For thousands of years now, humans have leveraged the advantages that wheels offer when it comes to transport. As early as 3500 BC, people knew that this simple invention will make life easier and eventually, cut transportation times infinitely. Today, we are surrounded by countless transportation options and we have grown accustomed to the comfort of this amenity.
However, what this has led to is an “abuse” of this comfort at the expense of not only our health but also our environment. There are about 1.3 billion motor vehicles on the road all around the world (in fact, this number is estimated to reach 2 billion by 2035), with some countries such as those in Western Europe having half as many passenger vehicles as citizens. Congested roads are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the issues these numbers mean in the long term.
Of course, at first glance, it might seem easier and more convenient to just sit in your car and drive yourself to work – in many cases, this is the fastest way to get from A to B. But driving yourself to work, followed by sitting for 8 hours, and then spending the rest of the evening again, sitting, equals to quite a sedentary lifestyle. You might not realize the consequences of this right now but in due time, such a lifestyle becomes a health concern.
The good news is that a simple lifestyle change can have a great impact on your life, and even the health of our planet if others follow suit. An environmentally-friendly transportation option in the form of an e-bike is the answer. How? Read on to find out.
Our planet and CO2 emissions
Considering the current state of the planet, which does not only manifest in numbers on a paper but is also evident when you look out the window of your office and fail to see the blue sky, it is ever so important to start thinking in a “green” way and change our habits. Thankfully, every day more and more people realise this and take a step towards a healthier environment. Some are cutting down on waste, others go vegan, while some people think hard about how they could reduce their CO2 emissions.
At this point, it is no news to anyone that one of the major issues of our planet is CO2 emissions. And while you yourself can’t stop factories from changing their approaches, you can considerably improve your own. A great place to start is your daily commute.
An average car emits about 404 grams of CO2 per mile. Multiply this number by the distance of your commute and you get a pretty good idea about where you’re standing. And this is not even taking into account how much time you lose (and CO2 you emit) while being stuck in traffic! Now, if you were to switch your car ride to a bike ride, this number would drastically decrease (and you’d get numerous other benefits to be discussed later, too).
However, there is no denying that bikes are less than ideal in many cases. Your commute might be too long for you to pedal through it all, and no one wants to arrive at work soaked in sweat (even if for the sake of health). It might simply take way too long for you to get there at the speed you can comfortably reach while riding a regular bike, and the terrain might not be ideal all the way (think: slopes). But that still does not mean you have to forget about an environmentally-friendly commute. Instead, you can consider e-bikes for the role.
E-bikes are a practical solution
Electric bikes or e-bikes are just like regular bikes, with the difference that they help you a little bit when you’re pedalling. This gives you not only greater speed while having to invest less energy (you won’t get as tired, to put it simply) but it also ensures a smoother ride as you will have an easier time fighting environmental obstacles and reaching a certain speed after stopping at traffic lights, for instance. What might prevent someone from being able to cycle from A to B becomes no problem when it comes to an electric bike: wind, the aforementioned slopes and distance.
Electric bikes have come a long way since they first appeared on the market, and while they used to be pricey, today you can find simpler models under $1000, although, more powerful and sturdy models will be a little more expensive. Nevertheless, for those who plan on riding their electric bike in city traffic, simpler models suffice. And while some might argue that electric bikes can compete with regular bikes when it comes to how “clean” and healthy their use is, the truth is very surprising.
While electric bikes are indeed equipped with a battery that you can charge, research suggests that electric bikes still contribute less to CO2 emissions than their regular counterpart. For one, e-bikes do not directly emit toxic gases into the air. But that is not all. The truth is that the energy needed for charging your battery-assisted bike still amounts to fewer CO2 emissions than how much CO2 is produced while getting your food to you – your food that you will need for the energy to pedal your regular bike. It might sound counter-intuitive, but riding any kind of bike is better for the planet than any other mode of transport, including walking. And if an electric bike can make your life easier at the same time – all the better.
Biking and your health
Another great reason for switching the means of transport you use on a daily basis to an e bike is your health. As mentioned in the beginning, a sedentary lifestyle is a big problem of us, modern humans. Most of us work sitting down, entertain ourselves sitting down, and even travel sitting down, with minimal movement. However, in the long term, a lack of exercise will be the root of health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, obesity and even mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. In fact, according to WHO, a sedentary lifestyle is among the top 10 causes of death and disability in the world, which in itself is reason enough to get moving as soon as possible.
But the grave reality is that most of us simply don’t have time to keep to an actual workout schedule – admit it, you have tried several times and each time, gave up after a few weeks, at most. So, naturally, we have to find other ways to sneak physical exercise into our routines, and one great way is by finding activities that we enjoy and that will not take extra time. Biking is perfect for this.
However, as we have already discussed, riding your bike will not always be possible. Switching to an electric bike can, on the other hand, greatly expand the list of occasions on which you can simply get on your bike and get from A to B in no time. And while you might think that an electric bike does not nearly have the same level of health benefits as a regular bike, the truth is, again, surprising.
A study conducted by the Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives Journal assessed 10,000 participants from various European countries and found that ultimately, e-bike riders got more exercise a week than those riding a regular bike, surprisingly. An explanation for this could be that e-bike riders seem to spend more time on their bikes. This might be related to the fact that e-bike riders can take on longer distances; for instance, a regular cyclist might opt for a car ride when it comes to a distance that an e-biker might still feel realistic to tackle.
But that is not all. Studies have also observed the average BMI of the two groups of people and found e-bikers’ to be slightly higher. What this might mean is that the slight help that an electric bike provides for its rider might give enough motivation for people who are less fit to keep up with this activity. It’s also a suitable option for those struggling with obesity as well as for older individuals, as it facilitates keeping up an active lifestyle despite the obstacles.
The fact that those using e-bikes tend to spend more time riding them essentially means more exercise for them and more time spent outdoors, which are essential both for physical and mental health. Not only does this exercise lower your risks of depression, being outside is also great for stress relief and the fact that you won’t be spending time stuck in traffic also eliminates a stress or that many people constantly deal with in the 21st century.
As you can see, electric bikes seem to be a win-win for both us, people, and our planet. Nowadays, in these hectic times, many of us struggle to keep our health a priority while also being efficient in our work lives. A small change such as switching your car for an electric bike for your daily commute can, however, change your life considerably. With all the health benefits and environmental benefits, it should be a no-brainer.