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Electric Biking Is More Efficient Than Walking Biking And Driving

Views: 136     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-12-08      Origin: Site


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Our electric bikes sustainable, what about the battery and how about  their carbon footprint. If I told you that electric bikes actually have a lower carbon footprint than regular bicycles or even walking, you probably think I'm crazy. But I'm going to explain that and a variety of other things in this article and I hope that you find it to be useful.

Different types of sustainability

Now when most people think about sustainability they probably think about the environmental sustainability, like  what is my impact on the environment, what is my carbon footprint, how am I impacting this world. But there's also the economic and social impact. In this article we're primarily going to focus on the environmental side, but we will talk about some of those other aspects as well.

Now when talking about the environmental impacts of electric bikes, you could generally break those aspects into two different groups. First the usage of the electric bike, like how sustainable is the usage of an electric bike whether it be for commuting or Recreation, or whatnot. And the other side would be the manufacturing like how sustainable is that, what's the carbon footprint of that, what are the resources required to do that effectively etc. 

Sustainability of different types of transportation

I think most people would probably have a misconception about how sustainable electric bikes are when it comes to Transportation. Trains are one of the most efficient forms of transportation getting somewhere around 800 to a thousand miles per gallon if they're full. As kind of a benchmark to try and get other forms of transportation to be closer to that, a variety of different things now a basic Honda Civic is about 40 miles per gallon, a pickup truck is 20 miles per gallon, a Prius hybrid is about 50 miles per gallon. Also an electric car, it's only about a hundred miles per gallon if you factor in what it actually takes to produce that energy.

But this is where it gets really interesting because when starts getting into talking about how our energy as humans is produced. Now if you think about it we are kind of an engine ourselves of sorts right we take in materials and we produce energy with that. Pedestrians get about 55 miles per gallon if you consume a diet as most Americans generally do. That can improve if you eat local food, because that food's not dependent on the fuel that the  transportation uses to get it to your plate if you will. This measure seems a bit weird probably to most people, but if you think about it, it kind of makes sense. Then talking about traditional bicycles, and someone once said that if you wanted to make a human more efficient, put them on a bicycle. Because they go from 55 miles per gallon up to 270, and even more if they eat local food. If you're not surprised enough already it gets even more interesting when talking about electric cargo bikes and how they get 480 miles per gallon, and commuter electric bikes get 570 miles per gallon. But if you charge an electric bike with solar power and you eat local food the efficiency goes up to over 1300 miles per gallon, and that point you're actually more efficient than a train.

I'm sure some people might be troubled with these ideas and be interested to know in the comments what you guys think about this. Also about the efficiency of humans, we're only about 25 percent efficient whereas an electric bike motor is over 80 percent efficient.


Looking at carbon emissions of different transportation

This is one way to look at sustainability is just the consumption of energy and how that works and miles per gallon.  I think a lot of people are familiar with that, there's a common scale that we can use in relation to that. now if we're looking at the overall picture we can't just talk about efficiency, although I think this is a big factor, we should also talk about the carbon emissions. According to the Federal Environmental agency a car emits about 240 grams of CO2 per passenger mile. Public transportation emits about 80 to 176 grams of CO2 per passenger Mile. And in contrast an electric bike generally emits somewhere between 3.2 to 8 grams of CO2 per passenger mile. A few more things I found to be interesting during our research one is about charging. Most electric bikes cost about a penny per mile to charge.

Now I'm probably like a lot of people that can get a bit overwhelmed in talking about all these numbers and that sort of thing. So I think it might make sense to break it down in perhaps a simpler format, it's really about moving Mass you compare a electric car that weighs several thousand Pounds into an electric bike that weighs somewhere between 30 and 100 pounds. It's obviously going to take a lot more energy to move that. But a big topic around sustainability is really about consumption and one of the ways we as Americans consume the most is in our transportation. For one we're very dependent on the automobile, and many places don't really have many options outside of that. Naturally we're using very large vehicle which is getting bigger and bigger, it's not really the most efficient use of resources if you will.

Manufacturing of electric bicycles

What about manufacturing, because surely there's a lot of carbon in the manufacturing and what about the resources associated with that and what about Lithium-ion batteries. People for bikes had an interesting statistic on this, it takes about 508 miles to offset the carbon footprint associated with manufacturing an electric bike. Now for some people, if you're riding 10 miles a week that'll do it in about a year, I know some people that ride 20 plus miles in a day that means that they'd offset their carbon footprint or the manufacturing of their bike probably in their first month. But I don't want to sugarcoat this, the reality is that there are some challenging aspects to manufacturing electric bikes and one of the most notable ones is the mining of lithium for Batteries.

