Bicycle Environmental Issue

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The Cambridge public health department is doing a study on the quality of air bicycler’s inhale during their daily biking routes. The health department is working in conjunction with Boston University, MIT and Harvard in asking cyclists to transport miniature air samples during their usual routes across Cambridge. Researchers will measure the air pollution content in the air along different roadways in an attempt to reveal what toxins cyclists are exposed to on a daily basis.

Created by : E.Soring, C.Mack, D. Jarrett, A Ritchey


Bicycles as a Transportation Alternative

Energy Advantage of Bicycles

Bicycles are a great form of transportation because they are emission free and still provide a transportation method that is healthy for you and the environment. Automobiles are a quick and expensive (monetary and environmental) means of transportation. They consume around 20% of the world's entire commerical energy supply. Not only are we using our fuels at an alarming rate due to automobiles, but they are polluting our environment in return. We can start to reduce these emissions by making better judgements and decisions. For trips that are short and quick why not use your bike? By a lot of people taking these small steps we can make a huge difference.

Space to transport 60 people.

BikeSpace.jpg (image) Created by: Team Bike Riders


Several cities around the world have taken steps to increase the number of citizens commuting via bicycles through “bikesharing” programs, where the municipalities will provide communities with stations at which to rent and store bicycles. The effectiveness of these programs has been well documented; bike share initiatives exist in approximately 50 European cities already, most of which are entirely automated. [1] <Maibach E., Steg L., Anable J. Promoting physical activity and reducing climate change: Opportunities to replace short car trips with active transportation (2009) Preventive Medicine, 49 (4), pp. 326-327.>

~ Team TEAM

Saving the Environment

Green house gases are mainly composed of Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Green house gasses are emitted from the burning of fossil fuels. We use these fuels to heat our homes propel, our vehicles and supply, us with our electricity. By replacing the vehicular mode of transportation with a method that is self-propelled there is a reduction in the emission of the CO2. The United States Environmental Protection Agency [2] suggest that one use public transportation, carpool, or walk or bike. By just leaving your car at home two days a week one can reduce your green house gas emissions by 1,600 pounds/year.

Created by Team Discovery Channel

Riding Our Way to a Green Environment

The focus of many cities over the world today is figuring out ways to lower our carbon footprint in order to become more green. Many cities around the world have started creating bike paths for alternative sources of public transportation rather than the use of buses and other carbon emitting vehicles. A specific example is the city of Minneapolis, MN. An article written by Mitchell Dillman [3] states that over 100 miles of new bike paths were created over the past couple of years in order to solve traffic problems in the area. By doing this, congestion could be cut down as well as Carbon Dioxide (CO2) output from vehicles would also decrease because of the decreased amount of cars on the road. These bike paths bring out riders year round! The website also states that New York has also joined the trend of riding bicycles to help the environment. A 35% increase in bicycle commuters was seen over the past year in the city. As you may guess, this significantly helps cut down green house gas emissions. Overall, the bike is becoming a more widely used mode of travel because of its impact on being a true green machine.

Created by Team ARCH Rivals

Environmental Paradox of Bicycling

Professor Karl T. Ulrich from the Wharton School of the Business at the University of Pennsylvania poses an interesting question in his paper, The Environmental Paradox of Bicycling[4]. Normally, people tend to think that riding a bike instead of driving a car has a positive effect on the environment, however Ulrich argues for the opposition.
Professor Karl Ulrich
“The environmental benefits of human power are, however, strongly coupled to the environmental costs of increased population, due to increased longevity of those who engage in physical activity... Human-powered transportation is therefore less an environmental issue and more an issue of public health. The interplay between longevity and environmental impact is a central feature of the conflicting societal objectives of improving human health and increasing environmental sustainability.” [5] This is an often overlooked side to the push for environmental consciousness. Ulrich, despite this view, also states how those who decide to use a bike instead of a car as transportation may develop a higher environmental awareness in their actions. Ulrich concludes with stating how a person who uses a person electric vehicle actually has the most environmental benefits. This is because there will not be the same adverse environmental effects as a car, nor the health benefits that could lead to increased longevity.

