Before I get into some new data on the earth benefits of ebiking, go watch this video by bicycle2work (via ATIVsolutions).
Now, the good news is we finally have the kind of detailed energy efficiency data we need to make smart decisions about our vehicles. A new journal features "The Energetic Performance of Vehicles" in its inaugural issue (via Open-Energy-and-Fuels).
Author J.L. Radtke has done us a huge favor by calculating the 'energetic efficiency' of many different modes of transport.
I’m delighted to report that an ebike beats yer garden variety car by about 28-to-1 on both fuel economy and emissions.
For technoids, the forumula is payload mass times distance moved divided by thermal energy used...all multiplied by average speed to yield an energetic performance parameter expressed in seconds.
Radtke shows how vehicles as they are most commonly used compare in terms of speed, efficiency, GHG emissions, payload mass and energetic performance.
Not surprisignly, "vehicles with the highest level of energetic performance have efficient powerplants, high payload to gross mass ratios, or reduced friction with the surrounding environment."
Bottom line: my ebike gets the equivalent of 716 mpg and 7.51 'emmissive efficiency' (or EE, measured as kilogram-kilometers per gram of CO2 equivalents), versus 25 mpg and 0.26 EE for a Honda Civic (non-hybrid).
BTW, a Prius gets 48 mpg and 0.51 EE, while an SUV (Escalade) gets 12 mpg and 0.12 EE.
Oh, and, walking works out to 413 mpg with 0.0 EE (unless ya fart as ya walk?!). But then, cycling (w/o an electric motor) takes one-third the energy of walking.
If ya watch the video (above), you'll get reasonable responses to all your likely objections to cycling as a car alternative.
Any questions? Good, then: get thee down to the ebike shop!