Week 16: Pedal for the Planet
With the kick-off of Bike Month, the time is right to focus on incorporating sustainable transportation into our journey towards low-impact living.
The Dark Side of Driving
In 2021, over 79 million motor vehicles were produced globally; an increase of 1.3% compared to 2020.ACEA
As we learned back during our week two challenge when we calculated our eco footprint, transportation plays a starring role in how our daily living impacts the environment. In many cities and towns across the U.S., driving tops the list as the single greatest source of pollution. There are lots of hidden environmental costs to keep in mind when we hop in our car and go.
The extraction, transport and processing of the raw materials (steel, rubber, glass, plastics, paint) used in vehicle manufacturing are extremely energy-intensive resulting in a significant carbon footprint often not given much thought. On average, manufacturing a vehicle, excluding the battery, generates around six tons of carbon emissions.Brink News
For every 100g of CO2 released through fuel exhaust (tailpipe emissions), an additional 17g is emitted during the extraction, transport and refining of crude oil into that fuel (referred to as well-to-tank emissions).European Environment Agency
Automobile use is responsible for about 33% of air pollution in the US. The average vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. In addition to carbon dioxide (CO2), automobiles produce methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O).
Driving just one mile emits about 404 grams of CO2.EPA
Non-exhaust Particulate Matter Pollution
Wear and tear from brakes, tires and road surfaces is expected to overtake tailpipe emissions as the leading source of fine particle pollution released into the air by road traffic by 2035. Additionally, these microparticles settle onto roadways and are washed into our waterways when it rains. Non-exhaust particulate matter emissions from passenger vehicles worldwide is likely to increase by 53.5% by 2030.OECD
End-of-Life Dismantling and Disposal
Although roughly ¾ of a vehicle can be recycled at end-of-life, at least ¼ of its parts are destined for landfills, where the plastic remnants and other toxic materials will either persist for a minimum of hundreds of years, leach into the soil, or wash into our waterways.EPA
Car trips of under a mile add up to about 10 billion miles per year according to a 2009 U.S. National Household Transportation Survey.
Replacing car use with walking or biking for these short trips would save about 4 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year (the equivalent of taking 800,000 cars off the road).
- Produces zero tail-pipe emissions (hooray for boosting air quality!)
- Consumes no fossil fuels (bye bye well-to-tank emissions)
- Reduces traffic congestion
- Convenient: Hello, “VIP” Parking
- Decreases need for more parking lots
- Minimizes wear and tear on our roads
- Generates miles of smiles (check out Narberth Cycling Club for inspiration and FUN)
Can’t hop on a conventional bike? You can still ditch the car and green your transportation routine by opting for one of these alternatives:
- Try transitioning to a trike (great if your sense of balance feels off on 2 wheels).
- Need more room? Consider a cargo bike. Some cargo bikes haul up to 600 lbs and can accommodate up to 4 kids or 2 adult passengers!
- Don’t want to arrive at your destination sweaty or feeling defeated by steep hills? Invest in an e-bike. Pedal-assisted electric bikes have an even lower carbon footprint than conventional bikes because fewer calories are burned per mile, despite the emissions from battery manufacturing and electricity use.
- Ride the bus.
- Hop on the train, light rail, or subway.
- Carpool or Rideshare.
Still need to use your car? Commit to the working towards the following: