Bicycle Commuter

The positive effects of cycling extend beyond the individual cyclist to his or her surrounding world. Beyond the health benefits discussed in the previous post, cycling also impacts the environment. You may not find significant motivation in cycling’s health benefits; however, you may be more encouraged when you understand its external effects as well.

Reducing Carbon Emissions

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, gasoline and diesel combustion accounts for 31% of C02 emissions in the country. Consequently, the transportation sector is one of the largest sources of C02 emissions in our nation, second only to electricity. Carbon emissions contribute to global warming.

If you want to protect the environment and avoid unnecessary carbon emissions, you should consider cycling when possible. Whereas a car in its life cycle will emit about 271 g C02/passenger/km traveled, one bicycle will emit only about 21 g C02/passenger/km traveled throughout its life cycle (European Cyclists’ Federation). A bicycle, then, makes just one-twelfth of the C02 emissions of a car. This may not seem like a huge number, but consider the following for a better idea: New York City commuters could save 120 million pounds of C02 emissions per year if just 5% would switch from driving (or catching a taxi) to biking to work each day. Doing so would reduce carbon emissions by as much as planting a forest 1.3 times the size of Manhattan.

Cycling Instead of Driving

Think of a few places you generally drive your car instead of taking your bike. Could you opt to cycle instead of drive? How much of a difference might it make? You can accommodate for any possible changes to your routine by leaving a few minutes earlier, bringing a change of clothes, and/or carrying a backpack or messenger bag instead of a briefcase.

Here are a few situations you might be able to cycle instead of drive:

  • Commuting to work
  • Going grocery shopping
  • Taking a picnic to the local park
  • Visiting friends or family at their homes
  • Attending a sporting event, play, or other community affair


Salt Lake City recently adopted a bike share program called GREENBike. Whether you live in the city or are simply visiting, you can pick up a bike from any of a number of locations and drop it off somewhere else within a specified amount of time. This would be a viable option for anyone who lives in SLC and is seeking an alternative solution to dealing with parking and inner city traffic. It will also allow individuals to reduce their carbon footprints on the environment by using cars less.

Determine how you can incorporate cycling into your daily life and encourage your loved ones to do the same. Doing so will inevitably reduce the overall carbon emissions in the environment. You will most likely find that the benefits (particularly environmental benefits) will far outweigh any costs. These efforts on your part may seem small, but when a number of people make little adjustments, the combined result will be tremendous change.

Photo Courtesy of Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious.