NYC Needs Huge Growth in Cycling to Reach de Blasio’s Climate Goals

Mayor de Blasio wants NYC on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, but reducing transportation-related emissions won’t be possible without a significant mode shift away from private vehicles.

Transportation accounts for more than a quarter of citywide greenhouse emissions, and a whopping 92 percent of that comes from cars and trucks. Reducing the number of cars on the streets is essential to the mayor’s emissions goals, according to the “Roadmap to 80 x 50” report released this week by the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability [PDF].

Mayor de Blasio's climate change plan relies on a dramatic increase in in-city bike trips. Image: Mayor's Office of Sustainability
Mayor de Blasio’s climate change plan relies on a dramatic increase in in-city bike trips. Image: NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability

The report proposes a decrease in the percentage of trips in private vehicles to 12 percent from the current 31 percent. Bikes would play an essential role in the shift, increasing from a 1 percent to 10 percent share of total trips — as would buses and trains, which today account for only eight percent of total citywide emissions.

Earlier this month, DOT released a blueprint for increasing bike mode share in its five-year strategic plan, which includes protected bike lanes and a five-borough Citi Bike system. The Office of Sustainability report also acknowledges that the city has a long way to go before cycling is an accessible transportation option in many parts of NYC.

“Despite the rapid growth in the city’s bicycle network, there are still many areas that lack sufficient bike connections,” the report says. “In addition to planned expansions, the City will emphasize an all-ages and abilities core network of protected bike lanes throughout the five boroughs, and the build-out of key connectors linking neighborhoods to transit hubs.”

The “Roadmap” report also assumes an increase in bus ridership — which the slate of reforms proposed by the NYC Bus Turnaround Campaign could help make possible.

The report highlights the public health effects of high emissions. Fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, released by vehicles causes 320 premature deaths and 870 emergency room visits each year, according to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

With 90 percent of total vehicle miles traveled coming from trips not beginning or ending in the Central Business District, Upper Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island are bearing the brunt of those emissions. To reduce emissions, bikes and other modes must replace car trips within the city, which account for 65 percent of total car trips citywide.

The report includes an interim goal of a 40 percent greenhouse gas reduction by 2030. It also lays out a business as usual scenario, with mode share relatively unchanged. In that case, greenhouse gas emissions would decline, thanks to improving technologies, but only by 36 percent by 2030 and 40 percent by 2050, compared to 2005.

  • mfs

    let’s be clearer- that chart is calling for cutting “personal car trips” by 2/3. The chart isn’t clear if it means that there are more overall trips taken, in which case that figure could be smaller, but then the leap in bike (already ten-fold) is that much bigger.

  • Joe R.

    They mention using an avoid/shift/improve strategy a number of times. If anything then, I’m assuming we’ll focus first on avoiding as many trips as possible, then shifting those which remain into better modes, and finally improving those modes if possible (i.e. electrifying motor vehicles). From a logical perspective this makes the most sense. The trip which has the least impact is one which is never made in the first place. I think we can have a huge decrease in commuting and peak hour loads via a combination of telecommuting, going from 5 to 4 or 3 day work weeks, plus some shifting of work hours to spread the load more evenly.

    If we assume NYC’s population will increase, then we’ll need to decrease the number of trips per capita just to keep the status quo. Either way, I think trip reduction needs to be the first priority.

  • Vooch

    currently 100 Miles of PBLs & 6,500 Miles of streets in NYC. Thats a pathetic percentage of streets with PBLs. Building a PBL costs about $500,000 per Mile. Creating 500 Miles of PBLs would cost a measely $250 Million, less than 1,000 ft of New Subway.

    What would increase Mobility more ?

    500 Miles of PBLs or 1,000ft of New Subway ?

  • Larry Littlefield

    I compared American Community Survey data from 2005 and 2015. With regard to Journey to Work, the numbers don’t match what I see on the street. With regard to “other means” the needle barely moved.

    https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/the-american-community-survey-economic-changes-from-2005-to-2015/

    Is there a population that isn’t answering the survey, or is something else going on?

  • Mfs

    The question is less than perfect, as it allows only one primary mode.

  • evo34

    Why not take the other approach and pass tighter vehicle (incl. trucks) emissions laws?

  • ahwr

    Vehicle emissions laws usually refer to local pollution issues. Greenhouse gas considerations would be covered by fuel economy standards.

