Friday, October 26, 2007

Air Pollution - Car vs. Motorcycle vs. Scooter

One gallon of gas burned puts 5lbs of carbon into the earth's atmosphere. I'm going to do some quick math here. My Harley gets about 40mpg. A scooter, say a Yamaha Vino 125 at least doubles that at about 80+mpg.

I commute to work on my Harley around a total of 10 miles per day. That means my motorcycle is spewing into the atmosphere about 5lbs of carbon in one of my 4 day work weeks. (I actually work 5 days a week but hey, I'm trying to keep the math simple here!)

Suppose I commute to work 36 weeks per year. That means my bike is putting 180lbs of carbon into the air in a year, as compared to half that, 90lbs if I were riding the scooter.

Quick Carbon Comparison - My Commute - Car vs. Motorcycle vs. Scooter

Car at 20mpg = 360lbs of carbon into the atmosphere per year @ 72 gallons.
Motorcycle at 40mpg = 180lbs of carbon into the atmosphere per year @ 36 gallons.
Scooter at 80mpg = 90lbs of carbon into the atmosphere per year @ 18 gallons.

Car vs. Scooter = My car would burn 54 more gallons and add 270lbs more carbon into the atmosphere than a scooter would in one year of my commute. Project those figures ten years out, the car would burn 540 more gallons of gas and put 2,700lbs more carbon into the atmosphere than the scooter would.

As you can see, seemingly small differences really make a big difference. In a way, high gas prices may be a blessing in disguise. If a lot of folks drove even a little less because of the cost of gas or switched to a vehicle that is more efficient, it would keep countless tons of carbon out of the earth's atmosphere.
N.(Kano)Miles, Motorcycle and Scooter talk at Kano's Coffee House

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Bill Sommers said...

I'll be passing this post on for sure. We've got a "green" minded character at work that will find this info interesting.

It makes so much more sense for me to keep riding the scooter with this kind of information to back me up too. Thanks!

Have fun,

Kano said...

Bill, thanks for passing it on! You scooter guys over in Port Angeles are the Bomb!

Anonymous said...

"One gallon of gas burned puts 5lbs of carbon into the earth's atmosphere"
Actually this statement is...very wrong and definitely not enough.

First keep in mind that I am a biker and I also own a scooter. I am really not a car person!

1) Why the statement is wrong. Cars , scooters and motorcycle do not "burn" gas the same way. Car combustion is more complete than a scooter so "One gallon of gas burned puts 5lbs of carbon" might be true for car but certainly not for a motorcycle and especially not for a scooter! (scooter throw about 16* more hydrocarbons in the atmosphere than a car does. Keep in mind that on motorcycle there is only 1 catalytic pass and gases cannot "cool down" due to the exhaust shortness).
2) it's not all about Co2. motorcycle and scooter throw CO (carbon monoxide). CO is lethal. Car reject only very very very (I insist) few CO.

ok...we eat less gas on a scooter...but let's see the emission because all those vehicles do not all release 5lbs of carbon for "One gallon of gas burned"!

WRGII said...

I read a great article about this topic called "Scooter Polluter" found here:

It laid out a number of the issues like smog pollution vs. gas consumption and that there are non-EPA certified scooters in the US, so watch out!

In Shanghai, when I was there in January, I was told they had outlawed new scooters and folks could only buy electric bicycles. Too bad they forgot that they have to burn coal to generate that electricity.

Anonymous said...

A) if you ride a harley, you are annoying every single person you pass. except deaf people. B) it's not about miles per gallon. One mile on a scooter or Harley and you will pollute many more times than one mile in ANY car. Except one burning oil on the way to the junkyard. Check out the EPA, Susan Carpenter (motorcycle reviewer for the LAtimes) and numerous others.

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