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Bicycle Nerd Alert: 7 Fascinating Facts About Bikes

April 9, 2013

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Some more grist for my “Cycling Can Save The World” religion, Courtesy of Popular Mechanics. For example:

Put a person on a bicycle and they become the most efficient creature on Earth. No other living thing can expend so little energy for so much self-powered travel. And that’s just when riding along level ground. When a person rides downhill, the free energy from gravity reduces the demand on the human body even more.

If a cyclist and a pedestrian expend the same amount of energy, the efficiency of the bicycle means the cyclist will be traveling three times as fast. At an average walking pace, the walker uses more than six times the amount of metabolic energy above the resting level compared to the cyclist.

Running is four times as energy-greedy, and neither they nor other self-propelled athletes, even the world’s fastest, can keep up with a top cyclist. Usain Bolt ran at 23.35 mph in the 2009 Berlin World Championships, but for less than 10 seconds. Speed skater Jeremy Wotherspoon set a world record of 32.87 mph over a 547-yard course. But no athlete could run or skate the 35.03 miles that Chris Boardman rode in one hour at the Manchester (U.K.) velodrome in 1996.

I like this one, too:

The more people cycle, the safer the roads seem to become. That’s not just true for cyclists—it’s true for all road users, even drivers confounded by the influx of bikes.

In Portland, Ore., all deaths from traffic accidents declined from 46 to 28 per year between 1997 and 2007, while the number of cycling trips quadrupled to total 6 percent of all journeys by 2007. Similarly, cycle use in the Netherlands increased by 45 percent from 1977 to 1997, while cyclists’ deaths fell by almost 40 percent. In Berlin, between 1990 and 2007, the share of bicycle trips doubled to 10 percent while serious injuries to cyclists fell by 38 percent.

The phenomenon of safety in numbers is not so hard to understand. A growth in the number of cyclists makes them more visible, and drivers change their behavior accordingly. Cities are more likely to provide safer road designs and facilities for cyclists when there are more of them about. And when some drivers switch to cycling, it means there are fewer cars on the road, which reduces the chances of anyone colliding with a high-speed chunk of metal.

Read them all, though!

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 22, 2016 7:45 am

    I ride my bicycle every day and I love how easy it is for me to get around on it. I completely agree that riding a bike is very efficient as it doesn’t need too much energy to ride. Whenever I ride to the grocery store, I pretty much coast the whole way there. Unless I am riding in a race, I don’t feel like I’m giving up too much energy and so I would definitely prefer to do that than have to walk to the store every time I needed to.

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