I am excited to be able to help people get by with their ebike journey. Here at ebikewizard.com, I share my expertise and over a decade of experience riding, testing, and troubleshooting ebikes of all kinds.
In this article, you will find how environmentally friendly are electric bikes with all the logical aspects and revolutions. Let’s dive in!
The natural environment. To begin with, the air we breathe and the water we drink are nature’s gifts to mankind. It is an indisputable fact that without an ample supply of natural air and water, it would become difficult, rather impossible for humans to continue their existence. A major chunk of the US economy is also de towards the U.S. Gross Development Product (GDP). Americans’ expenditures on food amounts to 13 percent of household budgets on average.
In the same year, 22.2 million full and part-time jobs were related to the agriculture and food sectors. It must be noted that agriculture as a sector, depends upon the environment in its entirety. Despite having a substantial amount of dependence, humans over the past many years have acted insensitively towards environmental interests. It is not just the case with the US but all over the world that personal interests and gains have outreached the interests of the environment and in a race to develop who we are, we seem to have forgotten where we come from.
Our thirst for urbanization has taken the best of our judgment. Urban settlements are outnumbering our trees as we speak. Each year, the United States population increases by over 1,700,000 people and, statistically speaking, each additional person requires an additional acre of land and highways. This rapid population growth has increased demand for urbanization, resulting in an alarming increase in deforestation as we seek additional land to build on.
Of course, using land to house an increasing number of people results in the loss of open space and farmland, increased overcrowding, and a significant loss of biodiversity and animal habitats throughout the country. The average carbon foot-print for a person in the US has been recorded more than ever, calculated at 16 tons, which is one of the highest in the world. The global average is close to 4 tons which is four times lower than what is recorded in the US. A carbon footprint in the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane).
What is significant to note is that the environment communicates its depletion to humans, not in words but through actions. Incidents like bush fire, dams collapse in Michigan, vegetation being left dry by climate change etc. are out loud statements and signs for humans to take immediate action. The recent coronavirus pandemic is another example and some parts of the world are still struggling to overcome the challenges caused by it.
Various Governmental and non-governmental authorities have been extremely vocal regarding the environmental concerns and have also implemented various policies in their endeavor to resolve them. The upcoming generations are also becoming environment conscious and are making sustainability a way of life. Various businesses around the idea of sustainability have emerged in the past few years and there are still a lot of upcoming ones on the way.
One such invention is the electric vehicles. Motor vehicle companies identified the emissions caused by the conventional vehicles and developed electric vehicles which are both, cost efficient and environment friendly. Similarly, the concept of electric bicycles or E-bikes came into picture. These bicycle like built and motor assisted inventions serve various purposes and have the potential to substantially reduce the carbon-footprint by reducing the emissions as opposed to how much is generated by conventional motor vehicles.
7 ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF AN E-BIKE
Regarding how environmentally friendly are electric bikes? Biking, in general, has been one of the most recommended ways to commute all over the world. Along with the rider’s health, it is also very beneficial for the environment due to its zero-emission model which leads to no air pollution or carbon dioxide, or methane emissions. Conventional bicycles are no doubt really helpful for the environment, but the motor-assisted battery-operated E-bikes are a different league altogether.
Although conventional cycles are a healthy alternative but have showcased various challenges such as long-distance travel limitations, physical inabilities, and difficulty in climbing hilly areas. E-bikes take into consideration all these challenges and resolve them to a very large extent and therefore are a good replacement for cars and other motor vehicles. With their recent popularity, a lot of people are wondering about the potential environmental benefits of these E-bikes. It is true that the E-bikes rely upon electricity to run therefore there remains no doubt in the fact that they are vastly more eco-friendly than many other modes of transportation. Since they don’t run on fossil fuels like petrol or diesel, it is more than fair to say that E-bikes are sustainable and very environmentally friendly.
1. No Air pollution
It is an estimate of the Environmental Protection Agency that an average consumer who commutes on gasoline based vehicles on the road, runs on a fuel economy of 22 miles per gallon (average), and commutes a distance of around 11,500 annually. Based on the aforesaid data, the agency concludes that for every gasoline burnt in the vehicular emissions, 8887 grams of carbon dioxide will be created. It is already established time and again in the past that the increased carbon dioxide cause global warming leading to climate change, and with the increasing population of the US, the number of vehicles and the carbon dioxide emissions are bound to increase. In such scenario, electric vehicles shall act as live savers.