Contributed by Team Bicycle

Air Quality

A World Health Organization study published in The Lancet revealed a startling statistic. Fatalities due to air pollution around the world are higher than traffic fatalities by a 3 to 1 ratio. 70, 000 people die each year in the United States alone due to air pollution! The same amount of deaths occur due to breast cancer and prostate cancer combined and only about 40,000 road deaths occur each year. These statics show how substantial the amount of air pollution has become and makes reducing the amount of emitted pollutants an even greater necessity. Air quality affects many aspects of day to day life. When exercising, small particulates that make up sodium dioxide and other dangerous mixes spread deep throughout you lungs causing trouble with breathing. Benzene, another pollutant in the air has been found with an exposure nine times greater to the concentration in cancer. Formaldehyde is similar to benzene except it has been found at levels ten times that of the concentrations in cancer. The release of these harmful pollutants has been linked to motor vehicles. The air pollution emissions from a car are greatest when a vehicle is first turned on. "'90% of the emissions in a 7-mile trip are generated in the first mile, before the engine warms up [6]. From this, it can be deduced that emissions can be cut down by 2-4% by just a 1% switch from trips in a automobile to a bicycle.

The Rebirth of Bicycles

In the early 20th Century, although cars were increasing as a popular means of transportation, it was not uncommon to see people using bicycles to get to work, perform errands, and take short trips. Unfortunately, due to the increased accessibility of highways, gas stations, and the cars themselves the automobile industry expanded, leaving bicycles to sit in garages and basements. However, in recent years, people began to realize the merits of bicycle riding, federal policies began to shift toward more bike use, and the cycling revolution was born anew. The main reason for this resurgence (other than the fitness and safety aspects of new bicycles) was environmental friendliness.

People have become more aware of facts proving the positive environmental aspects of biking. For instance, "If everyone who lives within 5 miles of their workplace were to cycle to work just one day a week and left the car at home, nearly 5 million tons of global warming pollution would be saved every year, the equivalent of taking about a million cars off the road." And because awareness of these facts is spreading, the number of bicyclists is increasing, and the amount of pollution is decreasing. In fact, "bicycling trips have doubled since 1990, reported the 2004 national Bicycling and Walking Study." It seems as if people are finally realizing that bicycling is an environmental savior compared to driving.

-Team B.A.B.C.

Bicycles Efficiency

Currently the world has become more aware of energy issues, not only are emissions taken into consideration when thinking about power production and transportation but one must also consider the amount of fuel that is accessible today. In the energy industry changes are being made to accommodate this issue as more renewable energy is being built as opposed to things such as natural gas and coal power plants. The automotive industry has taken steps to reduce the consumption due to automobiles as well, yet as a whole the current population must consider the efficiency of their own means of transportation. When compared to the use of an automobile or even public transportation the bicycle is per person a large factor more efficient than the alternatives. A 140 pound person moving at 10 miles per hour for three miles will use approximately 80 calories. When put into perspective even the most efficient cars available do not come close to this efficiency as a Hybrid Toyota Prius having 50 miles per gallon with 4 people in the car still uses 6 times the amount of energy of a bicycle per person. Most automobiles do not even have that level of efficiency, and even public transportation such as a bus does not come near to the efficiency of a bicycle. With energy being such a large issue today the information supporting bicycles is becoming more apparent and bicycles will start to make more of an impact on the everyday lives of people in society.

Team: Awesome

Ride to Reduce

By riding a bicycle instead of driving a car a person is in turn reducing the amount of gasoline used in the world. When used by cars gasoline is burned and produces carbon dioxide emissions that are harmful to the environment. Gasoline also poses another issue since oil supplies are depleting; oil that is used to make the gasoline. Depleting oil supplies will soon lead to drilling in new areas to obtain oil. Precious land such as land in Alaska will need to have oil wells sunk, destroying the land. In order to put in a new oil rig the land must be cleared, water lines and normally roads are put in. Along with this destruction, there is also the possibility of oil spills, which can affect both land and the sea along with many animals. So in the long run riding bicycles will reduce the amount of gas used which will reduce the amount of land destroyed.

Team: Awesomer

Ride for the Environment

By riding a bicycle to places that are close to your house you can make a big difference on the environment. According to the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey, 25 percent of all trips are made within a mile of the home, 40 percent of all trips are within two miles of the home, and 50 percent of the working population commutes five miles or less to work. Yet more than 82 percent of trips five miles or less are made by personal motor vehicle. All of these trips made by motor vehicles can easily be avoided with a bicycle. Sixty percent of the pollution created by automobile emissions happens in the first few minutes of operation. This is the issue with taking a car to go a mile from the house. Another benefit to bicycles is the amount of parking space they take up compared to cars. Number of bikes that can be parked in one car parking space in a paved lot: 6 – 20. The space that is saved can used for planting trees etc. Just by riding a bike, each person can reduce the carbon footprint and save the planet.

