Cyclist as Polluters

This topic contains 51 replies, has 22 voices, and was last updated by  byogman 3 yrs, 4 mos.

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Mar 5 2013 at 2:15pm #

It’s impossible to say what the outcome of jumping though hoops will be… there is more than one part to that equation: what kind of hoops? how big? are they enforced? are they sensible or unnecessary red-tape? are people who gripe about cyclists even aware of them?

As I said above, it makes sense to allocate gas-tax revenue towards bicycle infrastructure if the goal is to reduce the number of cars on the road; it doesn’t make sense if that isn’t the goal of the tax on automobile driving.

How was the GAP funded? If a dime came from gasoline taxes to pay for that, than I would understand the frustration of a non-cyclist. The trail itself is mostly just a luxury. It’s good for tourism and justifies revenue from that stream and it’s good for community health… but has nothing to do with reducing congestion.

In-city bicycle expenditures are different, in that it’s mostly local sales and property taxes paying for it. If you are a resident, you are paying your share whether you drive or not. If you walk everywhere, you pay more than your fair share (although the groceries that you walk home still need to be delivered to the store via roads).

I like the idea of registration, if (and only if) in increases the odds of getting my bicycle back if stolen.

I like the idea of paying for what you use be it a tax or toll (in principle, and I’m fully aware that the government would likely screw it up the second no one is looking). I would love to have a registration sticker if the fee payed for a few bicycle lanes and better enforcement. On the flip side, I’d also like to see on-street parking taxed.

The problem with taxing on street parking is similar to the problem with trying to raise the gas-tax to European levels… while they both serve a value to society (and exponentially more value than a bicycle tax would, for that matter), they are impossible goals due to years of bad policy. Most houses have been built and many don’t have off-street parking… it’s not fair to implement such a tax now. Had such a tax been in place before the current buildings went up, it would have been beneficial as an incentive to build driveways and garages. Likewise with highways, higher gas taxes decades ago would have encouraged people to live closer to where they work in the first place while now such a tax increase would be an undue burden on the suburban communities.

We are paying for the mistakes made 50+ years ago. Taxes make a better incentive/disincentive than they do a means of raising money. I think that the objection some of you have to a bicycle tax is better stated this way: why raise a bicycle specific tax when cycling is a small drop in the bucket compared to the larger problem or revenue , infrastructure, and transportation.

I still support a bicycle tax as long as the goals are straightforward and maintained. I don’t have any notion that this would change how non-cyclists view us. It could improve our quality of life, if done right… if you want to be skeptical, be skeptical of the specifics and not the general idea. I for one could care less if the government knows that I own several bicycles or several guns.

All that said, while I’m open to the idea of new revenue streams for bicycle related infrastructure… I am highly skeptical/critical of any proposals coming fromt the same guy who suggested we tax our breathing (and his supporters, who in my opinion have very unrealistic understanding of what government is and what it does).


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Mar 5 2013 at 2:25pm #

brybot wrote:

That is for power, specifically, so you are right that I should have mentioned that. However, wind resistance follows the square law.

No, that is for resistance. usually all formulas include Cd as a part and V^2, but Cd in general case is not a constant. It lineary depends on V. but coefficient is small and, if I remember it correctly, has a bend in some area. Reynold’s number shows approximately where it is. As a result Cd consider as constant if Reynold’s number has a certain value (or it’s in certain range).


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Mar 5 2013 at 2:35pm #

I can’t believe that you two are seriously debating the carbon foot print of bicycles and cars… there are so many variables to consider that, at best, you’d only be able to come up with an average… and even that, after hours of varying calculations. The biggest problem with a car is the ratio of vehicle weight compared to the weight of the occupants; wind resistance is negligible in most circumstances compared to that.


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Mar 5 2013 at 2:40pm #

brybot wrote:

I didn’t consider the same speeds because cars and bikes typically don’t follow the same velocity profiles, so it wouldn’t make sense to make them the same. If I did, it would only help the bicycle case because cars are designed to have peak efficiency at highway speed, not at bicycle speed.

Maybe we should make a new thread for this discussion, if it continues?

Well, We should not consider cars on freeways — bicycles are not allowed there. :( In a city those have much closer profiles.

But I would propose a different approach.