    What has a greater impact on CO2e emissions: Another ten thousand trips a day of people driving one mile to grab a bite to eat off peak, or another ten thousand trips a day on commuter buses with trips of 10+ miles and plenty of deadheading by the bus from eastern queens/staten island/south brooklyn to midtown. Think the trips don’t substitute for one another so it doesn’t make sense to compare them? What about cutting out one thousand two mile car trips and replacing them with bike trips vs cutting one thousand twenty five mile car trips and replacing them with one thousand five mile car trips because people moved closer to where they were going?

    If the number of car trips declines as much as the plan calls for, but they triple in average length, and the number of transit trips stays the same, but the average length triples, is the decrease in greenhouse gasses notable?

    80% ‘sustainable trips’ by 2050 might be a nice marketing line, but it’s a pretty worthless metric.

  • evo34

    Because most people have zero interest in biking. 50 years from now, we’re not going to have a city full of bicycles. We’re going to have a city full of near-emissionless vehicles. The speed with which we get there is the question. Calif. is light years ahead of NYC in this regard.

    Idealistic crap like forcing people to ride bikes simply will not happen, no matter how much foot stomping occurs.

  • Guy Ross

    Hmmmm…..

    There are many examples to dispel this. The Netherlands have achieved it. Bicycle modal share in Germany is exploding despite a transportation dept. wholly controlled by the Deutsche Bahn and Volkswagen and it having terrible cycle infrastructure.

    It is not foot stomping. It is removing the financial and cultural subsidies we as a country have given the private automobile the past half century and placing it in other directions. Look around you on your commute home tonight. Those people sitting in traffic seem to be living the life they want?

    Yeah, if you raise generation hammering home the point that there is no alternative to and no higher aspiration than automobile ownership and you have a population who believes that. Seemed to work for you!

  • evo34

    There are plenty of alternatives to using a car, jackass. But they’re all slow as hell. Why do you think we stopped using the horse and buggy?

    And yes, people listening to the radio in cushy seats always look a shit-ton happier than cyclists covered in mud and road rash.

  • Alicia

    What the heck is “road rash” supposed to be?

  • Larry Littlefield

    That may be so, and it’s just work trips.

    Even so, based on what I see on the street I would have expected more growth even at that for bicycling.

    And, based on the hype, for car service/taxi/Uber. The Bloomberg Administration, as I recall, also promoted taxi stands for ride sharing.

    That is particularly the case with bus travel falling, although perhaps the subway is taking from all modes.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The scab you get after scraping your skin on the pavement after being hit by evo34’s car door.

    He probably splatter the mud on you too.

  • van_vlissingen

    10-20 miles of PBL / borough / year is doable (if frustratingly slow). In fact I believe we’ll hit 20 miles of new PBL in 2016. I would like to see DOT explore doing more PBL outside of Manhattan and hipster Brooklyn.

  • Elizabeth F

    I’m dismayed to see that evo34 is not being civil. However, inbetween the invective, he does have some points. There are some key issues here that people tend to ignore:

    1. Transit requires almost as much energy as automobiles; in that sense, it is only marginally more “sustainable” than any other form of motorized transportation. The vast majority of energy savings from transit comes from reducing the demand for transportation by building at higher density. This savings is achieved not by getting people out of their cars, but by building at higher densities!

    2. Automobiles are the dominant form of transportation in every wealthy nation, including Europe. The largest reductions in energy use will be achieved in the shortest amount of time by increased efficiency standards.

    3. The only (known) way to drastically reduce energy use by mode switching is to switch to electric bicycles. Is this practical? Maybe, sort of. Asian cities offer an example of what is possible. On the other hand, Asian consumers get an automobile as soon as they can — even if the congestion is so severe that they can’t drive it very far.

    4. Bicycles are great (I depend on mine). But comparisons between NYC
    and various Dutch cities are not useful, mainly because NYC is so much
    bigger. In spite of its density, NYC residents travel surprisingly long
    to where they need to go, just because the city is so big. For this
    reason, other things being equal, bicycle use goes down as city size
    goes up. Look it up, all over the world…

    5. In order to address climate change issues, we need to reduce our carbon emissions by 100%. That goal will never be achieved by driving less, or riding the bus, or even by making more efficient cars. The only way to achieve that reduction is to switch to non-carbon forms of energy. That process will be made easier if we have electric cars and we’re using less energy rather than more. But it does not fundamentally change the core problem.

  • Guy Ross

    Oh dear, thought we were having a big boy conversation.

