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Speaking of natural resources and wasting them...(26 posts)

Speaking of natural resources and wasting them...Fez
Sep 17, 2002 2:00 PM
The SUV thread has really gotten big. Wouldn't everything be a little happier if everyone just drove gently? And had a little patience and courtesy?

Imagine, motorists and cyclists could get along. Everyone should have the freedom to make responsible choices when selecting a vehicle to drive. And speaking of natural resources, if we just drove economically and tried to drive a little less (combine trips, eliminate unnecessary ones) we could save some gas. People seem to forget that driving fewer miles also saves gas than trying to select a car with better fuel efficiency.

And here's food for thought - have you ever wondered what the point of auto racing really is? It wastes natural resources - fuel, fluids, tires, auto parts, etc. like crazy. And don't give me that bull that it helps passenger car design - that's marketing BS. Auto companies do plenty of R&D outside the race track - it just sounds real good from a marketing perspective that that VTEC engine in your Civic is Formula 1 derived.
And there seems to be a great demand forFez
Sep 17, 2002 2:01 PM
NASCAR, CART, IRL, and Formula 1 races. Probably not going to go away soon.
re: Speaking of natural resources and wasting them...fbg111
Sep 17, 2002 2:33 PM
Yeah, and it's really not that hard to be courteous and patient on the road. I don't know why some people just can't do it.

As for auto racing, I'll give you that bull that it helps passenger car design, although that's not the primary reason for it (entertainment is). Racing pushes cars, their components, lubricants, etc. to higher stresses than any other controlled or laboratory testing. Plus, the companies get feedback from top drivers and engineers to help them figure out ways of making their cars better. Just like professional biking teams - afaik, most modern frames are either designed by accomplished racers, or at least have some input from them.

Finally, I question how much resources racing truly uses up. In all the racing events in the world, there are probably no more than 100,000 vehicles involved (assuming an average of 50 vehicles/event and ~2000 events/year; feel free to correct this rough estimate if you think otherwise). Racing for a day here and a day there vs. several hundred million cars, trucks, SUV's driving every day of the year. Even considering the speed differences, I think the latter is grossly more resource intensive.
Auto racing vs. bike racingFez
Sep 17, 2002 2:47 PM
1. Auto R&D would still be able to formulate fluids and design auto components w/o auto racing. There are plenty of machined parts, bearings, rubber parts and fluids used in all types of industry that are well designed. A racing environment is not key to great design.

2. For the sake of wasting resources, I was not comparing auto racing to every car on the U.S. roads. The bottom line is auto racing wastes resources and pollutes the environment a hell of a lot. That's a huge price we have to pay for something that is considered a sport by some.

3. Bike racing is not harmful to the environment the way auto racing is. Retail racing bikes that you and I can buy are derived from the sport of bike racing. That is because the bikes used in professional races are nearly identical to the ones we amateurs ride, either for fun or because we race or just ride for fun. No one can buy a NASCAR race car, or drive it legally on the streets
FWIW, alcohol is the fuel in F1/CART. Just so many tires! nmSpunout
Sep 17, 2002 3:14 PM
methanol=WOOD alcohol, ethanol=GRAIN alcohol, but best of all isIAmtnbikr
Sep 17, 2002 3:36 PM
nitromethane! Which is actually a byproduct of a form of petroleum refining. Gas is for driving, alcohol is for drinking, and NITRO is for racing!
uhDougSloan
Sep 17, 2002 3:49 PM
Methanol for Cart and Indy, yes. Unleaded gasoline for F1, though.

Doug
It is when I ride my bike, too (nm)Stampertje
Sep 18, 2002 4:14 AM
Auto racing vs. bike racingrufus
Sep 17, 2002 5:52 PM
but what about that caravan of fossil burning vehicles that precedes and follows just about any decent sized bike race in the world?

i have a hard time when cyclists try to build their sport up by comparing it to cars and how awful they are. bikes use petroleum based products also, in the tires, tubes, lubes, etc.

i like cycling and love the sport. but i also love driving my car, often jumping in it just to go anywhere just for the hell of it. i don't hate cars because i ride a bike, or vice versa.
Auto racing vs. bike racingup_hiller
Sep 18, 2002 8:01 AM
The production of one bicycle actually causes more pollution than the production of one automobile. This is a product mainly of the fact that so few bikes are built in comparison to cars. Think about how many factories there are where bikes and bike parts are produced. Those factories, just like factories in most (if not all) other industries, probably don't completely shut down their machines when they are not actually running, and due to pretty low demand I seriously doubt that they have to run 24 hours a day.

