Are e-bikes really less sustainable?

Determining the effective environmental impact of an activity is a complex matter.

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Determining the effective environmental impact of an activity is a complex matter. It may seem easy at first glance to distinguish one environmentally friendly activity from another. In reality, however, many factors are interrelated and influence the actual environmental impact.

There is a widespread belief that e-bikes have a higher environmental impact than traditional bikes due to their electric drive. However, this idea is not necessarily correct. In fact, e-bikes can be more environmentally friendly than traditional bikes when the calorie consumption of the riders is also taken into account.

A Swedish study by the environmental research institute IVL has found that the use of e-bikes on a route can produce up to 60 percent less CO2emissions than the use of conventional bicycles. The reason for this is a surprising connection: Because e-bikers burn fewer calories than other cyclists, they also need less food and thus contribute to a reduction in CO2emissions.

The production, transport and storage of food are energy-intensive and contribute significantly to global warming. Since e-bike riders burn fewer calories thanks to the motorized support, they also need to eat less. Although the electric drive consumes additional energy, this is comparatively low compared to the environmental impact of food production.

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