    Have a good one ‘Evo34’

  • Elizabeth F

    > currently 100 Miles of PBLs & 6,500 Miles of streets in NYC.

    This is a worthless metric because most streets see little traffic, go almost nowhere, and will never see (or need to see) a PBL. You could use the same “argument” in support of building more traffic lights (most streets have nothing more than a stop sign), more suburban arterials (most steets are local neighborhood streets), or even more paving (most roads in America are unpaved).

  • Joe R.

    Cars are slower than hell in large cities if even a small fraction of the population uses them. Automobiles work fine in rural areas where traffic is nearly always free-flowing. They just don’t scale well to urban areas.

  • Joe R.

    This kind of drives home the point that the best approach is to focus on reducing the number and length of trips. The best trip from an impact point of view is the one which is never made. Work commutes are a great place to start since almost nobody enjoys them and they account for a large fraction of vehicle miles traveled. We need incentives for telecommuting, work weeks with fewer days, and also disincentives for business travel. With technology getting more advanced, it should be easier for more and more people to work at home but management needs to get on board. Thus far, they’ve been mostly tepid to the idea.

  • Joe R.

    Bicycle use goes down as city size goes up for the simple reason we haven’t applied technology to make bicycles faster on a large scale. When people think of human-powered transportation, almost invariably they think of a heavy, upright bike loafing along at 10 to 15 mph on city streets, probably averaging only 7 or 8 mph once you consider all the obstacles. They don’t think of something like this:

    Obviously these need infrastructure where they can get up to speed and stay there for most of the trip but such infrastructure would be far less expensive than motor highways and could help us get to our goal of reducing pollution and carbon emissions. Commutes of 10+ miles in well under 30 minutes are easily possible with machines like this. Many are even totally enclosed for weather protection.

    Cycling mode share is more about how far you can get in 30 minutes versus actual distance. Average speeds of 7 or 8 mph limit trips to only a few miles. A good velomobile on dedicated non-stop infrastructure offers averages speeds of 20 to 30 mph, giving us a radius of 10 to 15 miles. That just about covers most trips in NYC.

  • Vooch
  • Geck

    Many people are discouraged from considering biking as an alternative because unlike some Northern European societies, we have neglected to provide potential cyclists with good infrastructure-they have to share the road with dangerous motor vehicles. It is not about forcing people to use bicycles, but making it a viable alternative. No matter how big the city, most trips are relatively short and eminently bikable.Yes a move to electric vehicles powered by renewable energy is essential, but in dense cities-where congestion will continue to be a problem no matter how motor vehicles are powered (and using a bicycle is often as fast or faster)-a large bicycle mode share is a big part of the solution.

  • qrt145

    Emissions are bad, but they are not the main reason why cars are bad for cities. Cars taking too much space is the main issue.

  • Boris

    We also need more business districts in areas close to large amounts of housing. Staten Island, for example, is job-starved – the reason that borough has the longest commute isn’t only because of a lack of a proper transit network, but also because so many workers have to leave the borough to get to their jobs. If the Teleport and SI Industrial Park were built as mixed-use developments with transit, a network of complete streets, and workforce housing, it would’ve been way more successful than the current suburban wasteland. People who worked there would have very short commutes. Same goes for areas like Jamaica, East New York, anywhere with an express subway stop – they need to become more like MetroTech, providing jobs locally.

  • AMH

    “most people have zero interest in biking”

    Source?

  • AMH

    I wouldn’t say almost as much as autos. Rail transit uses a lot of energy, but its efficiency isn’t anything to scoff at.

    http://www.afdc.energy.gov/data/10311

  • Bernard Finucane

    Road rash is when you crash your bike and skin your legs. It’s a word we used when I was into bike racing.

  • Bernard Finucane

    >slow as hell

    Speed of transportation is not important. This is particularly true of maximum speed.

    What’s important to the individual is time to destination, not maximum speed trying to get there. consider the old math problem:

    You want to drive a 2 mile course at an average speed of 60 MPH. After the first mile you notice you have averaged 30 MPH. How fast do you have to travel the second mile to reach your goal?

    Another point is that most Americans spend most of their time in cars driving past parking lots, other traffic infrastructure, and land blighted by cars. The only problem the car is solving is one it causes.

    To a traffic planner, throughput (e.g. passengers per hour) is the important. Here bicycle crush cars completely in populated areas. Imagine the chaos if these people were in cars.

  • Joe R.

