Why bother to check the math on an exciting and counterintuitive message? “Bicycles less efficient than SUVs!” Or, why you should never blindly trust a column by John Tierney of the NYTimes, and Someone is Wrong on the Internet!

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E Bikes in China

January 3, 2011

Was reading the put-charts-in-comments post at the oil drum.

Saw this comment:

Which included a link to this photo (and comments, GO READ, click photo for link): Photo by Steve Jurvetson, some rights reserved.

Update, for 2010, Jurvetson comment on his photo: “update from Weinert: E2W sales in China in 2010 were 28 million, bringing the installed base over 150 million.”
28 million, that’s growth.

Which in turn included a link to this presentation (pdf): http://www.jonathanweinert.com/presentations/E2W-CAFCP.pdf

Very, very interesting. Not too surprising to someone who rides a cargo bike, and thinks about electric assist from time to time. If I were running China, I would approve of this development.

See also so-when-we-run-out-of-oil-how-will-we-get-around (proof that I’ve been thinking about this)

Note that exclusive use of electric power is far less safe (higher mortality rate) than pedaling, because we need the exercise.

This presentation (Jurvetson presentation, linked from comments on picture below, requires Flash) starting at slide 16, also has some interesting numbers on e-bikes.

See also: Photo by Steve Jurvetson, some rights reserved.

I found this article a few weeks ago that quantified the risk of physical inactivity (specifically, not biking to work), at a 39% higher mortality rate.

I think that means that if the baseline mortality rate is 750 deaths per 100,000 (that’s about the US mortality rate), then 40% higher would be 300 more deaths, or 1050 per 100,000.
Except, since the norm in the US is non-cycling and mostly inactive, the difference is 214 deaths, from a hypothetically exercising baseline of 536.

Is this a big difference? Probably. We regard working in the fishing and timber industries as being very dangerous (pdf, p. 4), but their additional risks are 200 and 62 deaths per 100,000 per year, respectively.

Seems to me that I ought to be owed a reduction in my life insurance premiums, as long as I keep biking to work.