The information below is the summary of a paper I wrote for my government class. Please see the attached paper and sources for a more in depth explanation.
When comparing a bicycle and an electric bike making the average American commute of 30 miles per day (15 miles round trip) at a speed of 15 miles per hour the bicycle produces around 8.5 times more carbon emissions.
The environmental costs of producing and electric bike over a normal bicycle
The environmental impact of production is almost meaningless when compared to life time operating cost. The extra components on an electric bike do add to the environmental impact, but not much: "The li-ion battery plays a minor role regarding the environmental burdens of e-mobility irrespective of the impact assessment method used." (Notter 6550-6556)
The impact of diet
This exercise assumes the average American diet. A vegetarian diet cuts the carbon footprint of the cyclists in half. (Pimental)
The use of carbon neutral energy sources
Wind, solar, hydo, and nuclear make up 27.5% of Americas domestic energy production.
Cost in dollars
"Resources - conversion factors ." Carbon Trust. Carbon Trust, n.d. Web. 6 Apr 2011. <http://www.carbontrust.co.uk/cut-carbon-reduce-costs/calculate/carbon-footprinting/pages/conversion-factors.aspx>.
Martin, Pamela. "Diet, Energy, and Global Warming." Earth Interactions. 10.9 (2006): 3. Print.
Notter, Dominic. "Contribution of Li-Ion Batteries to the Environmental Impact of Electric Vehicles." Environ. Sci. Technol.. 44.17 (2010): 6550–6556. Print.
Pimentel, David. "Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the environment." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 78.3 (2003): 660-663 . Print.
Wright, Chuck. "Bicycling Energy Calculator." Chuck Wright Consulting. Chuck Wright Consulting, n.d. Web. 5 Apr 2011. <http://chuck-wright.com/calculators/bicycle.html>.
Lemire-Elmore, Justin. "The Energy Cost of Electric and Human-Powered Bicycles ." Grin Tech. ebikes.ca, April 13, 2004. Web. 6 Apr 2011. <http://www.ebikes.ca/sustainability/Ebike_Energy.pdf>.
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