    You also need to look at the energy embedded in the manufacture of the vehicles, the roads, the rails, the stations, the garages to store vehicles, etc. In addition there is the energy used for lighting stations or roads. You also have energy used policing roads, providing emergency services when incidents occur, and so forth. Just looking at the energy the vehicle itself uses misses the big picture. While factoring in everything I mentioned is undoubtedly quite complex, my guess would be mass transit comes out a lot further ahead than just the vehicle energy use numbers might indicate.

  • AMH

    Excellent points. I know that emergency response is a HUGE external cost of the highway system.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    You don’t have to have a silly machine to make bicycling faster. I have an ordinary electric bike, that looks like a regular bicycle and is totally silent, and cost about 1/3rd as much as these spandex-wearing weirdos spend on their road racing bikes, on which I sit bolt upright, loafing along at 25MPH.

  • Joe R.

    That works also. The general idea though is to make cycling faster via some combination of improved hardware and better infrastructure. That will increase mode share in large cities.

  • Vooch

    for nearly Every Trip less than 3 Miles, Using a Car Takes More Time than using a private car

  • Eric McClure

    Sure, and they celebrate their happiness by leaning on the horn.

  • Elizabeth F

    Every time someone has given the “you must look at embedded costs” arugment, I’ve found that they have little effect on the overall outcome. You’re welcome to do such an analysis if you wish.

    But when doing so… just remember that we need policing, roads and street lights even if everybody rides trains.

  • Elizabeth F

    The problem here, I believe, is that MPG is an inherently deceptive measure (going from 18mpg to 22mpg saves you a more than going from 30mpg to 40mpg). So, taking your figures…

    [Remember: X mpg = 235.215/X l/100km]

    Cars: 38.92 pmg = 6.04 l/100pkm
    Commuter Rail: 42.79 pmpg = 5.37 l/100pkm
    Transit Rail (MTA Subway): 51.82 pmpg = 4.54 l/100 pkm
    Prius (assume 1-occupant): 53 mpg = 4.44 l/100pkm
    Chevy Bolt: 100 mpge = 2.35 l/100pkm
    E-bike (conservative estimate): 1000 mpg = .23 l/100pkm

    It should already be obvious that switching to a Prius will save you more energy on avarage than riding commuter rail. Now… consider certain scenarios, and how much energy (in l/100pkm) would be used on each of them:

    Scenario A: Everybody drives: 6.04 l/100pkm

    Scenario B: 1/2 people drive, 1/4 take commuter rail, and take transit: 5.49 l/100pkm (9% energy savings)

    Scenario C: Everybody drives a Prius: 4.44 l/100pkm (24% energy savings)

    Scenario D: Everybody drives a Chevy Bolt: 2.35 l/100pkm (61% energy savings)

    As you can see, the most invasive and unlikely of these scenarios (large-scale switching to transit, which would have significant costs in peoples’ time) is also saves the least in terms of CO2 footprint. The least expensive, and least invasive (large-scale improvement of automobile efficiency) saves the most. That is why the Obama administration’s fuel economy mandate of 50+mpg is so signficiant — and dwarfs any CO2 savings we will ever see from transit mode switching.

    One last scenario to consider: 25% on e-bike, 75% drive traditional cars: 4.58 l/100km (24% savings). As you can see, mode-switching to e-bike is far more effective that mode-switching to transit.

    I reset my case that transit uses almost as much energy as automobiles. In fact, anyone concerned with their transportation energy use will find it easier to just buy a Prius than to start riding the bus or train — and will probably save more energy in the end. Anyone REALLY concerned (and ambitious) will see if they can mode-switch at least part of their trips to an e-bike, and they will see the most reduction of CO2 footprint.

  • Elizabeth F

    Higher speeds ==> higher chance of death if you crash. That’s why motorcycles are so much more dangerous than bicycles. I think the best compromise is e-bikes going 20-25mph, combined with bicycle expressways that have limited stops.

  • Tim Troxler

    Emissions laws can only go so far in reducing congestion. If you consider an automobile-oriented transportation system in its entirety, it is amazingly failure prone. The largest cause of accidents is driver error. So, every time you raise the capacity of a highway, you also increase the odds of an accident happening, and of course those accidents impact other drivers. You are also dependent on the level of maintenance that other drivers are able to provide for their vehicles. Granted, much of that problem will be eliminated by autonomous cars, but thousands of individual movements by single-occupancy cars still has a high chance of accidents and of course volume-related congestion. Get people into other modes or carpools, and traffic moves smoother and energy use is reduced. Land use planning is also important so that you don’t have so many thousands of people trying to get to the same district of the city at once.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    We’re not going to achieve mass cycling with the current quality of bike facilities. Ride up the 1st Avenue “protected bike lane” at 5-6pm on a weekday afternoon and you’ll see what I mean.

