Are e-bikes really less environmentally friendly?
Darco Cazin is founder of Allegra
Determining the effective environmental impact of an activity is a complex matter. At first glance, it may seem easy to distinguish one activity from another in terms of environmental compatibility. In reality, however, many factors are interrelated and influence the actual environmental impact.
In the context of e-bikes, there is a widespread assumption that they cause a higher environmental impact than conventional bicycles due to their electric drive train. However, this idea is not necessarily correct. In fact, e-bikes can actually be more environmentally friendly than conventional bikes when you also consider the calories riders burn.
A Swedish study by the IVL Environmental Research Institute found that, on a given route, using e-bikes produces up to 60 percent less CO2 emissions than using conventional bikes. The reason for this is perhaps surprising: as e-bikers burn fewer calories than other cyclists, they also require less food and thus contribute to a reduction in CO2 emissions.
The production, transport and storage of food is energy-intensive and contributes significantly to global warming. Because e-bikers burn fewer calories thanks to the electric assistance, they also require less food intake. While electric propulsion does consume additional energy, it is comparatively small compared to the environmental impact of food production.