Apparently the average modern car manages just under 38mpg (miles per gallon). Not bad, and nearly twice what gas-guzzling cars were doing 40 years ago, pre oil worries...
Meanwhile, a Toyota Prius ekes out 65mpg and VW has announced plans for a car that will break the 100mpg barrier by 2020.
Factoring in passengers (but ignoring additional weight), that would mean an approximate per-passenger-mpg of 400.
But a mode of transport has existed since the late 19th Century that can propel a passenger over considerable distances at an incredibly frugal 900mpg: the bicycle...
|38 mpg vs 900 mpg|
Petrol contains approximately 31,000 kcal (Calories) per gallon. Of course humans can't consume petrol, but based on the equivalent Calories, here are a few interesting comparisons:
Walking - 360 mpg
Running - 300 mpg
Bus - 330 mpg per passenger*
Passenger aircraft - 49 mpg per passenger*
QE2 - 16.7 mpg per passenger*
* all figures are approximate and assume full occupancy of the vehicle, which is rarely the case - a detailed study of a Californian commuter bus route found that on average only 9 of the 55 seats were taken, one-in-six, which dramatically reduces the per passenger-mpg.
Compared to that, cycling is amazingly efficient!
And when you consider that the average speed of traffic in central London is 10 mph - the same it was over a century ago - that makes cycling a seriously economical and practical alternative to road transport.
So that's one fewer reason not to cycle...