    Only someone dedicated to cycling would put up with such conditions for long before switching back to another mode.

  • Joe R.

    I found some semi-relevant info of that:

    http://www.lightrailnow.org/facts/fa_lrt_2007-08a.htm

    At the very least we need to include energy needed to extract, process, and transport oil.

    Whether we still need roads or police or hospitals even in the absence of private automobiles tends to ignore the scale of what we need. Roads could be much narrower if they didn’t need to cater to hordes of private automobiles. “Highway patrols” are a cottage industry which began with automobile use. There is a huge amount of energy use associated with fixing victims of automobile crashes, transporting them to doctors, and so having people go to them when they need assistance. I wish I could find some numbers but I tend to think they would affect the overall outcome by more than a little.

    Obviously I agree we have to go on non-carbon producing forms of energy sooner rather than later regardless of how much energy our transportation uses. And I also tend to agree more or less that reducing energy use alone isn’t going to solve the problem for us. It will make it easier for sure in that we could shut down dirty sources of power but those who think we can conserve our way out of this are sorely mistaken

  • Joe R.

    That’s an extremely important point. If we want to increase bicycle mode share we need facilities which meet all of the following criteria:

    1) They must feel safe and must BE safe. That means few or no conflicts with motor vehicles and minimal conflicts with pedestrians.

    2) They must serve cyclists of all abilities and speeds from a 6 mph child cyclist up to a strong adult cyclist going 25 or 30 mph in a velomobile or on an e-bike.

    3) #2 implies there must be room for safe passing and good visibility.

    4) They must have minimal, preferably no, stopping or slowing down. This is to make cycling more pleasant, less strenuous, and much faster.

    5) They must go where people need to go. There may be a handful of facilities meeting the first four criteria but most are isolated bike paths primarily suitable for recreation. Nothing wrong with building those also, but you’re not getting people to use bikes for transportation with only such facilities.

    The so-called protected bike lane on 1st Avenue doesn’t really meet any of these criteria except #5. It fails particularly badly on #4. It’s nothing to right home over on #1 through #3, either.

  • Joe R.

    It seems to me the recumbent position of velomobiles make them quite a bit safer in crashes than regular bikes. This might put “safe” speeds closer to 35 or 40 mph, perhaps even higher. It’s further worth noting in professional racing circles most injuries sustained in crashes under about 40 mph aren’t life-threatening. I personally crashed once at 37 mph but only sustained skin abrasions. I was back on the bike the next day. Unlike in an automobile crash where you will be subject to sudden deceleration, bike crashes (other than those involving an automobile) tend to involve the victim being thrown off the bike and decelerating relatively slowly. The fall itself is the primary mechanism for injury but you’re falling no further in a 40 mph crash than a 10 mph one. Obviously road rash will be much worse in the former case but this isn’t a life-threatening injury.

  • Joe R.

    Energy per passenger mile (in either joules or BTUs) is a much better measure because it’s agnostic to how the vehicle a powered. You don’t need fancy studies for that, either. You just need to know basic rail and road resistance equations. It’s also important to compare all modes at the same speed to get a good idea of their relative efficiencies. Trains may not do as well here because they tend to go a lot faster than automobiles. For example, I’ve heard people mention high-speed rail is no more efficient per passenger mile than a large sedan (both cases assume a full passenger load). While that’s certainly true it also ignores the fact HSR is going three times as fast. If the high-speed train cruised at 65 mph it would be perhaps 15 times as efficient.

    Not helping matters either are FRA regulations which cause rail vehicles to be a lot heavier than they need to be. This hurts especially in terms of the energy needed to accelerate.

  • evo34

    I’ve been hit by more bicycles than cars in NYC. I’m still waiting to witness the first cyclist stopping at a red light.

  • Elizabeth F

    > I found some semi-relevant info of that:

    Those issues are relevant when comparing overall energy efficiency of electric vs. dino-powered transportation. They are already factored into the ~100mpge that typical electric cars get, as well as the 1000-2000 mpge you get on an e-bike.

    > Roads could be much narrower if they didn’t need to cater to hordes of private automobiles.

