I finally met my INTERNET CHAT FRIEND!! Kit Kohler from Zero Per Gallon today, however briefly, as he clandestinely handed me a package from an arriving Caltrain in Redwood City, I handed him some crisp US currency, shook his hand, and rode off on my bike. As I rode towards San Carlos my cellphone buzzed, checking it confirmed that Kit had thrown in a little "extra" in today's shipment.
Anyway, I am now sporting one of these...
Now, is that a good deal? I do live in California, which we all know is the "land of the epic burrito" so we aren't talking about no Taco Bell Burrito. At a decent SF Taqueria - or pretty much any Mountain View Taqueria - you can probably land a solid Super Burrito for about the same as 2 gallons of gas. When I suffer the indignity of being ducked low in the passenger seat of my wife's Honda Pilot, 2 gallons of gas will probably get us under 25 miles. Granted, from a person miles standpoint, it's probably pretty close to 60-70 person miles per the price of a burrito, depending on how much you count Liam and the dog. But as I cycle down the wonder that is the "Bike Path between the 101 and the San Carlos Airport", I'm not seeing too many people in their cars multiplying their miles by anything.
Of course, many of them are noodling along in the carpool lane. Not because they are carpooling, mind you, but because they are greenwashing themselves in a Honda Prius. A Prius probably outranks the bike in Miles Per Burrito Dollar. Since I would hate for the bike to lose the analysis, we of course must look deeper into the equation.
The added costs for the car - insurance, maintainance, easily tip the Burrito Equation in favor of the bike. Then you can look at the social equation - when you buy 2 gallons of gasoline, a tiny amount of margin goes to the local gas station, a big chunk goes to Chevron/Shell/whomever, and a big chunk goes to various hostile nations, then we spend billions of dollars to defend ourselves from. Another chunk goes to taxes, which pay for a fraction of the roads we freeloading cyclists ride on.
Of course, a burrito comes with sales taxes, which pay for another fraction of that road. And the margin on a burrito is much higher than on gasoline - that margin then becomes profit for the owner and wages for the workers, all of which are taxable and turn into another fraction of that road I am freeloading on. Beyond the margin for the taqueria, money is made by people who grow and sell food, which is ostensibly a nobler pursuit than drilling, baby, drilling.
But the real bottom line?
It's not really 53 miles per burrito. It's one burrito per 53 miles. If you are sitting in your car, you will be shortly sitting on that burrito as it becomes a permanent part of your ass. I meanwhile will be adding extra guacamole because after I rode 53 miles to work, I ride 7 miles back to Caltrain on the way home. Yum.