Will eBikes save the planet?

Wired published a rather excellent article “THE VEHICLE OF THE FUTURE HAS TWO WHEELS, HANDLEBARS, AND IS A BIKE” which explores the future of autonomous vehicles and whether they will truly be the answer to urban travel.

When you start doing the math, you very quickly realise that we have allocated an exceptional amount of space on our roads to not moving people to the point where we could be moving three times as many people down our roads given the provided space.

Change The Question - Move People (2)

However, we appear to have shafted the planet and are in the middle of the 6th mass extinction event on caused by you, fellow human.

What is your MPG?

In all of this, how efficiently we move around the planet is hugely important.

Even cycling and walking have a carbon cost in terms of food consumed. In fact the MPG of a human has been roughly calculated

Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 07.12.35

More interesting is that this article from 2011, doesn’t consider the impact of electric bicycles in their ability to efficiently use power or the impact of renewables on the electric supply market. However others have written on the subject “Surprising Ways An Electric Bike Affects The Environment”

Save the planet, get on an eBike

Although this might sound illogical, an eBike is the most efficient way to move a human.

It also makes Bath an easy city to cycle. 😉


  1. Comment I left on another page discussing this:
    Well let’s assume a cheese sarnie is 1kg of CO2 (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/jan/25/scientists-calculate-carbon-emissions-of-your-sandwich) and that it has 400 calories (https://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/calories/generic-cheddar-cheese-sandwich-on-white-bread-178514073), so assuming a 12 mile ride is 800 calories of effort, placing a mile at 133g of C02.

    Assuming 260 days, 12 miles per day, you’re looking at producing 520kg of CO2 to maintain your current weight for a year. You will also be exceptionally sick of the sight of cheese sarnies.

    So a litre of petrol has 2.3kg of CO2 in it. Your 12 miles on a bike, and only consuming cheese sarnies (other foods are far less CO2 intensive), is 2kg of C02.

    Now where an ebike is interesting is that it removes 40% of the effort, so a saving of 0.8kg of cheesy C02.

    A 500w bike battery will generate 100kg of C02 during it’s manufacture (https://www.thegwpf.com/new-study-large-co2-emissions-from-batteries-of-electric-cars/) and if you are charging your eBike from renewables then you would need to ride your bike at least 125 days (say half a year) to recover the manufacturing produced CO2.

    Remember electric motors are hugely efficient at converting energy into motion.

    I’m really just throwing numbers around here as a mental exercise, but I hope this sort of makes sense. Yes ride a bike, it’s amazing for you, but if you want to save the planet, ride an eBike.   😀

  2. Great post thank you. EBikes are taking off big time here in Australia, especially in congested regions like Sydney. The older demographic in particular are returning to cycling as the electric assisted technology makes it possible to enjoy the sport, as well as commuting, on the new technology. I recently started a blog specificially for senior ebikers to share information about safe riding tours. You might care to have a look at https://ebikerdiary.com/ . Cheers from Sydney

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