E-bikes for example run on lithium-ion batteries. These are the same rechargeable batteries that are used in mobile phones as well as electric-cars. The three scientists, John B Goodenough (who is also the oldest Nobel laureate) along with fellow researchers M Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino were bestowed upon with the Nobel Prize in the year 2019 for the development of Lithium-Ion batteries.
Lithium-Ion batteries in vehicles account for zero-emission meaning that no amount of carbon dioxide is emitted in the environment. In addition to zero air pollution, E-bikes are estimated to prevent an additional 500 pounds of carbon emissions per year from being released in the environment. Essentially, the use of E-bikes not only brings down the Carbon dioxide emissions to zero but also reduces the existing carbon dioxide levels. This not only prevents global warming but also significantly reduces the contaminants in the air that cause smog and other pollutants to persist. These contaminants are also a huge problem in urban areas and have a direct effect on local ecosystems and a reduction is these elements can create a healthier atmosphere for people and animals.
2. Charge Plan
There are claims against the E-Bikes and electric vehicles in general that these vehicles utilize lots of electricity against the cost of saving environment by reducing emissions which is true to some extent. However, in all fairness the amount of electricity consumption for the backup E-bikes provide at the cost of zero emission released into the environment is beyond reasonable. In addition, the operators of E-bikes can put into use a charge plan wherein they charge their bikes in the off-peak hours.
When a device is charged, electricity is drawn from the power grid. The peak period for electricity consumption is typically during the day time. Because you’re unlikely to ride your E-bike very late at night (assumption based on the usage statistics for average people), charging the battery during off-peak hours is simple. For instance, you can connect your E-bike’s battery and charge it overnight. Off-peak charging comes with a slew of environmental advantages. It significantly reduces the strain on the power grid. Additionally, it utilizes excess energy generated by the electric company, lowering your overall energy consumption. This is not only beneficial to the environment but by reducing demand during peak hours, all of this contributes to reducing the risk of brownouts and blackouts.
One must take into consideration and note over a span of weeks’ time, the number of times they hop into their conventional motor vehicle and take round trips for a few miles and park back those vehicles into their garages. Based on a report issued by Bureau of Transportation, statistics suggest that up to 69 percent of car trips are two miles or less, and an average person leading a healthy lifestyle can make these on a bike.
Individually, taking a trip to the supermarket in your car may not seem very impactful but imagine a collective action arising out of millions of motor vehicles taking the same supermarket trip around the country. Considering the current gas prices as of today, and the fact that they are bound to rise, the cost of a car-trip to supermarket or the neighborhood or even to your workplace may not seem like a justifiable idea with E-bikes already entering the consumer market. Additionally, considering the depreciating value of your motor vehicle with each kilometer mile you drive and the cost of that mile in terms of gas, would provide you a fair idea of the crashed economics of driving a conventional motor vehicle.
As opposed to taking trains, they are six times more efficient. They also provide a more environment friendly mode of transportation, not to mention the freedom of movement without regard for schedules and the option to travel alone if desired. Taking the train or bus places you in close proximity to other passengers, some of whom may be ill. Given that we are still afflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already claimed the lives of over 2 million people, electric bikes appear to be a more secure and convenient mode of transportation, despite the pandemic.
4. Save the Roads
In comparison to other modes of transport, such as cars, electric bikes are extremely light. As such, they do not wreak havoc on the roads in the same way that these other modes of transportation do. When roads are damaged, they require repairs that puts into the use of even heavier vehicles that emit significantly more pollution into the environment. Riding an electric bicycle has a positive effect on the environment because it is not responsible for road damage.
5. Sustainability is the key
To protect the environment from our actions, it is the need of the hour that this generation makes a switch to electric vehicles. These are primarily accomplished through the use of renewable, clean, and sustainable energy, as well as through the use of energy-efficient appliances and devices. Solar energy is the preferred sustainable and clean energy source because it is generated by the sun’s heat, which is infinite and renewable. Electric bikes may be able to run on solar energy or consume it, making them completely environment friendly and beneficial to the environment. The introduction of electric cars signals the beginning of the transportation industry’s transition away from petroleum and diesel fuels toward a renewable alternative, with electric bikes leading the way. A simple shift towards a healthy lifestyle by switching to E-bikes can help you, help yourself and also help the environment.
6. No more stopping you
The use of electric bikes increases accessibility to some areas that other vehicles ordinarily cannot. E-bikes are small in built, light in weight and can therefore easily access different terrains and landscapes, making them an incredible choice for off-roading expeditions. It must also be noted that some national parks now allow visitors to use E-bikes, which can prove to be very beneficial in exploring new places and also connecting with nature. This may significantly be an addition for one’s passion for exploring the nature and driving through the unexplored. Who would have thought that the reward of exploring one’s passion would be a healthy environment?
