Earth-Friendly Bikes: A New Cycle for A New Era
Join a global revolution that’s reducing environmental impact, urban congestion and carbon emissions, and promoting health, sustainability, and resource & energy conservation. Electric bikes, known as “pedelecs” in Europe and Asia, are an example of the light electric vehicles (LEVs) that are receiving increased attention and use all over the world. LEVs include battery, fuel-cell, or hybrid-powered two-or-three-wheel vehicles that weigh less than 200 pounds. Electric bicycles are the most common LEVs, and their popularity is growing with developments in electric technology.
Green Batteries: Rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries are recyclable at most local recycling collection stations. In addition, the Lithium-ion batteries are more efficient and lighter weight, and cheaper, than their lead-acid precursor, the NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride).
Saving Money, The Earth and Its Resources
Electric bikes are available at a minimal cost to the owner relative to the costs associated with purchasing, using, and maintaining a gas-powered car. The cost to “the commons” in the form of pollution, paved surfaces, and resource-depletion is perhaps more significant. Four to six bicycles use the same space required by a single car. Some time ago there was an estimate that well over 40% of Los Angeles’ land area was given over to the automobile. In Europe alone about 250 million car tires are discarded annually. Conventional cars are the single largest contributor to atmospheric pollution. The ecological footprint of a car is 10 times greater than a bike—electric or conventional. Imagine the amount of land needed to produce all the resources required to make a product—all the land in one place is the size of the eco-footprint.
The bicycle has always been a most efficient means of transporting oneself. In comparing energy used per passenger-mile (calories), a conventional bicycle needed only 35 calories, whereas a car expended a whopping 1,860. Bus and trains fell about midway between, and walking still took 3 times as many calories as riding a bike the same distance. “[A person] on a bicycle can go three or four times faster than the pedestrian, but uses five times less energy in the process… [and] outstrips the efficiency of not only all machines but all other animals as well.” (Ivan Illich)
The world has maybe 4 times as many bicycles as cars, (some estimates as high as 2 billion!) with 1 billion persons being classified as utilitarian cyclists. In developing countries bicycles transport vast amounts of people and goods at minimal cost to personal incomes and to the environment. Humankind has yet to invent a means of transport that is more efficient, earth and people friendly, or emission-free.
(Facts and figures on this page from the WorldWatch Institute.)