The Costs of Walking

Monday, August 15, 2016

A blogger, drawing on publicly-available data, has calculated the fuel costs of various forms of transportation -- including walking, biking, and running -- and concluded that the last three modes of transport are the most expensive, in terms of fuel costs per mile:

Surprisingly, from a pure energy perspective (using the methodology mentioned above), biking, walking, and running are the three most expensive types of transportation listed ... [using] the average American daily food expense of $7.00, paired with an average caloric intake of 2500 calories per day, for a $0.0028/calorie cost. Some of you may look at this $7.00 per day and say, "I can do better than that"; to this I say, how about a McDonald's-only "complete/nutritious" diet running you $4.40 per day or $0.00176 per calorie (a ~37% reduction from the American mean).

Sadly, biking, walking, and running still check in as the most expensive forms of transportation to fuel.
In fact, it isn't until the author assumes an all-vegetable oil diet (!) that the dollar costs for fuel become comparable.

Interestingly, the author does not factor in time, although he admits that his calculations omit the basal metabolic rate from his energy cost calculations. This would make the human-powered modes even more expensive in dollar terms because they are all much slower. And factoring this in would still fail to do justice to one of the most valuable trade-off that speedier transportation offers -- allowing us to spend less time traveling and more time doing other things.

That said, those who walk, bike, or run to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide may not be doing that, given that food costs at least partially represent burned fossil fuel. On top of failing to achieve an end of debatable worth, they are making themselves poorer, in terms of money and time.

-- CAV

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