7. Reduced Carbon Footprint
As overwhelmingly stated time and again, in this article, electric bikes emit no greenhouse gases, can be powered entirely by renewable energy, do not pollute the air, and have a negligible impact on the road. As such, switching to an electric bike will result in a reduction in your carbon footprint compared to those who rely on conventional modes of transportation. While charging them produces carbon byproducts, E-bikes emit significantly less carbon dioxide than driving a car. As such, owning and riding an electric bicycle unquestionably helps reduce carbon emissions.
GETTING RID OF YOUR E-BIKE BATTERY: THE RIGHT WAY
One major concern arising out of the use of E-bikes is the disposal of batteries. Specifically, these concerns focus around what can be done with the battery once it is no longer being used. No one ideally wants these used batteries being disposed into landfills because they release dangerous chemicals which gradually permeate the soil.
It is a fair doubt considering E-bikes is a relatively new technology, people don’t know and therefore wonder what to do with the batteries that die after use. Fortunately, there is a solution and operators don’t have to put the batteries in a landfill. In countries such as the United States and elsewhere, an increasing number of facilities are popping up that will recycle your e-bike battery, which is more valuable than you might think. Lithium-ion batteries, which are commonly used in E-bikes, are the easiest to recycle, as lithium is used in a wide variety of products, including laptops and cell phones. While mining lithium is currently cheaper than extracting it from recycled products such as E-bike batteries, this is very likely to change in the near future, especially if E-bikes continue to grow in popularity at their current rate.
So far, we have already established that how environmentally friendly are electric bikes? Riding an E-bike is environment friendly and allows you to reduce your carbon footprint roughly equivalent to that of riding a standard bicycle but with the ease of a motor vehicle, allowing its operator to cover larger distances and difficult terrains. With that being said, it is reasonable to wonder if this is the only way an electric bike can help the environment?
No, because there are numerous other ways for it to accomplish this. To begin, motor vehicles produce more than 30% of carbon dioxide, 80% of carbon monoxide, and 50% of nitrogen oxide emissions each year. And, to make things worse, many of these vehicles are driven by people who commute daily for very short distances such as their offices, grocery stores in the area, parks, colleges etc.
Consequently, if every American who commutes five miles or less to work switched to an electric bike for as little as just one day a week (which is minimal, some may even choose to make their E-bike rides more frequent), it would have the same effect as immediately removing one million cars from the road. The effect of removing one million vehicles from the road would be whooping, the proof of which is also the lockdown imposed during the pandemic. Numerous news reports suggested that due to people staying indoors and restrained from using their vehicles, the environment seems to have “healed”.
Driving a car consumes a large amount of fossil fuel and emits harmful emissions, which do not occur when you ride an E-bike. While the manufacturing process for new E-bikes may be considered a strain on the environment, it is negligible in comparison to the manufacturing of conventional motor vehicles. E-bike technology is here to stay and it is going to be these minimal lifestyle decisions that are going to impact the environment in the longer run, either positively or negatively, and the choice is yours.
R E F E R E N C E S
- What are the environmental benefits of an E-bike? 6th November 2020, Accessible At: https://storybicycles.com/blogs/news/what-are-the-environmental-benefits-of-an-e-bike
- The case for Electric bicycles, by Green America, Accessible At: https://www.greenamerica.org/green-living/case-electric-bicycles
- Are electric bikes good for the environment, Accessible At: https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/environmental-benefits-electric-bike.php
- E-bikes are good for the environment and for you too, by Graeme McLaughlin, 9th June 2021, Accessible At: https://www.sustainability-times.com/low-carbon-energy/e-bikes-are-good-for-the-environment-and-good-for-you-too/
- Electric Bikes and the Environment? Carbon Footprint, Energy, Battery Disposal, Accessible at: https://ebikeshq.com/electric-bikes-environment-carbon-footprint-energy-battery-disposal/
- Five biggest environmental issues affecting the US, by Jenna Tsui, 24th February 2020, Accessible At: https://eponline.com/articles/2020/02/24/five-biggest-environmental-issues-affecting-the-us.aspx
- Calculate your carbon footprint, Accessible At: https://www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/carbon-footprint-calculator/
- Electric Bicycles: Public Perceptions and Policy, Accessible At: https://www.bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/E_bikes_mini_report.pdf