2.1 pounds of CO2 per mile

0.18 pounds of CO2 per mile

0.12 pounds of CO2 per mile


- Driving a gasoline powered car produces about 1 pound of carbon dioxide (CO2) per mile. (source)
- Manufacturing a car also produces CO2. Over the lifetime of the average car, the manufacturing "cost" is about 1.1 pounds of CO2 per mile. (source)
- Added together, this means that driving a car emits about 2.1 pounds of CO2 per mile.
- This also means that driving electric cars won’t save us. Without any fossil fuel consumption, a car still "emits" 1.1 pounds of CO2 per mile because of the pollution created through manufacturing.
- Riding a bicycle also uses fuel. Riding a bike burns calories. The more you exercise, the more you have to eat and food production has a CO2 impact.
- The average rider produces 0.06 pounds of CO2 emissions per mile by way of consuming more food. This number goes up if that extra food is meat. It goes down if that extra food is kale. (source)
- The CO2 "costs" of manufacturing a new bicycle are also about 0.06 pounds per mile. (source)
- So riding a bike produces about 0.12 pounds of CO2 per mile, about 5% of a car's 2.1 pounds.
- Walking burns almost 3 times as many calories per mile as bike riding. (source)
- With no manufacturing "costs" walking produces about 0.18 pounds of CO2 per mile. It takes more calories to walk a mile than to bike a mile. (The manufacturing cost of shoes was not factored into these numbers.)

Please note: not all sources come up with exactly the same numbers, so we have tried to be conservative when choosing data points. Also we have made some minor tweaks when appropriate based on our own experience and our knowledge of our customers at Recovery Bike Shop. Having said that, almost all of the research agrees: driving a low occupancy vehicle produces several times the carbon dioxide pollution of riding a bike.

It is worth noting the biggest exception we found. One study revealed that "fully 75 percent of a car's lifetime carbon emissions stem from the fuel it burns, not its production. A further 19 percent of that is production and transportation of the fuel, leaving just six percent for the car's manufacture." (source)

Most of our research did not agree with this data point, however, if this is correct, driving an electric car would result in a dramatic reduction in CO2 emissions.

The next closest source said this: "The manufacturing of a car accounts for about 30% of its carbon footprint over its lifespan." (source)