See how healthy the world would be if everyone bicycled. Over half of the total greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by transportation come from passenger cars. Because of this, almost every plan to cut down on pollution in the future involves getting people to switch from cars with internal combustion engines to electric versions of the same cars.
However, other nations have found alternative ways to cut emissions. These include Denmark and the Netherlands. In both of these countries, the primary mode of transportation is the bicycle. This encourages residents to give up their automobiles totally.
An international group of academics has made the decision to investigate the causes that have allowed these nations to achieve that goal. Also, what may occur if other countries adopt a transportation focus comparable to that of these countries.
Two things have become abundantly clear. First, it is difficult to obtain trustworthy statistics on bicycles. Second, transportation based on bicycles has the potential to cut emissions comparable to those of a reasonably large industrialized nation.
Obtaining a driver’s license and car registration is mandated by the government. So, we have fairly accurate statistics about the use of motor vehicles. This is usually never the case with regard to bicycles. Hence, the researchers were required to make an educated guess as to the total number of bicycles existing in the majority of nations.
See how healthy the world would be if everyone bicycled
To do this, they gathered data on the production, import, and export of bicycles. They included it in a model along with information on the average amount of time that passes before a bicycle is discarded. The data only goes up to 2015, so it is already a little bit outdated.
Nonetheless, the nations for which they are able to produce estimations represent 95 percent of the global GDP. This is despite the fact that the pandemic has increased cycling in many countries.
In certain countries, statistics on the number of vehicles on the road are not readily available. It was calculated, in some cases, based on local data from inside the nation. In other situations, the estimate was generated from countries that have demographics that are comparable to the country in question.
Almost 4.5 billion bicycles have been manufactured worldwide since the 1960s. This is almost 2.4 times the number of cars. This fact alone makes bicycles far more common than automobiles. More than half of these have found their way to only five countries. This includes China, the United States of America, India, Japan and Germany.
China is home to over a quarter of the total number of bicycles in the world. However, looking at the data on a per capita basis, the results were substantially different. The smaller, wealthier nations had the greatest bike-to-body ratios. Countries such as Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway all have bicycles for each individual resident.
The Procedure Followed
The researchers classified the nations they studied into one of five broad groups. Countries with a low GDP and a small number of automobiles and bicycles form one of these groups. In a different group, which also includes China, Chile and Brazil, the number of people who own cars increased quickly.
However, it started at a low level, whereas the number of people who own bicycles increased slowly or not at all. A category that was quite similar to this one had the exact same pattern. This is except it began at a higher level of ownership for both kinds of cars. Countries such as Italy, Poland and Portugal are listed in this category.
The group that includes the United States, Canada and Australia had high rates of ownership of both bicycles. Also automobiles, but they tended to make considerably more frequent use of their automobiles than their bicycles.
The researchers suggested that this may be due, in part, to “large geographical areas.” In the end, the category of industrialized European nations was classified as having very high bicycle ownership. Also, steady levels of automobile ownership and residents who actively utilize their bicycles.
This category includes countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. The authors state that “the essential transit demands are already addressed.” Also, the rise in bicycle ownership may be attributed to people’s desire to live a life that is less harmful to the environment and more healthy.
Cultures with large number of vehicles compared to bicycles
There are some peculiar people in this place. Some prosperous cultures, such as Japan and Switzerland. This culture has a large number of vehicles. However, it has a remarkable public transit infrastructure, which helps to reduce the amount of car use.
In some prosperous European countries, like Norway, the climate and topography work against extensive usage of bicycles as a mode of transportation. In addition, a number of nations that have high rates of traffic fatalities. This includes Brazil, Russia and Thailand, are also among those that have low levels of cycling.
Overall, the conclusion that can be drawn from the fundamental study of ownership and usage is that money and the appropriate location are both necessary components of an environment that is centered on cycling.
However, there is no assurance that one will emerge as a result of these factors. It appears like there has to be a decision made at the national level to implement this, as well as a government that is willing to build the required infrastructure.
It should come as no surprise that a great number of nations do not even possess these prerequisites. It is far more unusual for a culture to possess both of these things simultaneously.
Nonetheless, we have sufficient information on two countries that serve as glaring examples. This includes Denmark and the Netherlands. Therefore, the researchers projected the number of people who ride bicycles in these nations to the whole population of the world (2.6 daily kilometers per person in the Netherlands, 1.6 in Denmark).
See how healthy the world would be if everyone bicycled
If everyone rode bicycles at the rate that Danes do, the world would save 414 million tons of carbon dioxide. This is about similar to the amount of carbon dioxide emissions the United Kingdom produced in 2015. Bringing it up to the level of the Dutch would prevent roughly 700 million tons of carbon, which is the majority of Germany’s emissions for that year.
The researchers also found that nations like the Netherlands and Denmark have significantly lower obesity rates compared to their countries of comparison, such as the United States and Canada. They believe that, globally, we are already averting 170,000 fatalities yearly due to the ride. This is based on the recognized health concerns that are present there.
When they applied this theory on a worldwide scale, they discovered that a level of bicycle use comparable to that of Denmark would prevent 430,000 lives annually. Cycling at the level seen in the Netherlands would prevent 780,000 fatalities.
Having said that, the susceptibility of bikers to being hit by automobiles presents its own set of potentially fatal hazards.
However, these are in no way, even very close to being sufficient to balance the benefits that come with reduced obesity. (Depending on the degree of use, they’d cause somewhere between 90,000 and 160,000 more fatalities per year.)
There is also the possibility that these numbers will be even lower if there are fewer people utilizing vehicles as their primary mode of transportation.
Advantages to switching to bicycles
It is important to note that the advantages of switching to bicycles are most likely grossly underestimated by these calculations, as they seem to imply. Producing the average bicycle will need far fewer resources and will result in a product that is more durable than most automobiles.
Additionally, it is anticipated that maintenance would require a significantly lower number of resources. If one were to just concentrate on how the bicycle is utilized, one would not take into account many of the factors that would become apparent in a comprehensive lifetime review.
The researchers are absolutely correct in their assertion that there are a great number of areas in which the climate makes cycling a less-than-ideal alternative. In addition, the number of areas in which the heat makes it a positively dangerous option is growing as a result of our warming environment.
On the other hand, some of the other problems aren’t as serious as they might appear to be at first.
For instance, the introduction of bicycles that are equipped with electric assistance. This type innovation has made it such that steep terrain is no longer the obstacle that it could have been a decade ago.
And despite the fact that a lot of nations have huge open regions where vehicles will continue to be essential, the trend toward urbanization means that the majority of people living in those same countries will be living in settings where cycling may be converted into an option.
Tell your friends how healthy the world would be if everyone bicycled.