022 titled, “To Fight Climate Change, we need to start biking like the Dutch.”
British newspaper The Guardian featured a story around the same time about a couple and their dog who rode a whopping 4,500 miles around Western Europe in the shape of a bicycle to (per The Guardian’s subheadline and not in the words of the bicyclists) “raise awareness about climate crisis.”
If readers are really into torture, there’s the 21 minute video “Biking as a Path to Joy, Equity, and Climate Solutions.”
The bicycle was even front and center at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2021 (COP26).
The Eurpean Cyclists’ Federation even launched the website, cop26cycling.com. Mosaiced by the logos of hundreds of bicycling organizations from around the world, is a letter, written almost as a hostage letter, demanding governments to embrace bicycling as a solution to climate
change crisis, claiming:
Worldwide, transportation is responsible for 24% of direct CO₂ emissions from fuel combustion. Road vehicles account for nearly three quarters of transport CO₂ emissions, and these numbers are not decreasing. Aside from the unsustainable levels of CO₂ emissions that are ruining Earth’s climate, road vehicles are polluting our air at unprecedented levels, killing an estimated seven million people worldwide every year.
Crying, “the world is on fire,” the authors of this letter, ignorant of the fact that 24% above likely includes planes, trains, ships, etc - all forms of transportation impossible to replace with cycling are immune to reality, continuing:
There is no conceivable way for governments to reduce CO₂ emissions quickly enough to avoid the worst of the climate crisis without significantly more cycling. Cycling is one of the best solutions we already have to ensure our planet is habitable for all generations to come.
Of one of the four areas the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition’s new Executive Director Chloé Lauer vows to address1 coming in at third place (Greta is NOT pleased) after “mobility justice,” and “community,” is, you guessed it: “sustainability.”
“Over 50 percent of San Diego’s total greenhouse gas emissions come from personal transportation,” according to the City of San Diego’s 2020 Climate Action Plan report. To reduce those emissions, we must reduce vehicle miles traveled and shift to transportation modes like biking and walking that don’t produce emissions. The City’s Climate Action Plan calls for 35% of trips to be biking and walking by 2035, up from 6% currently.”
The former part of this claim isn’t entirely new the latter part about the Climate Action Plan2 goals is not only immensely unrealistic but reflects on the grotesque narcissim that’s parasitized the cycling movement as it’s been taken over by the Leuer (and Bear) types in insisting they can save, well anything.
The idea that one city, of 1.3 million people with none of the heavy industry required to produce all the toys it needs to “save the world” can make any sort of dent in global emissions too is an insane pipe dream.
Propaganda rag, Streetsblog also wrote about the “trips under one mile” claim in 2019 likely informing the choir of Platitude-driven activists of the Noble Truth to repeat without a sliver of critical thinking. The Cycling Embassy of the UK goes into some pretty ridiculous mental gymnastics too, as apparently the same delusions are palatable across the pond.
Recently the short trip Noble Truth claim has shifted to e-bikes whose proponents make similar claims although it appears e-bikes have largely been purchased by existing bicyclists in the Netherlands (Cycling Holy Land) are using them to replace existing bicycling trips but with safety issues including for the first time in years more cycling deaths than motorists deaths on the country’s roadway network. Even The Verge, often apologists for so-called “protected” bicycle infrastucture covered the increase in injuries on the nation’s much ballyhooed and worshipped “protected” bikeway network.
Ironically however, the source Lauer linked indicated these figures were including all modes of transportation, not just “car trips,” meaning that if even if people’s short ultra-distance trips could be replaced by bicycling, not all of these trips would be replaceable by bicycle since competing modes of transport also used for the trips, mainly walking, driving, and potentially even public transport. Lauer and others who repeat this claim are apparently completely blind to that fact that not all trips could be replaced by bicycle anyways nor that many people actually want to switch to bicycling - especially when Platitude-driven cyclists are responsible for so much fear mongering over cycling safety.
This claim (the proper one, not the cars only one) can be represented visually. The nearly 30 percent is represented by the first bar.
There’s another slight-of-hand being played with this claim, intentional or not.
In the big picture, motor vehicle transport emissions produce both local and global impacts. Climate Crisis Hysterics argue CO2 produced by human activity is the lone control knob to explain nearly every event under the sun and that emissions of the substance by humanity must be reduced to virtually zero soon otherwise the world as we know it will end. At the more local and regional level, motor vehicle transport emissions are responsible for SOx, NOx, and particulate matter - none of which are partiularly beneficial to human health or the environment either.
