Cars vs motorcycles: Which is nicer to the environment?

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Oct 4, 2011

TopGear.com.ph Philippine Car News - Mythbusters prove motorcycles are less environment-friendly than cars

Besides the ever worsening traffic, many people cite the rising cost of fuel as their primary reason for switching from driving cars to riding motorcycles. While the move may be friendlier to the pocket, it apparently does more harm to the environment.

Popular science and entertainment TV program MythBusters recently showed an episode it called  "the ultimate eco-challenge." Using the best-selling cars and motorcycles in the past three decades and a portable emissions-measuring system, MythBusters hosts Adam Savage and Jaime Hyneman drove the vehicles for 32 kilometers over 30 minutes through both highway and city streets.

So, what did they find out?

Unsurprisingly, motorcycles are more fuel efficient than cars and produce as much as 43 percent less carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas  that reportedly makes up 90 percent of the emissions of an internal combustion engine.

While that bodes well for motorcycles, the MythBusters did discover that these two-wheeled vehicles produce a whole lot more noxious gases like hydrocarbons (that can cause cancer, emphysema, etc.), nitrogen oxides (that can cause various lung ailments and acid rain) and carbon monoxide (that is an odorless, poisonous gas) than their four-wheeled counterparts.

It's so bad that motorcycles were found to produce over 700 percent more hydrocarbon, over 3,000 percent more nitrogen oxides and over 8,000 percent more carbon monoxide than cars. So according to the MythBusters, while motorcycles are more fuel efficient and produce less carbon dioxide than cars, "the amount of polluting gases they put out was vastly worse."

"At best, it's a wash. Motorcycles are just as bad for the environment as cars. At worst, they're far worse,” Savage concluded.

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