New research from the Transport Studies Unit at the University of Oxford highlights the significant difference a trip by bike can make to the environment by lowering a populations' carbon emissions.
The study observed 4000 people living in London, Antwerp, Barcelona, Vienna, Orebro, Rome and Zurich, with participants recording all of their daily trips over a two-year period. From these 10,000 travel diary entries, researchers calculated the carbon footprint for each participant.
Strikingly, people who rode a bike on a daily basis had 84 percent lower carbon emissions from all their daily travel than those who didn't.
Even shifting just one trip from car to bike per day cut the the average urban residents carbon footprint by about half a tonne over the course of a year — saving equivalent emissions of a flight from London to New York.
So if just one in five urban residents permanently swapped one trip from car to bike per day over the next few years, the study estimates that total emissions from car travel across Europe could be cut by 8 percent.
These results prompted study lead and Associate Professor in Transport an Oxford, Christian Brand, to call for stronger focus on active travel in the race to zero carbon emissions.
"Globally, only one in 50 new cars were fully electric in 2020, and one in 14 in the UK. Sounds impressive, but even if all new cars were electric now, it would still take 15-20 years to replace the world's fossil fuel car fleet.
"The emission savings from replacing all those internal combustion engines with zero-carbon alternatives will not feed in fast enough to make the necessary difference in the time we can spare: the next five years. Tackling the climate and air pollution crises requires curbing all motorized transport, particularly private cars, as quickly as possible. Focusing solely on electric vehicles is slowing down the race to zero emissions," said Brand.
With the pandemic forcing many countries to adapt to active transport to reduce the spread of the virus, Brand is hoping that these same habits can contribute to tackling the climate emergency as COVID confinement is eased.
Read Christian Band's article: EVs Are Great, But 'Active Travel' Is The Best Way to Achieve Net-Zero Cities
This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.