In every corner of the world, the bicycle or a regional variation of it is socially, culturally and historically embedded in our lifestyles, but familiarity with this modest piece of machinery means that the potential for it to improve the environment and ourselves can be overlooked.
Here are just three ways that the bicycle can drive green living in the future:
It might sound like an idea fresh from an episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, but using bikes to generate electricity and power technology or machinery is not a sci-fi notion or idealised future concept, the know-how already exists.
Image via IMDB: Black Mirror, Fifteen Million Credits
According to Alternative Energy, the “Pedal-A-Watt” bicycle stand transforms any kind of bike into a means of generating energy. In just 30 minutes, a cyclist can create enough power to run small electronic devices like LED lighting for almost three hours.
Scale that up to combine pedal power with solar and you have ELF, “the most efficient vehicle on the planet.” This zero-emission alternative to the car, produced by Organic Transit, can currently achieve a top speed of 30mph and is in use at some theme parks and commercial sites in the States.
These are just two examples of many, but the eco possibilities of the bicycle (or one of the many adaptions of it) mean that it’s likely to feature in an increasing number of applications that reduce our reliance on carbon producing fuels for power and motion in the near future.
There undoubtedly needs to be considerable investment and commitment to funding and upscaling these new systems into mass production and affordability, but the potential is real and so are the benefits.
Substitute for Vehicles
The commitment of international governments and manufacturers to reduce carbon emissions generated by vehicles has meant that in recent years, all kinds of transport have become less damaging to the environment.
However, there is no escaping the fact that less damaging is still damaging. Increasing bodies of research link man-made environmental pollutants with climate change and the declining health of essential eco-systems, plants, wildlife and ourselves.
Vehicular pollution alone means that the very air we breathe, particularly if we live in cities, puts us all at increased risk of developing “asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia and heart disease” but cycling can change that.
The humble bicycle is a zero-emission mode of transport that could eliminate a large percentage of environmental damage to make the planet and all of its inhabitants healthier.
Cities which invest in their cycling infrastructure like Copenhagen, which this month saw bikes outnumber cars for the first time, and London, which is expected to achieve the same results shortly, are quite literally paving the way for pedal-powered transport to take over from polluting alternatives.
Tackling Health and Poverty
There is mounting evidence that sedentary lifestyles, often brought about by the requirements of the workplace but also by the increase in media-led leisure activities, are creating significant health problems for the general public.
Linked to serious conditions like heart disease, obesity, muscular degeneration, osteoporosis and even some cancers, our habitual inactivity is slowly killing us.
Add to that the stress of financial hardship many people face in the current economic climate and lifestyles can seem pretty bleak, but it’s no exaggeration to say that a bicycle can solve many of our health and money problems.
On average, the daily commute alone costs workers more than £1750 per year and that can double for anyone in London. Swap public transport for a personal car and the cost of purchasing, running and maintaining a car makes simply getting from A to B prohibitively expensive.
Add to that the health benefits of cycling and it’s clear to see why the bike, with its very long history has a very secure place in our future.
To find out more about how a bicycle can help you lead a greener, healthier and wealthier lifestyle, contact the friendly cycling experts at Formby Cycles.