I did find a good article called "Bicycle Blueprint" that articulates the benefits of bicycles:
- does not operate on electricity or use a combustion engine, therefore it has a smaller (but not zero) carbon footprint, cyclists still have to eat!
- is quiet and does not contribute to city noise pollution
- fits neatly into the "door zone" of any street due to its small size, roadsharing is easy!
- offers mechanical advantage, shoppers can carry goods in a basket or bags, and the weight can be borne by the bike
- is "human-scale," not some giant metal box on wheels
The article also articulates the benefits of cycling:
- control over the schedule, no waiting for a bus or train, but there are still stoplights and stop-signs to obey
- offers some (but not too much) exercise
- allows the rider to be more interactive with the environment: smells, sounds, sights
Many experiments, albiet some non-scientific ones, have shown that cycling beats driving.
- Annual Great NYC Commuter Race bike wins over public transit and car
- Video here: https://vimeo.com/12469993
- BikeShare data in Lyon, France bike wins over car
- Los Angeles Carmageddon bike wins over plane and public transit
- Pro Cyclist vs Stunt Car Driver bike wins in Los Angeles
- Video here: https://youtu.be/Neljzmh30l4
- Des Moines, Iowa bike wins over bus and car
- Tucson, Arizona bike wins over car
- Savannah, Georgia bike wins over bus and car
- Vancouver, British Columbia bike wins over transit and cars
- Our humble experiment bike wins over car and walking in Glendale, CA
I really liked the calculation in "Bicycle Blueprint" that showed for an equivalent number of calories (or Joules of energy) a cyclist can travel 10 miles, a pedestrian 3.5 miles, and an automobile 100 feet. Even without a quantitative metric for psychic cost/benefit, that's pretty powerful math.