Created by Andrew, Dongao, Ken, Mike, Jordan

Public-Minded Inspiration: Then and Now

While we often only consider the effect riding a bicycle can have on our environment today, the original developers of the cycle also had many public concerns in mind. In our current age, it is almost common knowledge that transportation by bicycle instead of automobile greatly reduces the amount of waste produced during travel. While today bicycles help to reduce fossil fuel emissions, they once helped to reduce a completely different emission; horse droppings. When the bicycle was first introduced it was a popular alternative to the horse-drawn vehicle. Not only did it clear the city streets of feces, but it also allowed the rider more independence without the need to rely on a horse. If we apply this same situation to our contemporary world, we can acknowledge that the original innovators' could still find satisfaction in the bicycle today; relieving the public of harmful, disgusting waste and providing freedom of range for riders without more formal means of transportation.

Created by Stephen Kutys

Generate Electricity

When the wheels of a bicycle spin, they are expending energy. The energy from the pedaling can be used to generate electrical power. Some gyms have implemented this concept into their facilities. The Columbia Athletic Club, for example, generates energy for their facility using the 28 stationary bicycles in their cycling class. Although the systems are expensive, the system can be attached to an existing stationary bicycle. The bicycles save money for the company while also reducing the carbon footprint of the building. A maximum of 3.6 megawatts of energy can be produced in a cycling class of 20 bicycles. This amount of energy is enough to light 6 homes for a year. This amount of clean energy is also saves about 5,000 pounds of carbon emissions a year.

Team: Amy, Jason, Josh

Recycable Cycles

While bicycling has long been known as an environmentally friendly means of transportation, bicycles made of recycled materials are now an even "greener" option. In 2008 industrial designer Matt Clark developed a prototype of a lightweight bike frame made from polypropylene. Clark plans to further develop the idea into an affordable product for the public that can be made from recycled plastic bottles, and recycled back into plastic products after the bike's lifetime. Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni is also working on producing bicycles from recycled material, his are cardboard based. After much testing Gafni finally created a bike strong enough to support human and durable enough to ride outdoors, which he can sell for under $20. Production for these cardboard bicycles is scheduled to begin April 2013, and Gafni hopes they can be distributed in developing areas of the world for under privileged children to enjoy. Manufacturing bicycles from recycled materials is a win-win situation for the environment. Not only does it reduce the amount of material needed for production and the number of bicycles that will end up in future landfills, but the reduced material cost means bicycles will be more affordable and appealing to potential customers. With recyclable bicycles becoming a more attractive purchase, the positive environmental impact that bicycle travel has will continue to spread.

Team: Rachel, Adam, Josh, and Mohammad

7 Ways that Bicycling Can Save the Environment

Erika Price, with, wrote an interesting article about the ways in which riding a bicycle rather than depending on carbon-emitting motor vehicles can lend a hand in saving the environment. Though most people stop using their bicycle once they hit the age of driving a car, if one truly wants to "go green", then riding a bicycle can definitely help that, while also allowing the person to exercise in the process.

Though there are many ways in which riding a bicycle can lend a hand in helping the environment, this article lists a short list of seven different factors. Firstly, riding a bicycle will reduce a person's carbon emissions significantly, as the average car that drives 12,500 miles per year will emit 11,450 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. Next, riding a bicycle more frequently will reduce a person's dependence on fossil fuels, thus slightly reducing the country's dependence. This is important due to the fact that there is a large environmental impact in extracting this oil. Third on the list, riding a bicycle more frequently will reduce the need for more roadways, especially on a larger scale if many people were to make the switch. Building roadways takes a tremendous amount of resources in initial construction and upkeep, so any alleviation from that is a step in the right direction. The next item on the list is that reducing one's use of a car will thus reduce waste in landfills. Around 3 million tons of non-recyclable wastes goes to landfills each years from cars, so using a bicycle more frequently will reduce the amount of materials that need to be replaced due to wear on the car's components. Fifthly, riding bicycles will improve air quality of the area in which the bicyclists reside. If more people were to use bicycles, the overall air quality would greatly improve. Next on the list, which is more of a specific case, is that riding a bicycle to destinations that are closer will reduce "cold start emissions", in that cars are much less efficient during the first few miles of driving. Lastly, riding a bicycle is good for the wildlife in the environment, as a large number of animals each year are killed by motor vehicles.

Team: Chris, Zach, Aaron, Jeffrey, Joe, and Hussen

Bamboo Bicycles

Bamboo is a naturally occuring plant that is one of the fastest growing plants on Earth. They are usually only harvested after 7 years of growth during which they convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. Today, some innovative designers are utilizing the natural fibers of bamboo as major components in their bicyle frames. These frames are much more environmentally friendly because the material itself as well as the refining process. Bamboo only needs to be dried and fitted where steel must be mined from the earth, refined, and then processed multiple times.

