Emissions and air pollution The U.S. Census says that half of all Americans live within five miles of where they work. Greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 5 million tons annually if every person in the world who works less than 5 miles from home cycled to work instead of driving one day per week. That is equivalent to one million people giving up their automobiles. Furthermore, it would save more than 24 billion gallons of gas.

Except for China, the entire economy of the United States produces more CO2 than the transportation sector.

Each year, motor vehicles contribute more than half of the nation’s nitrogen oxide emissions, more than 80% of the nation’s carbon monoxide emissions, and more than 30% of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions.

During the first few minutes of a ride, 60% of the pollutants produced by motorized transportation are released. These “warm up” trips that are driven over a shorter distance produce more air pollutants than those that are driven over a longer distance because this is the time of day when your car is performing at its worst. A bike ride can easily take the place of shorter trips.

Each automobile generates 14,000 pounds of carbon emissions. In contrast, according to a recent estimate made by a graduate student at MIT, the production of an average bicycle releases approximately 530 pounds of greenhouse gases. To offset the bike’s initial carbon footprint, you would need to ride around 400 miles with a typical American diet. You would reach carbon neutrality in less than a year if you only rode your brand-new bicycle for two miles five days per week. Your carbon footprint will decrease even further if you ride a used bike rather than a brand-new one because you will be reusing materials rather than producing additional emissions during production. Better for the environment, the longer you ride your bike.

Additionally, biking eases traffic congestion. Since idle automobiles are harmful to the environment, fewer automobiles on the road means a healthier community.

On the same amount of energy it takes to move a car 20 miles, a cyclist can travel 960 miles.

Air pollution is just one aspect of emissions. With precipitation, airborne pollutants fall to the ground, contaminating both our farmland and groundwater.
Sprawl and Habitat Bicycles make it less necessary to clear land for parking lots. Six to fifteen bikes can easily fit in a parking space for one car. Additionally, pollutants are released into the air and groundwater by the asphalt, roadway tars, and other chemicals used to construct parking lots.

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