    Now you’re getting to the real benefit of transit… not that it’s more efficient per passenger-mile, but that it enables the construction of higher-density cities with reduced demand for transportation. But once those cities are built, driving around them is only marginally less efficient than taking a train. The obvious conclusion is we should focus our energy on building better cities, rather than trying to get people to mode-switch to transit.

    > There is a huge amount of energy use associated with fixing victims of automobile crashes

    Go ahead, find the numbers. CO2 footprint of random things correlates approximately with price in dollars. Auto insurance and capital costs of automobiles are significant but affordable. With all such costs factored in, you get about $.55/mi, which is far less than the ~$.90/mi we pay for transit. Even after you add in all the “hidden” costs (for example, count oil at $200/barrel or something), you still won’t make it to $.90/mi.

    Why do people find it so hard to accept the idea that automobiles might not be so inefficient, comparatively? They were in the 1970’s when we were told to ride the bus, but they’ve improved a lot since then.

  • Miles Bader

    Well-implemented HSR is far more efficient than automobiles. Well-implemented local passenger rail can be even more efficient than HSR. As you say, lower speeds help efficiency, as at HSR speeds air resistance is the main source of energy usage, plus load factors on local rail can be better.

    E.g. the N700 Shinkansen travelling between Tokyo and Osaka uses about 0.086 MJ/seat-km. The average load factor of the Tokaido shinkansen is somewhere in the range of 65-70%, so on average that’s about 0.13 MJ/person-km.

    Assuming 121MJ per gallon of gasoline (a standard figure), a 50mpg car with 2 passengers (typical?) will use 0.75 MJ/person-km.

    If you assume a full passenger load (4 people in the car), the figures are then 0.086 MJ/person-km (N700) and 1.5 MJ/person-km (car).

    EMU-based local rapid transit is even more efficient: The Tokyu 5000 series, at full rated capacity (note that this is not crush-loading; crush-loading is far more than “full” capacity) gets around 0.038 MJ/person-km.

    [From [2], 1.6 kWh/car-km, and the average official capacity for the Tokyu 5000 series of about 150 people/car]

    You have to be careful about using figures for rail efficiency from Wikipedia, because there’s tons of dubious figures there.

    [1] https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=1el-e-31Y_0C&lpg=PT444&ots=BP9odJ0qUA&dq=shinkansen%20n700%20MJ&hl=ja&pg=PT445#v=onepage&q=0.086&f=false
    [2] http://www.tokyu.co.jp/csr/tkk_kankyo/pdf/data/2005eibun.pdf

  • Tim Troxler

    If you were hit by a car, just ONCE, more than likely you’d be dead.

  • Miles Bader

    Where do you get your figures? A well-designed EMU is far more efficient than the numbers you give, unless it has crazy-low load factors.

    E.g. the Tokyu 5000-series EMU has an efficiency of 0.038 MJ/person-km at “full” rated capacity (around 150 people/car). Using your units, that’s 0.12 l/100pkm. [why do you use such weird units anyway?]

    Your figure for the MTA, which is roughly the same sort of technology (albeit older), is 50 times worse. The MTA may have older less efficient tech, but it’s not that bad, and it may have lower load factors, but not that low…

    [See my reply to Joe below for citations.]

  • Elizabeth F

    > [why do you use such weird units anyway?]

    I needed to use SOME units in terms of [energy]/[distance], and l/100km is widely used for automobile fuel economy in Europe.

    > Where do you get your figures?

    Directly from the link provided by AMH

    > E.g. the Tokyu 5000-series EMU has an efficiency of 0.038 MJ/person-km at “full” rated capacity (around 150 people/car)

    Show me the reference. This is far lower than any numbers I’ve ever seen. The link provided by AMH, in contrast, is closer to the numbers I’ve seen in the past from the DOE.

    Two obvious problems:
    (a) In oconverting MJ/km to l/100 km, have you taken into account electric generation losses?
    (b) Full rated capacity is never possible on a transit system, 25-50% mean capacity is more realistic.

    > Your figure for the MTA, which is roughly the same sort of technology (albeit older), is 50 times worse.

    It’s what was in the article quoted by AMH. When you see a discrepancy of 50x, it means there’s a mistake in one of the numbers.

    Actually, the MTA has load factors about as good as the best of them.

  • ahwr

    Anyone REALLY concerned (and ambitious) will see if they can mode-switch at least part of their trips to an e-bike, and they will see the most reduction of CO2 footprint.

    Or change travel habits/move. Like you said, the real environmental benefits of transit is the land use they can support relative to auto based transportation system.

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