Are bicyclists bad for the environment?

I rode my bike in to work today. And for the rest of the day, I noted with satisfaction that riding took only 10 minutes longer than my regular commute by car.

Then I learned that Wharton Business School professor Karl Ulrich has written a working paper called: “The Environmental Paradox of Cycling“. In which the good professor claims that I am actually harming the environment. By … living … healthier.

Andrew Leonard at Salon deconstructs the argument- Bikers, they ain’t no good:

Here’s the gist. Bicycling and other means of human-powered transportation consume less energy than driving, which is good for the environment. But all that healthy exercise makes cyclists live longer, which means they end up ultimately consuming more energy than they would have had they not biked. Which is bad for the environment.

But hold on there for just a second. There are holes in this argument that you can drive a biodiesel-powered Hummer through. First and foremost: Isn’t it likely that biking is a kind of gateway drug for enlightened resource consumption? I see it happen here in Berkeley all the time. First you start biking around town, then you put solar panels on your roof and start worm composting your newspapers. Suddenly, you find yourself raising organic free-range chickens in your backyard and hosting weekly meetings of your local Peak Oil Awareness encounter group.

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