Mining of lithium for batteries

Now although we might see some future technologies that don't require this natural resource, the reality is today we do. If we're gonna use this, we should try to use it in the most efficient way possible, and that's generally speaking going to be an electric bike especially when you consider the that in contrast to an electric vehicle, electric car that can use 20 30 times as much electric power that electric bike will require. And I don't want to get too deep into this topic but just to give some context for those of you that don't know. Most lithium comes from a small amount of mine throughout the world, and many of those places are in remote area that are largely inhabited by indigenous people, and the mining can be very destructive to their environment. I do believe there are companies that are trying to source this material more sustainably, and you know again this kind of gets more into the social aspect of it. But this is a really big deal and something I don't think should be undermined here. But really the hope is that we eventually get to a place where where our batteries don't require this, there seems to be a lot of Technology there, but really it takes a long time to implement these new technologies, especially in the battery space. So I think our best hope in the short term is that we try to access this material in the most careful way that we can. And I think we should really be more focused on how efficient we use this.

Recycling of lithium batteries

Another really important topic in relation to lithium batteries is recycling. Historically we didn't really have too many systems around this but now we do. If we can actually transition in a direction that we're using less resource, using more human scale transportation, building our cities in more human scale ways. Then perhaps we can get to a place where we don't need to continue to increase the demand for lithium.

Manufacturing sustainability

The other side of manufacturing is really about like where things are manufactured, how they are being transported that can get pretty deep, so I don't want to go too far into that. I will say that the bike industry overall has really been proving pretty dramatically in relation to this. Bosch they are carbon neutral they're actually one of the largest companies of their size to be carbon neutral which is pretty cool they have a lot of details about that on their sites another company is Reese and Mueller, they actually have a sustainability goal of being the most sustainable e-bike company in the industry by 2025. So from their side I think they're looking at it as like an opportunity to set certain standards, going to the suppliers from everything about, how Humane are the working conditions, what type of paint are they using all these different things. And I think that's  a really big deal, and that that is going to happen more and more, that's likely going to become a requirement more and more as governments have certain initiatives around lowering their emissions. So lowering their dependence on outside resources. 

electric bicycle

Why the Netherlands became a biking country

And for those who don't know this is part of why the Netherlands actually became the biking place, that it's known of today. Back in the 70s the car was becoming very popular in the Netherlands as it was throughout the rest of the world. But what they recognize is that their increased Demand on oil was a real really big issue, especially during this gas and oil crisis of that time. They made a decision to really try and pivot towards the bicycle, and as a result they become a much more sustainable place, not in just the environmental aspect, but also socially and economically. This is a really big deal and something that shouldn't really be undermined.

That's kind of talking about the social sustainability aspect a little bit more, just about how we impact our society, how we impact others, you can get into different aspects of that how sustainable are electric bikes on the social thing in a community-wide. It creates a sense of community the way that we're connected as a result of using more human scale Transportation. I think there's a lot of great things there, because if you think about it we've kind of moved in this direction with all this sprawl and really only knowing Transportation behind the steering wheel in a car, it limits some of the social interaction which it used to be very commonplace in our communities.

Economic sustainability of electric bicycles

What about the economic sustainability. One of the things to note is the contrasting forms of transportation, another is that most places could fair to have more options as far as public transportation that sort of thing, especially in the U.S. There's a recent Forbes article that it costs about seven thousand dollars on average to own an automobile in the U.S. Over ten thousand dollars if it's a more premium vehicle and I can see that number go up and up from there. From those numbers an electric bike considering it only cost a penny per mile to charge it, for most people they'll pay back their investment of electric bike even if you buy an expensive one in less than a year.

There's a lot of interesting statistics on this a lot of interesting information, I think people will start to talk more on this topic but there's that side of it right just cost of ownership. I think sometimes you do have to consider when talking about the sustainability is how durable is this product, how repairable is it. These are really big factors that we consider when offering bikes in our shop. Can we replace these parts how much into the future, can we get replace basement parts we really try to make sure to work with manufacturers, that we know are going to look to support their products long term and then something we're starting to see sprout up more is the used market. We're actually bikes are becoming available as like pre-owned and used, and that also helps with the sustainability, so the electric bike doesn't end up in just a landfill if you will.

Supporting bicycle infrastructure

Outside of that on the economic front I guess it's kind of the both social and economic front is like. What does it cost Society to support the infrastructure for electric bikes. For one I will say that building bike Lanes cost a lot less than building traditional roadways, when you have to build something for lighter vehicles with less space, naturally it's going to cost less than building infrastructure for larger vehicles that weigh more and take up more space. And I think that's something that cities don't always consider, but they're starting to think more about it as they've started to experiment with these things. But that's one of the bigger challenges that the industry has faced here is lack of infrastructure, I think for a lot of cities they battle with this idea like is this concept if you build it they will come does this really work. I believe it does, it's been proven time and time again that it is. The contrary is also true if you don't build it they will not come. 

Think about that so much more to talk about here, I'm sure I missed some things if there's something else you know, please add in the comments something you're thinking about a question that you have, thank you.

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