Emissions of all these substances have gone down in developed nations thanks to industry innovations and regulations despite the number of such vehicles in operation in record high numbers, representing a major white pill hysterics either are ignorant of or refuse to acknowledge. As developing nations (gasp!) industrialize their environment tends to also see less impact from humanity. Emissions of these compounds depends on several things too, among them being the size and fuel consumption rate of the machine but the distance of the trip. Readers might be wondering, “but she did mention distance,” which is indeed true, but shorter distances in general produce less emissions.
A second table plotting trip percentage and distance percentage tells a different story and thus reveals the slight-of-hand: the trips Lauer (and others) insist can be replaced by cycling are just shy of 2% of all the distance traveled.
That means, even if all those trips were made by motor vehicle currently, they’d be responsible for a paltry amount of the CO2 emissions reduction.
Even in the Holy Land of Cycling, cycling trip distances are a small fraction of that of the automobile and other competing forms of transit.
The argument that bicycling is a global solution is even more ridiculous.
According to Our Word In Data, road transport which they define as use by petroleum and diesel power vehicles such as cars, both types of trucks (pickup types and tractor-trailers), motorcycles and buses comprise of 11.9% of global CO2 emissions.
Of that 11.9%, only 60% of that is passenger travel or 7.14% of total global carbon emissions.
With the establishment of the absurdity of biking to save the world from climate crisis debunked using a sliver of thinking skills, let’s turn to recent absuridies from “allies” to cycling who are also in some way or another trying to link bicycling to climate change or climate action.
Starting of course with the most petulant of the petulant, a Cluster B(ike) Activist , making a demand so batshit insane that it belongs on
And then to a recent email from CalBike.
We noticed you might be interested in a Climate Ride but unsure what to expect? We partner with Climate Ride because we know it offers unparalleled charitable events that bring like-minded organizations and individuals together.
Take it from Team CalBike member Leah, who has been participating in climate rides for over a decade:
“Climate Ride has been an incredible avenue to engage my friends and family on the topics of bikes, climate, and environmental stewardship. Each and every Climate Ride event I have participated in has been an absolute blast and I have met some of the most dedicated and inspiring people I know on these rides. I am only getting started!”
The best way to learn more about Climate Ride is to schedule a 15 minute call with Interim Executive Director, Kevin Claxton, who raised over $3400 for Climate Ride’s Central CA Coast event in 2019. If a proper bicycle is holding you back from participating, consider getting in touch with Bicycle Angels and their bike loan programs, or check out their website.
Thank you and ride on!
Individual Giving Manager
The pathetic begging for money aside, Wright opens the letter mentioning the Climate Ride, whose slogan is “take a walk (or a ride) on the wild3 side.”
The Climate Ride is a 501(C) Non-Profit who organizes charity running, hiking4, and cycling events and use these proceeds to (in their words) “raise awareness and support sustainability, active transportation, and environmental causes” in the form of grants to groups such as 350.org, one of the more prominent groups in whatcalls the Anti-Industry Industry.
In order to participate in one of these rides, one must commit to a certain level of fundraising and then on their own dime they travel to the site of the event. This is for fairly wealthy first worlders only who have such means let alone the time to take off work. Climate Ride hosts events all over the US including cliché places such as National Parks but also host events abroad including in Mexico, Colombia, Morocco, Japan, and even Bhutan.
Bhutan is, as they claim a “carbon-negative country,” and this special trip requires in addition to the fundraising requirements of $5300 per person a $200 per person per night “mandatory sustainable development contribution” to be paid to the Bhutan government."
The irony of the fact many of these location either require long distance, often automobile-based travel or even an overseas flight is lost if one is trying to view this group as people who operate on sanity and rationality.
It’s almost as if the Climate Ride is a LARP for people too poor to be the elites who travel to places such as the COP events or the annutal WEF freak show in Davos in their private jets.
The remaining “biking will save the oceans from boiling” crowd too suffer from similar delusions.
If one wants to take up cycling as a form of transport being willing to accept and embrace the associated trade offs, all the power to you. Cycling can carry some substantial benefits including a free endorphins, easier destination parking, less wear and tear on one’s personal automobile if the trips are indeed replaced, and a chance to take in the greater scenery. But the idea that the activity will help in any substantial way with the environment to the almost panacea level claims power hungry narcissistic authoritarian types insist (so long as they’re placed in positions of power and influence), on any level, is proposterous.