Octa's transportation blog

How Riding a Bike Benefits the Environment

Orange County is a bicycle-friendly community with more than 1,000 miles of bikeways. In honor of Bike Month, here are five ways these pedal-powered zero-emission vehicles help the environment. The article originally appeared in Momentum.

It relies on pedal power, not fossil fuels

There’s no such thing as zero footprint or carbon neutral, literally. The best we can do is minimize our impact by making incremental changes to what we already do every day. For instance, if you must drive, consider carpooling. If you have a scooter or motorcycle, consider switching to an electric version or an e-bike; most importantly, make sure the charging station offers renewable energy like solar power. The key is to reduce our reliance on inefficient vehicles and fossil fuels. Cycling is a great option because the only energy we’re consuming is our own and it comes with health benefits!

It lowers costs and carbon footprints

Every purchase we make has an impact. We want to choose products that are efficient, that last for a long time, and don’t produce toxic byproducts at any stage of the product’s life. It’s also a lot gentler on your wallet long-term! Repairing and maintaining bikes is also easy and fast – whether you do the work yourself or take it to your local bike shop mechanic. Many of the tools for repair and maintenance can be bought at your local bike shop as well – and some retailers even offer basic intro seminars you can take to learn to fix a flat tire, for example.

It improves air quality for everyone

By choosing biking as your main transportation method, you not only contribute to reducing pollution but you’re also helping improve the air quality in your neighborhood. For example, riding a commuter bike to work instead of driving will lower your greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 3,000 pounds every year - not only safeguarding your health but also that of your community.

It means less congestion and traffic on the road

We often think driving is a faster alternative to riding but in most cities, it’s not necessarily the case. By leaving fossil fuel-based transportation behind, we avoid unbearable traffic jams, piling costs, and getting stuck in a cloud of toxic particles. According to independent studies done by INRIX, Americans lost $1,348 on average per driver per year in 2018 due to congestion; they factor in things like lost time, health side-effects, fuel lost during idling, etc. On the other hand, cycling gives you the freedom to switch routes, go through a park for fresh air, and often gets you to your destination faster.

It helps reduce noise pollution

Over long periods, noise pollution can be a risk to our health and wildlife. A sound that goes above 85 decibels can harm our hearing. For reference, subway trains fall in the 90-115 decibels range; imagine hearing that every day! They also change animals’ habits and threaten their survival by confusing animals that rely on sound to catch their food.

Active transportation, including biking and walking, is a priority for OCTA.

Learn about the different kinds of bikeways in Orange County, download an Orange County bike map, and discover cycling safety tips here.