The automotive industry, OTOH, is largely a 24/6 or 24/7 affair. I work in an auto parts assembly plant, and I can tell you that even though many of thelines here only run two shifts a day 5 days a week, the machines are on ALL THE TIME. I have often wondered what percentage of the plant's electricity could be saved if this weren't the case, but it's simply not worth it due to the production time that would be lost having to start up machines every day. In some cases product quality would also be affected, but that gets too complicated to bother with here...

If everyone rode a bike, millions more would be produced, and the average resource expenditure to build one would drop dramatically. But, until a whole lot more people start riding, that just won't happen.
...but from a cyclist's perspectiveSpunout
Sep 18, 2002 3:35 AM
Nobody realizes how much heat and energy are wasted by the internal combustion engine until you are riding outside at their level. Even on cool days, it is hot, stinky, and acrid.

Can this be good at all to us or our environment? I admit guilt to purging the odd bit of methane now and then, but not to that extent.

Bottom line, is that it is not good. Motorists must realize that the auto (in the USA) is not a God-given right, but a priviledge as it would be considered in Europe. Nobody stops to think of alternatives, or the long term effect of what they are doing while driving.

Fuel is too cheap. Gas guzzler taxes are ineffective. Environmental conscience is dwarfed by big oil. There is a Texan in the Whitehouse.

'nuff said.
I'm sure we all agreeishmael
Sep 18, 2002 5:49 AM
polution is bad, but what are your goals? Do you want to stop all car races? bicycle race caravans? all cars period? The price of gas will have to go way up for that to happend, everyone is looking out for themselves. We need a cheap alternative. Electricity can be almost as cheaply produced by windmills as coal and its getting cheaper. Windmills and electric cars are as close to a perfect solution as I can expect. There is fuel cell technology but producing the liquid hydrogen takes a lot of power, and if its not produced by wind then its just passing the problem elsewhere. Support windpower, support the Clean Air Council(its my new job) you can send me a check or I'll be coming to your door to convince you.
People litter on their own streets. How can you expect themtz
Sep 18, 2002 5:21 AM
to care for the environment? I live in Brooklyn, work in Manhattan and ride in NJ, and there are plenty of pigs everywhere. Smart-dressed lawyers, MDs and ragged illegal immigrants - all s&^%it where they live. And you expect them to have some concern for fuel economy?!
Pleasant dreams....
veru good point. nmSteve_0
Sep 18, 2002 7:56 AM
Let he who is without sin...DougSloan
Sep 18, 2002 5:58 AM
If we are going to talk waste, let's be complete and fair. Who among us does NOT waste resources?

If one were to live even at a decent quality of life standard in the U.S., I think it would take the following to qualify as not wasting resources:

1. Live in an apartment of less that 1,000 square feet; no one except a family of 5 or more really needs more than that; heating and cooling needs would proportionately be reduced.

2. Drive a car, but only when necessary, that gets over 40 mpg. There are plenty from which to choose. Also, never drive over 55 mph. Take public transportation whenever possible. Keep the car perfectly maintained, especially tire pressures an engine.

3. Stay off the freaking computer. It's purely entertainment, for the most part, except for work, to send and read e-mail (that saves paper and postage), and to read the newspaper (again, saving paper).

4. Keep the lights out, low, or use only flourescent fixtures.

5. Bathe only every 2nd or 3rd day.

6. Nope, you can't ride a bike, except for transportation. Riding a bike for recreation or sport is a waste, as it, too, requires the expenditure of natural resources (food, tires, clothing, etc.). Thirty minutes of jogging three times per week is sufficient to maintain healthy cardiovascular fitness.

The desire to ban things deemed "wasteful" usually means the proponent simply doesn't care for the activity, but likely has lots of other activities that are wasteful himself (the opponent of auto racing, for example, might thinking nothing of driving a few hundred miles for a canoe trip).

>"Wouldn't everything be a little happier if everyone just drove gently? And had a little patience and courtesy?"

Damn right. That's something the no one can argue with. It applies not only to driving, but to just about all aspects of life these days. Too many people are just plain mean, unthoughtful, and inconsiderate.

Doug
Well said...noveread
Sep 18, 2002 7:23 AM
...and I just bought a new truck last night! Heh-heh! So shoot me! :)

Andy
if you think youre being tongue-in-cheek..Steve_0
Sep 18, 2002 7:59 AM
you need to visit some 3rd world countries. You may find, after seeing entire societies which exist exactly as you described, we're ALL being wasteful.

