Initially dismissed as a “bike for the unathletic” or “lazy”, the bike with switchable electronic support is becoming increasingly popular. In this article, we explain the climate impact e-bikes due as a result of their increased usage.
Cycling as part of a healthy lifestyle
Cycling in general – whether electronically assisted or not – is an environmentally friendly alternative to the car, especially in densely populated cities where excessive car use leads to heavy traffic.
It’s an often occurrence that traffic jams and road works prevent motorists from reaching their destination quickly. So it is not uncommon for the same distance to be covered by bike in less time than by car.
Apart from saving time to get from A to B, regular cycling keeps you fit and healthy! Your fat metabolism is stimulated, your cholesterol level is reduced and depending on your speed, the route you take and your weight, you can burn around 420 calories per hour. Therefore, exchanging your car for a bike is the best way to prevent obesity and the associated health problems.
With an e-bike, you can cover even longer distances in even less time. High-quality e-bikes can cover a distance of approximately 50 to 100 kilometres per battery charge at a speed of up to 45 km/h when used in mixed mode.
Getting fresh city air
Switching to cycling also has benefits for life in the city. Because lower CO2 emissions mean better air.
Particularly in summer and in times when there is no cooling, or cleansing rain, densely populated districts are often plagued by smog and stuffy air. The many cars that wait at the numerous traffic lights with their engines running every day contribute immensely to poor air conditions.
In addition, the cityscape also suffers from the most lonely mode of transport. Cars stand still on average 23 of 24 hours per day. And for this, they need plenty of space and asphalt as a solid surface. Although the trend is slowly moving towards urban greening with meeting zones, tree avenues, wide bicycle stands and paths instead of grey rows of parking spaces and horrendous parking fees, it is indeed only slowly.
The battery as an environmental pest
A relevant counterargument for e-bikes is the batteries used for them. During production, between 55 and 75 kilograms of CO2 is released per kilowatt hour. In addition, these are normally lithium-ion batteries, which are also found in our mobile devices.
The decomposition of dry lithium concentrate for production has an extremely harmful effect on the environment. One of the countries where lithium is mined is Chile. There, the groundwater from the Atacama Desert is pumped into large basins and evaporates to produce lithium. This reduces the water reserves of the entire region and the groundwater level drops considerably. The consequences for the people living there are enormous.
Improve the eco-balance of the e-bike through your own behaviour
To solve this problem at least partially, you can rely on buying used e-bikes. These are usually not only cheaper, but their purchase also improves the environmental balance considerably.
Another option would be to use e-bikes according to the new so-called “sharing economy“. More and more suppliers are becoming part of this business model, with Car2Go, Uber and Airbnb being just a few of the companies that make use of this system.
With regard to improving battery use and storage itself, care should be taken to ensure that they have the longest possible life. To do this, it is essential that the batteries are stored correctly. This means not leaving the battery in the sun and storing it at a temperature in the range of 0-20°C at 30-60% charge. In addition, the battery power should not be subjected to too much strain, as this also contributes significantly to wear and tear.
Conclusion: 2 wheels are better than 4!
The behaviour of each and every individual influences our environment and climate change. However, the use of a bicycle as a replacement for the car does not only have environmental benefits. Better health, general well-being and a more beautiful cityscape are the result. E-bikes in particular get you to your destination even faster and invite you to cover longer distances.