We need to talk about CARBON... A cyclist guide.


We all need to have to stop burning fossil fuels by 2050.  We need to drop our CO2 consumption by 60% by 2050.  This is going to require a  re-orientation of human values and consumption.   

  • 3 tonne per year = this is the CO2e allowance per person per year.   
  • 3 metric tonnes as apposed to the imperial ton.
  • 1 metric tonne = 1000kg (1,000,000 grams) so the maths is very easy..
We need to talk about carbon - otherwise we will have Purple Rain...

We need to talk about carbon - otherwise we will have Purple Rain...

As cyclists, I am preaching into an echo chamber and many of you will be aware of this data, so I am doing this to question every other companies ethics behind their actions.  All data is backed by science.   Almost everything that we consume produces Carbon emissions from the production to the intended use and replacement.  We need to change our consumer lifestyles and include low impact products into our daily lives.   The bicycle will have to move from being a leisure item to a mode of safe transport.  Every child learns to ride a bike - this is something that we should all share with others...

  • 1 Gallon (4.54 litres) of Petrol = 48000kJ averaging distance 40miles (40mpg)
  • Cost of a gallon at 125p/l = £5.68
  • This equates to £5.70 for 40 miles (64km).

40miles would take approx 4hours to cycle at 10mph. But would you eat £5.70 of food?

  • Relating this back to petrol, 4.5 litres gives you 48000kj of energy.  
  • The human body will store 2500Kcal (calories) producing with is 10460kj (kilo joules) which would take you 8.7miles in a car.
  • The human body can store upto 2500Kcal we could easily cycle 50.0 miles without running out of stored energy.
  • On top of that the human body can replace 500kcal per hour.
  • 500Kcal = 2092kJ and would take you approximately 10miles at 10mph.  

This is the basis of endurance riding and fueling your body with food.  Cycling teams in the Tour De France take this to the extreme calculating attacks.   This is how Sky calculated Chris Froomes attack on the Finestre in the Giro de Italia.

"The body can only absorb 90 grams of carbs an hour.   Thats three rice cakes in an hour, or three gels.  Each water bottle weighs 500g.  We obsess over losing 30g from a bike.  On this hour-long climb of the Finestre, which could be the decisive moment of the entire race, was it worth carrying an extra 500g up this possibly pivotal climb?  But if you didn't, if he didn't hydrate, there was a very real risk he could blow."  

Sky had Froomes team mates relay food and water to him before the attack that saw him make up a 3minute deficit and claim the leaders jersey. 

We are not robots (or Skybots), however it does demonstrate what the human body will endure.  The more you cycle, the fitter you get and easier it gets and the further you can go.  So assuming that you cycle for 1 hour on a 10 mile journey each way.  You would burn 1000Kcal energy but save £3.50 each day.  Having a daily commute will help you ride further in the weekends.

  • CYCLING = 18.4 co2_gpkm
  • E-Bike Cycling = 20.6 co2_gpkm
  • WALKING = 24 co2_gpkm
  • Sea freight per Tonne = 10 to 40 co2_gpkm 
  • Bus 100% FULL = 25 co2_gpkm
  • Train 100% FULL = 30 co2_gpkm
  • Airship (Zeppelin, Cargolifter ) = 55 co2_gpkm
  • Black cab 3 passengers = 75 co2_gpkm
  • Modern Truck per Tonne = 60 to 150 co2_gpkm
  • Electric Car driver only = 110 co2_gpkm
  • Car Petrol driver only = 153 co2_gpkm
  • Domestic Flights 100% full = 220 co2_gpkm
  • SUV Diesel driver only = 274 co2_gpkm
  • Air freight B747 per Tonne = 500 co2_gpkm 

Cycling is the most energy efficient form of transport which can be used for practical or transport purposes as well as leisure and fitness...  

We should all challenge ourselves to ask the right questions.  Do we really need suspension on a bicycle?  Do we need the next best thing?  Even with a bicycle we need to go back to the basic needs.  Do I need something that has only one purpose - to go downhill fast?  In 1990 Downhill was raced on the same bike as Cross country with no suspension!!  Do I really need an aerodynamic frame when my body shape will never be aerodynamic?  Everything has a carbon emissions cost, so we have to choose carefully.  What we do need more of are practical bicycles that are useful for a variety of day to day tasks.


This information gets buried in news feeds, so I am going to have this information on my website where it can be rediscovered (and corrected if needed).  I will go back to these figures once we understand the worst CO2e offenders.