Want a Low Carbon Footprint? Travel on Two Wheels — or Two Feet


Do impending global disaster and (if that’s not enough) high gas prices have you itching to buy your first electric vehicle (EV)? Before you do, think about investing in a bicycle or a comfortable pair of walking shoes.

A new study of the lifecycle emissions of various forms of transportation found that walking and cycling had by far the smallest greenhouse gas footprint, one thirtieth the impact of driving a gasoline-powered vehicle and one tenth the impact of driving an electric vehicle.

Christian Brand, one of the study’s authors, wrote in Streetsblog: “We observed around 4,000 people living in London, Antwerp, Barcelona, Vienna, Orebro, Rome and Zurich. Over a two-year period, our participants completed 10,000 travel diary entries which served as records of all the trips they made each day, whether going to work by train, taking the kids to school by car or riding the bus into town. For each trip, we calculated the carbon footprint.”

The key is including the emissions from producing and, ultimately, disposing of the vehicles. Even if an EV only runs on electricity from renewable sources, the emissions from everything from mining the raw materials to manufacturing the car add up, especially compared to the emissions from producing a bicycle.

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