|Cyclists contribute to energy conservation and thus also contribute to prolonging the benefits the whole world derives from fossil fuel.|
As a serious cyclist, you are already aware of your contribution to minimizing air pollution. But have you ever asked yourself that even as you prefer to ride your bike to work instead of driving your car, are you already being an eco-friendly cyclist? Are you by default, pro-environment? Or is it enough for you to bike to work at least 3 times a week to say that you are a staunch advocate of using the bike? Do we need to do more? Let us examine some facts about the bicycle to see if there is some way we can answer this question.
1. Bicycles don't use fossil fuel. You might have already read or heard of this: "Burn Fat, Not Oil." Indeed, when we bike, we use our own stored energy to pedal and thus we burn fat. The more fat the body burns, the more we get in shape. But this is a personal benefit. However, there are statistics that show the positive impact of cycling on the environment (Philippine based stats are unfortunately, hard to find.) In Australia for example, they have numbers that show "cycling 10 km each way to work would save 1500 kg of greenhouse gas emissions each year." We may not know exactly what or how "1500 kg of greenhouse gas emissions" look like but what should concern us is the fact that cycling affords us to avoid producing some amount of greenhouse gas. (A San Francisco, USA based website has a "bike commute calculator" that measures pounds of pollutants kept out of the atmosphere, money saved by not driving, and calories burned.) Now, we could see that indeed, cycling provides us an opportunity to be thrifty in terms of gas consumption and to be eco-friendly as well.
The sixth annual clean air forum of the Partnership for Clean Air, Inc., a network of clean air advocates, of which the Firefly Brigade is a member, showed that pollution is becoming a big health issue...
2. It takes less energy to produce bicycles than cars. One buzzword that came to the fore in the midst of the current global warming issue is carbon footprint. It is described as "the total sets of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an organization, event, product or person." Cars or any kind of motorized transport will obviously have larger carbon footprint than any bike. There are other factors to consider in weighing the actual levels of carbon footprint produced by two-wheeled vehicles versus four-wheeled ones and we do accept of course the fact that manufacturing bikes entails producing greenhouse gas even as we say that it's at the most minimum level. However, having the least amount of carbon footprint means being on the right track towards helping conserve both energy and the ephemeral resources we have that we need to sustain life. Cyclists contribute to energy conservation and thus also contribute to prolonging the benefits the whole world derives from fossil fuel.
Image from here.
3. Bicycles do not require engine oil or require batteries that use toxic chemicals. There are worldwide efforts to produce eco-friendly cars through the use of clean electric power instead of fossil fuel. However, the current state of battery technology is still far from the ideal state and thus, the best efforts to produce eco-friendly cars are limited to using hybrid power. We are still years away from using purely electric-powered vehicles that could equal or surpass the range of cars that run on oil- and gas-dependent internal combustion engine. (If you are interested to know more about this topic, you can get more information here.) Bicycles by nature require none of these non-renewable and limited energy resources, except of course through the occasional maintenance needs and essential accessories necessary to make cycling safer and more efficient. We do need lubricants to lessen friction in the gears and batteries to provide electricity for lights to make cyclists more visible at night. But these minimal needs should not lessen the significance of the bicycle as an eco-friendly product that serves the people's need for transportation. It is easily the most economical way to travel. Bikes have the least if not totally non-existent impact on road use as compared to cars and humongous trucks that weighs thousands of kilos more and continuously degrade the roads on which they pass through.
So are cyclists eco-friendly by default? We say that yes, and with incontrovertible conviction. Bicyclists are naturally eco-friendly.