Modern Day Statistics

Bianca Joseph

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  • Car emissions kill 30,000 people each year in the U.S. (1998)
  • In May 2000, Austin Energy planned to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 40% at its Decker and Holly power plants, from 1700 tons per year to less than 1000tpy by 2003. By comparison, NOx emissions in Travis county from motor vehicles totaled approximately 30,000 tons per year in 1996.
  • SUV's put out 43% more global-warming pollutants (28 pounds of carbon dioxide per gallon of gas consumed) and 47% more air pollution than the average car. (2002)
  • CO2 emissions from U.S. cars & trucks totaled 314 million metric tons. That's as much as would be released from burning all the coal in a train 50,000 miles long, enough to circle around the world, twice. (2006)


  • Bikes are 2/3 more efficient than cars even after factoring in the energy to produce the extra food the cyclist requires.
  • If we spent our gas money (at $3.72/gallon) on food to fuel our biking, that $3.72 would take us 26 miles on beef, 48 miles on potatoeos, 106 miles on beans, and 109 miles on rice.
  • Using a bicycle to commute four days a week for four miles (one-way) saves 54 gallons of gas annually.
  • The energy and resources needed to build one medium-sized car could produce 100 bicycles.
  • The U.S. uses about half of the world's gasoline.
  • Switching from an average new car to a 13 mpg SUV for a year would waste more energy than leaving a refrigerator door open for six years, a bathroom light burning for 30 years, or a color TV turned on for 28 years.
  • Improving the average fuel efficiency of vehicles in the United States by 2.7 miles per gallon would equal all U.S. oil imports from the Persian Gulf, according to conservation advocate Amory Lovins.


  • $50 billion of the US defense budget (2002) used to defend oil fields and shipping lanes from the Middle East, Nigeria, and Venezuela. (None of this bill is paid for through road use fees such as tolls or gasoline surcharges, or by the companies that most directly benefit, but instead comes from general funds like income and payroll taxes.)
  • Health costs of air pollution estimated at a minimum of $10 billion a year, much of which comes from cars, trucks, and SUVs
  • Economic losses of $100 billion annually from traffic congestion
  • If we were to take annual car costs of $7,754 minus annual bike costs of $220 and investing that every year from age 25 to 67 at 8%, many people would wind up with $2.3 million.
  • The estimated annual external cost of driving (including air pollution, climate change, imported oil security, congestion, accidents, noise, etc.) is $126.3 billion.


  • Texas fully congested. About a quarter of the Texas interstate system in metropolitan and urban areas is at 95 percent capacity, and an additional 40 percent has reached 80 percent capacity.
  • It costs about $50 to build and maintain one space in a bike rack and $500 for a bike locker, yet one car parking space in a parking structure costs about $8,500.
  • Traffic in Texas is expected to increase 50 percent in the next 18 years.
  • Traffic congestion wastes three billion gallons of gas a year. (There is no real way to save that energy by reducing congestion, because whenever new roadways are built new drivers simply fill them up again.)
  • Seven to twelve bicycles can park in one automobile parking space.
  • The easy availability of bike parking makes it twice as likely that people will bike to work.
  • Thirty percent of morning traffic is caused by parents dropping their kids off at school.
  • Urban rush-hour drivers were stuck in traffic for an average of 46 hours in 2002, nearly triple the time in 1982, according to a study conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute.


  • Biking accounts for 0.2% of all road miles traveled, and 1% of all trips in the U.S.
  • The number of trips taken on foot has dropped 42% in the last 20 years.
  • 41.4 million Americans rode a bike six times or more. (2002)
  • More bikes than cars are sold in the U.S. (2.55 million vs. 2.4 million). They're just not used as much as cars.
  • 90% of children who lived within a mile of their school walked or biked to school in the 1960's. Only 31% do so today.
  • Highway miles traveled by auto in the U.S. is 2.9 trillion miles a year. Bicycle miles traveled is 6 to 21 billion.
  • The biggest pickups, which were just 8.6 percent of the nation's new vehicles in 1990, now account for 13.2 percent, about one in every eight vehicles sold.
  • The availability of showers at work makes it five times more likely that people will bike to work.


  • From the Eugene/Springfield (OR) Bicycle Map (1998?), which further credits the American Lung Association, Oregon Traffic Commission, Association of Commuter Transportation, American Automobile Association, and City of Eugene.
  • "Airbus Industries is Considering a Very Big Bet", New York Times, July 14, 2000, C1.
  • World Resources Institute. 1998-99 World Resources: A Guide to the Global Environment. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998
  • 30 Simple Energy Things You Can Do to Save the Earth. Los Angeles: South California Edison, 1990, p. 11.
  • Traffix brochure, Texas Department of Transportation, 2001.
  • Transportation Commissioner Robert Nichols, quoted in "Rally to save the rails tries to gain steam at Capitol", Dallas Morning News, May 6, 2001