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Be Like Denmark: Ditch Your Car and Ride Your Bike

December 21st, 2011

We all know that it’s better for us and the environment if we hop on our bikes to commute, especially the short trips we have every day, but it’s always awesome to have some solid numbers on our side too. Check it out…

via Treehugger:

A new study by the European Cyclists Federation (ECF) looked at the CO2 impact of biking, driving cars, taking the bus, and found – not too surprisingly, but it’s good to have the hard data to back up any claims – that if the countries of the EU-27 reached a level of biking similar to Denmark’s, that reductions of CO2 emissions of between 63 and 142 million tonnes per year could be possible by 2050. This would be 12 to 26% of the target reduction set for the transport sector by the European 2050 targets.

This isn’t some pipe dream. 2050 is far enough in the future that there’s time to make infrastructure investments to bring up the level of “bike-friendliness” in cities where it is lagging, and it’s long enough for smart incentives to work their magic and discourage car usage (especially in cities and for commuting).

via Bike Portland:

What makes the study interesting (and useful for settling debates) is that it took into account not just the emissions from the vehicles themselves, but from the entire life cycle of the mode including production, maintenance and fuel — which in the case of bicycling includes caloric intake.

Even with the CO2 emissions of food required to power a bicycle, the ECF study found that — while not emissions free — the bicycle is still the lowest emitter of greenhouse gasses per passenger kilometer traveled. One of the key findings was that emissions from cycling are over 10 times lower than those stemming from the passenger car, “even taking into account the additional dietary intake of a cyclist compared with that of a motorised transport user.”

When the complete life cycle of each mode is calculated, here’s how they stack up (results in grams of CO2 per passenger per kilometer traveled):

  • Bicycle: 21 g
  • Electric-assist bicycle: 22 g (e-bikes scored well due to larger range of standard bicycle and therefore greater chance to replace passenger car trips)
  • Passenger car: 271 g (based on short trips similar to those a bicycle could make)
  • Bus: 101 g

The study was focused on the European Unions emission reduction goals, but the findings are useful for anyone in the transportation realm who needs data to back up arguments about CO2 emissions.

Infographics via ECF (pdf)

Every Wednesday on Ditch Your Car we’ll be bringing you just another reason to spend more time on two wheels. Be it a photo, a statistic or an inspirational video, we want to keep reminding you about why riding is great!

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