You may even decide to change what you can in your own life.

or you can just ignore it and proclaim your 'personal freedoms'
if you think youre being tongue-in-cheek..Steve_0
Sep 18, 2002 8:03 AM
heck with 3rd world; as I reread your post, I realized even many european nations exist as you describe.
Back to the car racing thing....Snowbird
Sep 18, 2002 10:03 AM
The federal govt. was thinking of banning car racing during the 70's oil crisis. Bill France pointed out that it takes more fuel to fly one NFL team to a game than is consumed by the entire field in a NASCAR race! Ban racing and you'll have to ban a lot of other stuff as well.
Back to the car racing thing....clintb
Sep 18, 2002 11:23 AM
And on that same line of thought.. When I raced motocross many years ago, I read an article about motocross races being banned due to the pollution. It was found that a motocross bike pollutes less than the average lawn mower. I think the article was in a motocross magazine and it was being debated in California. Let's ban lawnmowing!!
Back to the car racing thing....moabbiker
Sep 18, 2002 1:56 PM
Well, 90% of the mowers in use are in fact incredibly polluting. Largely due to the terribly old and inefficient design (the ones that don't use OHV engines). Any non-OHV pushmower shoots out more pollutants than a modern passenger vehicle.
The big fuel waste in auto racing is ...Humma Hah
Sep 18, 2002 2:41 PM
I once answered a complaint about the gasoline wasted in the Indy 500: those cars burn alcohol and so don't waste even a drop of gasoline!

However, as I wrote that, I realized that by far and away the biggest fuel use in the Indy 500 is the amount burned by tens of thousands of fans driving to the race and home again. And that would apply to ANY spectator sport. For that matter, it applies to cyclists who load their bikes onto their cars and drive hundreds or thousands of miles to an event.

I burned less than a tank of gas in three months while living in San Diego, while putting in huge bike miles. But then I'd get on a jet airliner and fly 2800 miles to Virginia and back several times a year.

We're ALL guilty, all but a very few.
you are correct sirDougSloan
Sep 18, 2002 3:09 PM
I've been to the Indy 500 twice. Over 500,000 people there, many in motorhomes. Plus, consider the huge caravan of trucks that transport the race cars, crews, tools, etc., from place to place. There is no doubt about it, racing consume lots of fuel in one form or another.

Nonetheless, so does most any spectator event, whether is be a football game, bike race (I read that over 180 motor vehicles are in the Tour de France caravan), or rock concert. You are right, though, the fuel actually consumed in the racing itself is miniscule compared to everything else.

Doug
Here's some more food for thought:Leisure
Sep 19, 2002 1:50 AM
On the one extreme, we have roadbikes, the epitome of efficiency. On the other, we have full-size trucks/SUVs (and to a lesser extent exotic sports cars, an extreme minority but included just to be fair).

On the one hand, we have what weighs maybe 20% what the rider weighs and makes transportation considerably more efficient than walking or running. On the other, we have something that weighs approaching two orders of magnitude more than the rider and typically achieves no better than 20% thermal efficiency (a generous estimate I might add, compared to 50% for human muscle)- meaning it burns five times as much energy as is actually put into moving itself. Taking an approximate calculation, a 160 pound individual in an 8000 pound Suburban expends over 100 times what he would on a bike.

Or switching things around the other way, one guy in Louisiana driving a Suburban two miles to get to a 7-11 consumes more energy than 100 Japanese businessmen each going the same distance. Even granting a lot of leisure driving, most of us could easily cut away half our gas expenditure, many considerably more than that. Something to think about.

Anyway Fez, I think the first line of your thread is the most important point.
how many cars should we own?DougSloan
Sep 19, 2002 6:12 AM
A bike is a very specialized vehicle. It's good for hauling one individual up to about 20 mph average, at best, for a limited distance, exposing the rider to the elements, and usually getting the rider a bit dirty and sweaty.

A 2 door mini compact car can haul 2-4 people at a reasonable speed anywhere, but has limited cargo capacity and is not quite as safe as larger vehicles in a collision.

A Suburban, at 6,000 pounds, can haul 8 people in real comfort at reasonable speeds, over just about any terrain, can pull large trailers and haul a thousand pounds of large cargo inside, and is much safer than the mini compact in a collision.

Those are some fair extremes, but certainly there are dozens of examples in between. Here's the issue, should people buy multiple cars so that they always are driving one no less efficient than necessary at the time? What if someone needs the large hauler several times a year, even if that means driving it every other day, wasting resources and suffering the wrath of every eco-minded SUV hater on the planet? What's a reasonable solution here?

Doug
people know what's good for them, mind your own businessRaf1
Sep 19, 2002 7:31 PM
Don't try to better the world by telling other people what to do. It is their life, you get busy living yours.