The following is a guest post by Bobbi Peterson
If you’re concerned about the environment — and who isn’t these days? — the ways you choose to travel from point A to point B can have a huge impact on your personal carbon footprint. If you live far from where you work and have a long daily commute, or if you just love to travel and explore the world, it’s a good idea to consider exactly what’s the best way to get from A to B. Picking a more sustainable method could help protect the environment and slow global warming.
But which methods of travel are the most energy efficient? The answers may surprise you.
Sustainable Transport: What’s the Best Way to Get From A to B?
Believe it or not, your humble two-wheeler is the most energy-efficient method of travel that’s commonly available. The average cyclist can go five times faster and three times farther on a bike than on foot — and all for the same expenditure of energy. Your petroleum-free bicycle is also quiet and pollution-free, so it’s the all-around best choice for sustainable transport.
For the truly dedicated, a velomobile ratchets up the efficiency of a traditional bicycle by combining a recumbent bike with a streamlined shell that lets riders maintain speeds around 40 mph. A typical velomobile may be three to four times as efficient as a traditional bicycle, but they can be prohibitively expensive for the non-millionaires among us — though they’re still cheaper than a car.
Alternative Fuel Cars
Even if you can’t imagine trading your car in for a pedal-powered vehicle, alternative fuels can make formerly inefficient, gas-guzzling vehicles a thing of the past. Instead of relying on fossil-based gasoline, some highly efficient new automobiles are powered by natural gas, electricity and even hydrogen. Each of these fuels is far cheaper than traditional gas and has much lower emissions.
Though not the quickest way to get anywhere, some estimates put walking at a jaw-dropping fuel efficiency equivalent of 700 mpg. Like riding a bike or velomobile, walking is pollution free and has the added benefit of being good for you. Instead of sitting still, you burn calories and improve your cardiovascular fitness, which are great for your overall health and longevity. Walking also requires no special skills or licenses — the ultimate in low-tech travel.
Light rail and public buses aren’t as efficient bicycles, and some of them rely on fossil fuels, but the secret to their efficiency lies in the number of people they transport. If 100 people share the same subway car, the fuel used to operate it is divided among those people, meaning your share is far less than it would be if you drove yourself to the same destination. Public transportation also helps reduce pollution in cities by cutting traffic, so cars aren’t idling on the road and wasting fuel.
No matter which sustainable form of transportation you choose, the important thing is you commit to using it more often than you have in the past. Even if you can’t give up your traditional combustible engine car entirely, you can choose to walk more places on the weekend or ride your bike to run some errands after work.
You can also easily combine public transportation with walking or cycling to get where you’re going. Figuring out the quickest route with multiple methods will take some planning, but every little bit you do to cut your fossil fuel use adds up in the end. Feel free to try several different ways of getting from here to there to find out which works best for you.