Gasoline contains about 35 MJ/L (46.6 MJ/kg, or 9.7 kWh/L, 13 kWh/kg, 132 MJ/US gal, 36.6 kWh/US gal)
The specific gravity (or relative density) of gasoline ranges from 0.71–0.77 kg/l (719.7 kg/m3 ; 0.026 lb/in3; 6.073 lb/US gal; 7.29 lb/imp gal)
So base on this and my current car with about 20 mpg, and 15 miles, it would take 0.75*132= 99 Mj of energy to bring me to work without any traffic jam and in about 35-40 minutes. In case of traffic jam and sitting in ti for an extra hour, I’ll spend another 99 Mj (around an extra 3/4 of a gallon).

I go back roads 23 miles and it takes me 1 hour 50 minutes to get home or to work. So, if I sustain average 200 W (and I don’t think so, I would stop around 160 W), I would spend (3,600+3,000)s*200W=1,320,000j=1.32Mj

If we compare city driving then citing idle in car you burning fuel relatively fast. While on a bicycle you burn much less “fuel” if you stop. And as we know Prius has 50 mpg due to the fact that it stops engine during traffic light stops.

Yes, probably we should go to a different thread.


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Mar 5 2013 at 3:44pm #

Drewbacca wrote:I can’t believe that you two are seriously debating…

Me either. I put up some back of the envelope comparisons to illustrate a point in relation to the original post. I’m not sure what point Mikhail is trying to make other that I’m wrong in some way about the assumptions I made. Either way, I’m done with this discussion. I don’t need this.


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Mar 5 2013 at 4:00pm #

@brybot I am not trying to show you are wrong. But I want to be closer to reality so if we need later to use numbers then it would not be numbers out of blue.


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Mar 5 2013 at 9:26pm #

I have come to believe that much of the lack-of-respect-to-outright-hatred for people who ride bikes is a toxic stew of:
1. Majority prejudice toward a transportation minority/”other”
2. Mass delusion, due to the same tropes being repeated over and over
3. Simple entitlement, because we are on “THEIR” roads and in “THEIR” way

Based on a lot of discussions I’ve had with otherwise rational people, I’ve come to believe that it is not a lack of respect based on logic and evidence. For that reason, I don’t believe additional onuses on people who ride bikes would afford us any additional respect or protection–it would simply deter bike-riding, making all of us less safe.


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Mar 6 2013 at 12:35am #

The only reason things like this are brought up are because fat people that make laws see cyclists riding around and they want to bring us down in some way. They do. The positives in cycling FAR outweigh any negatives. Bottom line is people in general are lazy and don’t like seeing some in shape folks riding around on bikes. It makes them feel lazy and out of shape. Guess what? THEY ARE!


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Mar 6 2013 at 7:50am #

gg – please refrain from demonizing people based on their body shapes. There are plenty of “fat” people who bike and plenty of “skinny” people who don’t.


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Mar 6 2013 at 8:17am #

We have more than a couple of regulars on this board who are not “ideal” height-to-weight ratios, but they’re out there, showing the rest of the world that it can be done.

There are plenty more out there, like this politician, who are thick in the head, saying it cannot, or making it difficult. It’s ours to show them they’re wrong.


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Mar 6 2013 at 1:34pm #

So true, some of my “heavy” friends are the healthiest people I know. They work out, they dance, they eat right… From my experience, I’d say that “fat” is only a sign of laziness about 50% of the time. The other half has more to do with genetics, thyroid disfunction, and the like. It’s good to realize this and choose words wisely.

On the flip side of that, I’ll never forget how I walked eight miles to be at a play practice on time. I ran into one of my classmates and she was shocked that I would walk eight miles. I was shocked that she wouldn’t (and I’ve thought of her as lazy, ever since). To look at her, you’d think she was as healthy as could be

But, I take gg’s point even if I disagree. I don’t think it’s jealousy. I think it was joanne’s #3. Drivers don’t like inconvenience; they see us as an obstacle. They also see us as some imaginary opponent that gets away with running red lights (I only ever ran a light once on my bike, and that was due to miscommunication).


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Mar 6 2013 at 1:51pm #

More than anything else our goal is to change culture, and that happens more than anything else when more people ride. To start any new thing a person has to be able to project an image of themselves doing it (likewise to temper existing hostility toward it). For the vast majority, that means that they need to see folks that look like them, travel in the same circles, etc… already doing it.

So for the folks who got out there and started riding without that … you have unusual vision and dedication, and by riding, you’re not only taking yourself where you need to go, you’re encouraging new riders and thereby you’re lifting us all along the way. Thank you.

For the rest of us, the least we can do is abandon the false fit cyclist/fat motorist stereotypes and anything else that might make minorities within our ranks feel unwelcome. We all are unprotected people with basically comparable and totally pitiful power to weight ratio compared to any motor vehicle on the road. We all face the same thing out there, we should face it together.

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