Electric Fat Bikes and the Environment
We’ve all heard that not having a car is one of the best personal things you can do for the environment. We’ve all probably heard too that bicycling is a great alternative.
So what about electric fat bikes? How do they fit into the picture?
Year-Round, Gas Free
One study out of Sweden showed that one of the biggest impediments to cycle commuting is something pretty much unavoidable: winter (although with global warming, we might be seeing less of that). The paper, which was published in Transportation Research, concluded that improving the level of winter maintenance on bicycle paths could increase the number of winter bike trips by 18% and decrease car trips by 6%.
We’d certainly appreciate more attention and civic resources being paid to cyclists – and no doubt the earth would appreciate that too. But what about an alternative for those folks with backwards city governments, or people who are going to have to tackle adverse conditions no matter how many bike trails are well cleared?
For them, there are fat bikes. An electric fat bike in the winter can significantly increase your mobility without resorting to internal-combustion engines. Whether for commuting, running errands and picking up groceries, or just some nice exercise and recreation, an electric fat bike will keep you riding – and out of your car – in all but the most heinous weather conditions.
Another interesting study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment found that proper selection of a less-traveled route through the city can significantly reduce air pollution exposure. The research showed that cyclists choosing less-traveled routes through city streets (avoiding the major, heavily trafficked roads) were exposed to as much as 1/3 less air pollution compared to commuters taking the most direct route along busy streets.
What does this one have to do with electric fat bikes? More than you might think, since back streets and less-traveled routes frequently cut across parks and rougher streets. In the summer, a standard mountain bike can probably make these routes no problem, but in the winter (or when steep hills loom) and electric fat bike might be just the thing you need.
But What About the Electric Motors?
Some people may wonder about the environmental impact of building electric motors. There definitely is some impact, but compared to cars, electric bikes are much more efficient. One study looking at the impact of electric bikes in China (which are produced using less-efficient technology than we use) showed that electric bikes and other two-wheeled electric vehicles emit several times lower pollution per kilometer traveled than motorcycles and cars.
The study also found that the largest source of environmental contamination from these vehicles was lead due to the use of lead-acid batteries – a good argument for the more efficient, cleaner technology used in Surface 604 electric fat bikes.