Sustainable transport | Environmental benefits of bicycles compared to cars and hybrid

How does bicycle commuting contribute to a clean environment?

  1. Bicycling uses no fuel.
  2. Bicycles take a lot less energy to make than a car.
  3. Bikes don’t require toxic batteries or motor oil.

How much air pollution is prevented by commuting by bicycle? (1)

10 mile round trip commute 5 days a week for a year

Vehicle MPG Gasoline Emissions
Small Car 35mpg 68 Gallons 0.7 Tons of CO2
Midsize Car 20mpg 124 Gallons 1.3 Tons of CO2
SUV/4×4 14mpg 170 Gallons 1.9 Tons of CO2

And those are just the pollutants from fuel use.

We have to add the emissions from the foam and plastic in the seats and the petroleum in the tires; each car is a small pollution factory. Several tons of waste and 1.2 billion cubic yards of polluted air are generated in each car manufacture alone! During its lifetime, on the road, each car produces another 1.3 billion cubic yards of polluted air and scatters an additional 40 pounds of worn tire particles, brake debris and worn road surface into the atmosphere.

Bicycling significantly reduces transportation emissions while also reducing traffic congestion and the need for petroleum.

How much more environmentally friendly is bicycling compared to driving a Hybrid?

  1. Hybrid cars are much larger than bikes. 14,000 pounds of carbon are produced in the production of each vehicle.
  2. Most hybrids require large batteries such as nickel metal hydride batteries which are known carcinogens, and have been shown to cause a variety of teratogenic effects. Also, nickel mining is often done in open cast mines with all the attendant pollution that goes along with excavating large holes in the ground.
  3. Hybrids do use some gas to run, while bikes require none.
  4. When you rely on a car for transportation, you are more likely to go further for errands and not rely on completely carbon free forms of transportation such as walking and bicycling. You support your local businesses when you get there by bike or walking.


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