Tuesday, November 10, 2009

53 Miles Per Burrito. A good deal?

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.


Jym said...

=v= Burritos are my fuel of choice.

The folks in Prii aren't really doing much better. The higher initial cost is substantial, more not only because they're newer technology, but because they rely on rare earth minerals that are mined at significant financial and environmental cost. It's too soon to tell at this point, but I expect that the cost of maintaining older hybrids will suffer from the same costs.

Most of these rare earths are mined in China, and the price is about to go way up.

Reese said...

Wait... so did the bike win or not? I hope so.

Also... yay isn't Kit the greatest? He also gave me a ZPG shirt in a sorta sketchy Mountain View shirt exchange. (I stupidly bought the large before I realised that a medium would fit me better and Kit was willing to exchange it.)

kit said...

@murphs, Thank you for the kind words and thoughtful examination of my shirt. :)

You sort of alluded to this but I do feel it's important to mention that burritos also taste a heck of a lot better than refined fossil fuel. Going to the gas station is totally unsatisfying. Going to a taqueria is a mealtime fiesta. Especially if they have a juke box.

tyler said...

They have stickers, too. We posted one on our bike as a "Pic of the Day" on Bikerumor.com

Love your analysis of the burrito margins and such. Well done, sir, and I'm soooo jealous you got a shirt!

Ted said...

But wait ... what about the environmental impact of raising a cow or chicken? Or the pesticides used on the corn used to feed those animals? Or the gas used to transport the food around? Or the other evil deeds of the food corporations? AHHHHHHHH!!!!!

murphstahoe said...

Super Veggie Burrito filled with locally grown organic ingredients. Of course, while there is rice "locally grown" in California I'm of the opinion that's not really a good thing.

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