by Jerome a Paris
Mon Jul 3rd, 2006 at 05:35:07 AM EST
(Well, not exactly the FT, but actually even better: this is written by one of their best, most liked and most respected columnists, Lucy Kellaway: Pleasures of a balanced commute
[T]oday I have come up with 10 excellent reasons why cycling to work would be a very good idea for you. It will make you richer, healthier, possibly thinner and definitely less bonkers. It will help you make new friends, it will make you feel virtuous, it will give you more spare time. You will be more productive at work and you’ll also save the planet. If you are in your mid forties, you will lose a quarter of a century instantly and feel just like an undergraduate again.
This is a very impressive list of benefits, you must agree. In fact I defy anyone to name any other change to the working day that could be so beneficial in so many ways as commuting by bike.
By far the biggest advantage for me is what my bike does to my spirits. Every day I am calmed and cheered by my ride. (...)
The other great beauty of cycling is its efficiency. My commute is five minutes quicker than the train and costs £80 ($145) less a month.
Now for the two main shortfalls. The first is sweat, which a lot of people tell me is what prevents them from getting on their bikes. Speaking personally, I don’t find this much of a problem. I cycle in high heels, lipstick and normal office clothes and go straight from the bike sheds to my desk neither unduly soggy nor dishevelled.
There is finally the question about getting killed. Cyclists are bundles of soft tissue who don’t have much chance when up against one of those massive bendy buses. Cycling is dangerous, and you are very silly if you cycle without a helmet and all the safety gear.
Yet despite the risk, I hardly ever feel frightened on my bike. I feel alert and alive, but not scared.
Oh, and the FT also has a more wonkish opinion piece on carbon trading with the same conclusion:
Car industry needs carbon trading
Governments in much of the developed world have begun pushing the car and oil industries to invest in technologies – hybrid cars and biofuels in particular – that are not yet properly developed.
Hybrids have become synonymous with green awareness while, in the imaginations of both public and policymakers, biofuels, made from plants, must be a good thing. But neither makes environmental sense and the government-sponsored rush to adopt them pushes up the cost of both cars and petrol.
It is not that hybrid petrol-electric cars or biofuels are bad for global warming, although some biofuel, made in coal-burning facilities, produces more CO2 than petrol. The problem is that both are expensive – and far more so than other ways of reducing CO2.
Hybrid cars – transport of choice for environmentally-minded government ministers – will cost €1,062 per tonne of CO2 saved, as well as being loss-making for almost all manufacturers. As I sat on my bike watching the haze over a queue of traffic, this did not immediately bother me and few in Brussels, Washington or Westminster are overly concerned about the profitability of car and oil companies. But if the money is spent on making engines produce a little less CO2, it is not being spent on other ways of reducing CO2 that are more effective and cheaper.
Europe’s carbon trading scheme valued cuts of a tonne of CO2 at a peak of €31, because there are still so many cheap ways to save energy in less efficient industries.
This is not to say that carmakers should be free to ignore carbon emissions – their vehicles produce a quarter of man-made CO2 emissions, after all. But they should be free to choose how to reduce carbon, not be locked into certain technologies by governments. (One of the technologies being pushed by Washington and Toyota – a “plug-in” hybrid with an external recharger – actually results in more carbon emissions than a plain petrol car because so much US electricity comes from coal.)
Automotive carbon trading might not provide politicians with the image boost they get from driving a Toyota Prius hybrid or filling up a car with ethanol from Iowa’s cornfields, but it would be far more effective at fighting global warming. Or you could just get on your bike.
We have to keep on hammering this:
Producing more fuel is increasingly difficult
Thinking about reducing consumption is good
Using subsidies to encourage specific technologies is of dubious value
Reflecting the real cost in pollution and greenhouse gas emissions of various uses of energy is vital
Carbon trading is an effective way to get results
But it still won't beat using your bike...