The Environmental Impacts of Cycling

Cycling and Environment

The invention of the bike is now over 200 years old and is still a great way to travel. So, how ‘green’ is a bike? How does it stack up against its alternatives? On today’s blog, we discuss the environmental impacts that a bike can have on our planet and how by cycling a little more, together, we can all make a big change.


First and foremost, the environmental impact of the production of a bicycle is significantly smaller compared to the manufacture of the most popular forms of travel: automobiles. According to a data in the USA in 2008, producing a 7.2kg road bike with a carbon frame uses 11,546,658,000 Joules of energy. On the other hand, a generic car uses 118,284,466,000J, which is over 10 times more than a bike.

In addition, the energy needed to build cycling infrastructure is less intensive than that of roads for automobiles. Bike lanes require smaller space than mainstream roads. Therefore, the amount of foundations and other material essentials is reduced than for cars. Ongoing, the maintenance work for cycling infrastructure also costs less energy. Also, should more people commute by bike rather than drive their cars, the need for new parking lots and roadways will decrease. So, less building all around!


As you may have noticed, a bicycle doesn’t emit any kind of smoke or burn any fuel. This proudly gives it the title of ‘a zero-emission vehicle’. So, if cars were replaced by bicycles, the environment would suffer from less carbon emissions and have improved air quality. Approximately, cycling 10 km each way to work would save 1,500 kg of greenhouse gas emissions each year. With moderate increase of the use of bicycles, cycling could save 6 to 14 million tons of CO2 and 700 million to 1.6 billion gallons of fuel each year. Especially, cycling during peak hours would contribute to further emission reductions by reducing congestion and improving traffic flow.

More notably, air quality improvement helps protect green spaces, monuments and buildings from the adverse effects of pollution. In specific, too much dust from the air can blacken the surface. The humidity and heat combining with pollutants may cause faster chemical reactions with corrosive effect. Consequently, the damaged buildings will need thorough maintenance, which consumes loads of energy and pollutes the air. Technically, we can lessen this issue by riding a bike to reduce emitting exhaust fume into the environment. And get fit whilst we do it!


One aspect of the environmental issues that seems to be neglected is noise pollution. This is actually associated with long-term health risks. Regarding this matter, cycling doesn’t make noise (freehub body excluded!), or at least not rumbling sound as automobiles do. Thereby, more bikes and fewer cars mean less noise and a quieter night’s sleep!

According to a Canadian study, the rate of deaths from heart disease of people living in the noisiest areas with vehicle noise is 22% higher than those living in the quietest areas. Hence, some cities have even emphasised noise pollution in their sustainability agendas. In the 2020 action plan, Vancouver envisions a city of ‘less pollution and cleaner air, less machine noise and more birdsong’. The role of noise pollution reduction on the agenda suggests that the issue is being considered more seriously. At least, this is happening in some big cities in the world. Additionally, the development of bike infrastructure in metropolitan cities like London and Paris has recently hinted at easing noise pollution.


As a goods-manufacturing business, we have the responsibility to offset the carbon that we are using to make our already sustainable products, bikes. And, what better way to do this than planting a tree. With forests worldwide being chopped down and burnt for the use of man, we want to ensure that our children and our children’s children can still enjoy the outdoors as we have and as nature intended.

Therefore, since the first day of 2020, we have made an environmental pledge to plant a tree for every bike we sell. This means that for every Reid bike and scooter purchased around the world, we will plant a tree in their honour. With this initiative, not only will the customers have a good impact on the ecology by cycling, but they can contribute further by putting more ‘green’ on our planet.

We are glad to announce that after the first two months of 2020, Reid bikes’ customers have planted over 6000 trees!




Now, it’s your turn. Having learnt the environmental impacts of cycling, do you want to help save the planet by riding a bike?




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