Green cycling – a myth or reality?

    Cycling is becoming more and more popular these days. Some do it for the love of sports, some for commuting and some just to get from A to B. But have you ever wondered whether taking the bike instead of the car does have a positive impact on the environment? And whether the cycling industry itself is green? As passionate cyclists, we have plenty of times. Thus, we decided to lift the cycling industries’ skirt and see just how green cycling really is. 

    Before we take a deep dive into the world of cycling and its associated emissions, we need to make one important distinction: cycling as sports & cycling as a commute. 

    Differentiation of cycling activities

    When we talk about commuting or travelling from A to B & using our bike to do it, it usually substitutes for either taking public transport, walking, or taking the car. But does cycling really help reduce our carbon footprint & is taking your bike greener than public transport? We are here to find out how green cycling is when we use it for transportation. 

    On the other hand, we have cycling as sports, like road biking, mountain biking, gravelling and so on. Here it is a bit harder to compare how green cycling actually is, as we do not substitute it for some other way of transport. Instead, we look at the carbon footprint of the industry itself and compare it to other popular sports. (separate post)

    Emissions from transport 

    We already know that the transportation sector is amongst the sectors that have the biggest impact on our carbon footprint. In fact, it represents almost a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions in the EU and is the main cause of air pollution in cities. 

    While the average person drives around 50 kilometers each day, more than 40% of drives are less than 4 kilometers. So why not use the opportunity and hop on the bike instead? 

    By using your bike instead of your car just once a day, you can reduce your transport related carbon emissions by 67%.

    How green is cycling – the numbers.

    Let’s have a look at the numbers to understand where the above is coming from. To do so, we have taken several different means of transport and used their carbon emissions per kilometer as a comparison. 

    green cycling carbon emissions compared

    The data raises an intriguing point: walking seemingly carries a higher carbon footprint per kilometer compared to cycling, a fact that may catch many by surprise. But delving into the intricacies of this revelation unveils a more nuanced story. Contrary to what one might assume, the environmental impact of walking is not a direct consequence of the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other.

    Rather, the carbon footprint linked to walking is intricately intertwined with the broader scope of human activities. From the cultivation and transportation of food to the construction of pavements and the shoe industry, each element contributes to the overall environmental impact.

    If you are interested on the complexities where the carbon footprint from walking is coming from, read this article.

    Summary

    Overall, we have seen that cycling is in fact green. Surprisingly even greener than walking. Although this is mostly due to circumstances associated with the broader scope of human activities around it. 

    Cycling emerges as a sustainable and environmentally friendly mode of transportation, embodying a myriad of “green” attributes that underscore its appeal. The inherent energy efficiency of cycling, which requires only the rider’s physical effort, contrasts starkly with the carbon emissions associated with traditional vehicles. 

    With zero tailpipe emissions, bikes contribute significantly less to air pollution, fostering cleaner and healthier urban environments. Beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions, cycling actively promotes a more eco-conscious lifestyle by minimizing the demand for finite fossil fuels and decreasing traffic congestion. Additionally, the manufacturing and maintenance of bicycles generally have lower environmental footprints compared to motorized alternatives.

    Encouraging people to embrace cycling not only enhances personal well-being through physical exercise but also cultivates a profound positive impact on the planet, aligning with a sustainable, green ethos crucial for the health of both individuals and the environment.

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