In conjunction to being envionmentally friendly, bamboo bikes also have many desirable properties:

-Bamboo has a higher tensile strength than steel

-Bamboo absorbs vibrations very well

-Bamboo needs minimal refining (already columnar)

-Bamboo is light weight and hollow naturally

-Bamboo is an aesthetically pleasing and innovative

Team: Rich M., Anthony B., John N., Joe C., Kristen M., Lauren R.

Decrease the fuel usage

Bicycle is considered to be the greenest vehicle to the environment. From it's production process to its usage, the bicycle has contribution to the environment. By compare to other fuel engine vehicle the bicycle requires least parts for the production. and usually manufacture production was powered by the different kinds of energy fuel; these fuels were typically produce carbon dioxide.And carbon dioxide is harmful to the environment. So the least the part production the least the harmful to the environment. Also, the bicycle does not requires any fuel, it's powered by the human force. A resource has indicated that 50% of the American were living 5 miles away from the workplace. If those people choose to ride a bicycle instead of driving a car it would be great help to the environment. As more people riding the bicycle, the world's fuel consumption could decrease and production of carbon dioxide will significantly decrease.

Team: Wei, Nick, Casey

Citywide Bike Sharing

In Denver, Colorado, "Denver B-Sharing", the first large-scale bicycle sharing program reached its 102,891 ride on December 5, 2010 after it started on April 22, 2010. [7] In 9 months, the city of Denver managed to avoid over 312,000 pounds of carbon emissions and 9,600 pounds of other toxic air pollutants due to environmentally conscious folks who decided to ride a bicycle instead of driving a car. Bike sharing is the perfect way for cities and major towns to become "greener". It is affordable, good for your health and saves the environment. According to Denver B-Cycle data, over 6.33 millions calories were burned over the 9 month period. Bike sharing is the perfect solution for American cities. Imagine if every major town and city made the effort to put in place a bicycle sharing program where they provide bikes to people who do not own them. With the world population forever increasing, we cannot keep pumping toxic pollutants in the atmosphere with our cars and trucks. Bicycling is the future to a sustainable environment.

Team: Jason Burghouwt, Kevin Bakey,

Material Usage

Besides all the pollutants from fuel usage in a car, there are many other factors that can contribute to factory pollution as well. From the foam and plastic in its seats to the petroleum in its tires, each car is a small pollution factory. Several tons of waste and 1.2 billion cubic yards of polluted air are generated in its manufacture alone. In 2008 the US produced 1.6 million billion metric tons of waste mining ore for automotive production. In the US each year, painting and coating cars produces 40 million pounds of air releases and 24 million pounds of hazardous wastes.

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. The total number of pounds of pollutants, (comprised of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide), emitted per year is 12,140.30 lbs/year (or 0.97 lbs/mile) for passenger cars and 17,025.80 lbs/year (or 1.21 lbs/mile) for light trucks.

Even compared to driving a hybrid, bicycles are significantly more friendly for the environment. For one, hybrid cars are much larger than bikes. 14,000 pounds of carbon are produced in the production of each vehicle. Secondly, 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. Next, hybrids do use some gas to run, while bikes obviously require none. 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.

<a href="">Mineral Processing Wastes</a>

Team: Megan B, Lauren M, Brittany M, Hudson R, Doug D

Crunching the Numbers

Tiny things like no-toll costs and maintenance cost add up within an environmental impact of a bicycle. Bicycling reduces carbon emissions by approximately 94% compared to a car since a car needs its oil changed, tires rotated, and alignment work. In addition to maintenance on the cars, the roads that both vehicles travel on need repairs. The damage done by bikes is significantly less than that of cars. A bicycle can weigh up to 30 pounds, that equates to less than 1% of the weight of a Toyota Prius a very small car by comparison, and less than 0.4 percent of the weight of a monstrous Hummer H2. Shockingly bikes do not damage the asphalt nearly as much as cars.

Going further than previous articles, the Washington Post compared biking to more than just driving. This study compared the impact of bicycling, to using public transportation both during and off-peak hours. During peak operating hours, bus at full capacity is responsible for 2.6 times the carbon emissions total of a bicycle, compared per person per mile. The numbers came back, buses off peak up that number to almost 20 times the emission. No surprise, that biking is better for the environment than driving, and taking the bus in every aspect.