Are e-bikes really green? This is one of the many questions that electric bicycles started raising in the last 2 years. Why in the last 2? Well, for the simple reason that they start to sell fast. A recent article in the New York Times,told the story of a developing industry, and not particularly for environmental reasons.
The essence of the report is that 120 million e-bicycles are now in use in the fastest growing country in the world. The China boom is also effecting Europe, America and even India, in which the sales will grow to 250,000 units in 2012, leaving the European market far behind. The price range of those hybrid wheels vary between 1,500-3,000 dollars and the industry itself is rolling nowadays a cool 11$ billion.
But are they green? In terms of air pollution yes – each kilometer on the e-bicycle produces significantly less emissions of green house gas. However, the typical Chinese model uses five lead batteries in its lifetime, each containing 20 to 30 pounds of lead. Not all is well in the realm of e-cycling.
Another concern is where to put the e-cyclers? The bicycle lanes don’t want them on their turf, while the car roads are much too fast for them. Do they need their own lanes that will take the environmental toll?
None the less, we plead in favour of e-riding in the cities and the country. One of our favorite solutions will only be available at the end of the year, but it’s worth waiting for.
The COPHENHAGEN WHEEL was unveiled by MIT students at the COP15 Climate Change Conference, and is equipped with a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS), sensors, a smart lock, and a Bluetooth connection to the rider’s Smartphone. The energy from the braking action is stored in the wheel, where it can be recovered anytime by an electric motor for later use.
The sensors on the other hand monitor bike speed, distance traveled, direction, pollution levels, and proximity of friends on the road. And the cherry in the pie is the anti-theft system which sends you an SMS if someone is trying to steal the bike.
The developing team promises that the price of the modular system that fits any wheel, will not be more then 500$.
by Itai Lahat