Stories / September 2019

Make A Difference: On Your Bike

Trading four wheels for two isn’t just positive for the environment — it’s good for you, too.

Back when he was London’s mayor, launching the urban cycle-hire scheme still referred to by many as ‘Boris bikes’, Britain’s new Prime Minister Boris Johnson remarked, “In 1904, 20 percent of journeys were made by bicycle in London. I want to see that kind of figure again. If you can't turn the clock back to 1904, ladies and gentlemen, what is the point of being a Conservative?”

No matter which side of the political divide you inhabit, it’s difficult to disagree with Johnson’s assertion that increased use of bicycles benefits a city, a country, its people and indeed, the world at large. From an environmental standpoint, by cycling a distance of 10 kilometres each way to work every day rather than driving, you’ll eliminate 1,500 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions from your personal footprint annually. Further, for every car that’s removed from the roads, traffic flow is improved, reducing the significant additional emissions that result from congestion.

Take up cycling, and that’s one less car that needs to be built and eventually disposed of — manufacturing a bike requires just five percent the materials and energy needed to build a car. A bike’s people-powered (and efficiently so — bicycling, you travel three times as fast as walking for the same amount of energy), meaning countless litres of oil no longer need be drilled from the earth. What about electric cars, you say? Let’s not forget that they still require power, generally derived from the burning of coal. (Bad, no matter what Boris’s buddy Trump says.)

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Christian Barker

Christian Barker is The Rake's Asia editor-at-large, a frequent contributor to this site, and an enthusiastic consumer of fine whiskies, sashimi and classic disco music - ideally in unison.