Transportation is the biggest single contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the US, and as a country we are the second-largest contributor to climate change. One solution to reduce climate change and its effects is through changes to the way we get around—reducing our burning of fossil fuels through the use of electric vehicles (EV). Most of the buzz around EVs are around electric cars, but there is another EV option--electric bikes or ebikes. These promise to have an even greater positive impact on the environment.
Here are 10 reasons we should embrace ebikes for the benefit of the environment:
1. Ebikes prevent air pollution
Air pollution comes from energy use and production generated by cars and trucks and other industrial processes. The two most prevalent types of air pollution are smog and soot. Smog occurs when emissions from fossil fuels react with sunlight. Soot is made up of tiny particles of chemicals, soil, dust or allergens carried in the air. Both forms of air pollution have dangerous long term health effects including heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases such as emphysema. Air pollution can also cause long-term damage to people's nerves, brain, kidneys, liver, and other organs.
Air pollution also has a negative impact on the earth. By trapping the earth’s heat in the atmosphere, greenhouse gases lead to warmer temperatures, which leads to rising sea levels, extreme weather, heat-related deaths, and the increased transmission of infectious diseases. It also exacerbates mold and allergens from trees, weeds, and grass and these, while less directly connected to the action of humans, can be hazardous to health.
While there are multiple sources of air pollution, such as power generation, agriculture/waste incineration, industry and building heating systems, methane from landfills, cars are a major factor. When a trip is made on an ebike rather than a car it prevents air pollution being introduced into the air.
2. Have zero emissions
An ebike is a bicycle that includes a motor, battery, and display; a bicycle with a boost. Today, the boost is provided mostly by a lithium-ion battery that results in zero emissions. Ebikes move on clean energy. Riding an ebike is a zero-emissions form of transportation because it does not emit any smoke or burn fuel. Riding an ebike saves 150 grams of carbon dioxide per 0.6 miles traveled when compared to driving a car.
3. Are energy efficient
There is some energy consumption during the process of manufacturing of an ebike but it is significantly smaller compared to the manufacture of cars. It takes about 10 times more energy to manufacture a car versus an ebike. In addition, the energy needed to build cycling infrastructure is less than that of roads for cars. Bike lanes require smaller space and require less foundation and other construction materials and require less energy for maintenance. As more people embrace ebikes for transportation, there will be less need for car parking lots and roads and less infrastructure devoted to cars all around will conserve energy. This allows dedicating more public space for people.
There is some energy consumption from the electric grid (standard power outlet) needed to charge the battery, but this is small in comparison to the energy that is generated by a gas or diesel engine that releases carbon emissions into the air. It costs 5-8 cents of electricity to charge an ebike battery for a ride of 20-60 miles. If there is an option to get electricity from solar or wind this also helps the environment further.
By definition, an ebike has pedals and even if it has a throttle for propulsion without active pedaling. Ebikes require human power to move. Active transportation is the ultimate efficient form of transportation.
4. Ebikes will make a difference faster than electric cars
The air pollution reduction from replacing gasoline burning cars with those powered by electricity will be difficult to achieve in five years—the time we need to significantly reduce our production of green house gases before the negative effects becomes irreversible. Swapping cars, whether gasoline burning or electric, with riding ebikes is a quicker solution to lowering carbon emissions.
5. Allow for off-peak charging
The battery in an ebike needs to be charged by plugging the power cord from the connector in the battery into a standard wall outlet which operates off the power grid. This can be done later in the day when the high electricity demand is reduced thus metering out usage and reducing the risk of blackouts. Not only will off peak charging help the environment, the ebike user will benefit from a lower energy rate.
6. Have a long-lasting battery
How far you can travel on a single fully charged ebike battery depends on several factors such as temperature, rider weight, tire pressure, wind, and how much assistance you use. When it runs low you will need to plug it in to charge it. A typical ebike battery will last about 500 charging cycles. That means if you charge the battery once a week, it will last about 9 years. When it is time to replace the battery, it can be recycled.
7. Contributes to the longevity of roads
Although an ebike is heavier than a non-assisted bike, it still only weighs 50-80 lbs or less, much lighter than a car, which weighs about 2000 lbs. A lighter vehicle will do less damage to roads requiring less repairs. Less repair cycles are a benefit to the environment because it reduces the need to engage heavy machines that have a high emissions that add to the pollution and further damage to the environment. Replacing car trips with ebike trips on city streets will enable the infrastructure to last longer between repairs.
8. Results in less noise
Noise pollution is another type of environmental pollution. A city with less machine noise from the rumblings of cars offers a better outdoor experience. There is also evidence of long-term health risks such as heart disease in people living in areas with high vehicle noise compared to quieter areas. An ebike, while not entirely silent, makes considerably less noise than a car.
9. Reduces congestion
An ebike has a small foot print, takes up less space on the road and can zip through traffic. When cars are stuck in traffic the engines idle burning gas and emitting pollutants. Less idling results in less pollution which is better for the environment.
10. Bicycle brands are taking action
Some companies that manufacture bikes and ebikes have policies to work towards doing no harm to the environment and are working to offset the carbon they produce when making products. Reid Bikes, for example, has made an environmental pledge to plant a tree for every bike they sell, an action to mitigate the effect of forests worldwide being chopped down or burned for economic reasons. The result is more “green” on the planet.
Climate change is a serious problem today and we can all do our part. When we travel on an environmentally friendly ebike we reduce our carbon footprint and have fun at the same time. Save the planet and ride an ebike!
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