The bicycle and the electric bike: the transportation methods with the least pollution

Discover why the electric and conventional bicycles are the transportation methods with the least pollution and the cleanest for a green and sustainable future.

In an increasingly polluted world where people are more concerned about the environmental impact of our daily actions, the choice of sustainable means of transportation becomes crucial. In this regard, the bicycle and the electric bicycle emerge as two true champions, offering efficient, smart, and environmentally friendly mobility. In this article, we will explore why these vehicles are considered the least polluting, and how the foldable electric bicycle Ossby GEO aligns perfectly with this vision of sustainable mobility.


The carbon footprint of the electric bicycle compared to other types of urban mobility vehicles.

Concerns about climate change and air pollution have led to an increase in demand for cleaner and more environmentally friendly modes of transportation. In this context, many people consider the low carbon footprint of electric bikes and conventional bicycles when choosing viable options for urban and suburban commuting.

Carbon Emissions Comparison: How do electric bicycles and traditional bicycles stack up?

Analysing the data from the study conducted for the TNMT¹ platform reveals an intriguing perspective on the environmental contribution of bicycles and e-bikes compared to other modes of transportation.

The bicycle is one of the least polluting modes of transportation. It is the undisputed star of urban mobility by providing an efficient, respectful, and sustainable means of transportation. According to the figure or table, ebikes rank fourth, although they have a higher carbon footprint than conventional bicycles, they remain a significantly greener option compared to many other modes of mobility and one of the transportation modes with the least pollution. With emissions of approximately 18.4 grams of CO₂ per kilometer per user (considering both the manufacturing process, maintenance, and infrastructure), the carbon footprint of the electric bicycle is lower than that of transportation modes such as electric motorcycles, buses, regional trains, and cars, whether they are electric, hybrid, or gasoline-powered.

This analysis highlights the importance of considering the context and relative comparison when assessing the environmental impact of electric bicycles. Although they generate carbon emissions during manufacturing and operation, their contribution is significantly lower compared to other more conventional and polluting means of transportation.

Tal y como recoge el estudio publicado por las bicicletas eléctricas continúan siendo una opción atractiva para la movilidad urbana sostenible, ofreciendo una alternativa viable y ecoamigable en un panorama dominado por la preocupación por el cambio climático y la contaminación atmosférica.

¹ The study takes into account an analysis from the Lufthansa Innovation Hub,, press sources (The Financial Times and The New Republic), and several research studies on average carbon emissions by type of transportation.

Furthermore, it’s essential to consider the environmental impact during the life cycle and use of the electric bicycle. By not emitting gases during operation, these bikes contribute significantly less to atmospheric pollution compared to traditional motorized vehicles. During its lifespan, it will generate a very low carbon footprint when charging, with minimal impact considering that a charge for the Ossby GEO, for example, costs €0.15. Opting for an electric grid based on clean and renewable energies would result in 0% emissions.

Another important point to consider is the durability and longevity of electric bicycles.. Often, these are designed to be robust and long-lasting, which means they can cover long distances and last for many years with proper maintenance. This contrasts with combustion vehicles, which tend to have a shorter lifespan and require more frequent and costly replacement.

In summary, while it’s true that electric bicycles generate some amount of pollution during their lifecycle, this is significantly lower compared to vehicles that use hydrocarbons for their operation. Their contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality in our cities positions them as a cleaner and more sustainable option for urban mobility in the future.

¿Son las bicicletas eléctricas vehículos sostenibles? ¿Cuál es el impacto ambiental de las bicicletas eléctricas?

There is a common belief that electric bicycles, due to their electric motor and battery, are inherently more polluting than other conventional forms of transportation. However, this perception does not completely reflect reality. It’s important to debunk this misconception and clarify that the electric bicycle is one of the least polluting means of transportation. It’s often argued that electric bicycles generate pollution during their manufacturing and at the end of their lifespan, which would invalidate their status as a sustainable means of transportation. However, a more detailed analysis of the entire life cycle of these vehicles reveals a more balanced picture.

Let’s now see what causes pollution in electric bicycles. The manufacturing process of electric bicycles, like that of any other vehicle, requires the use of resources and energy. It is true that during this stage, certain amounts of CO₂ are emitted, but it is important to contextualize this data.

Studies, such as the one mentioned earlier, have shown that compared to internal combustion vehicles, electric bicycles have a much lower carbon footprint.

In this section, it’s important to consider that the carbon footprint of a bicycle depends on the material it’s made of, as well as where it’s manufactured. It’s not the same to have a carbon fiber bicycle manufactured entirely in Asia than, for example, the Ossby GEO electric folding bike made in Spain, which uses a biocomposite of recycled materials, reducing pollutant gases by 82%.

If you have any doubts about what an electric bicycle is, you can take a look at this article where we explain all the details:

¿Qué es una bicicleta eléctrica o ebike? Guía completa

Breaking down the carbon footprint

According to these studies, an electric bicycle emits approximately 360 kg of CO₂ over its entire lifespan, covering an average of 20,000 km (a very conservative estimate). However, it is essential to consider that this amount is significantly lower than that generated by traditional motorized vehicles. Therefore, both the ebike and the traditional bicycle are the least polluting means of transportation.

Mode of Transport Occupancy Factor (pax/veh) Energy Consumption Factor (gep/pkm) CO2 Emissions Factor (gCO2/pkm)
Motorcycle 1 22,4 52,5
Car 1,2 48,3 120,7
Private Bus 25 13,3 35,1
Urban bus 20 18,7 49,4
Intercity bus 24 12,1 32,0
Commuter train 25 9,4 32,8
Underground / Tram 30 8,5 29,6
Electric bike 1 0,6 2,2
Electric Motorbike 1 4,9 17,1
Electric Car 1,2 12,2 42,5

Source: IDAE – Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (Spain)

Comparing with other means of transportation

In comparison with other vehicles, electric bicycles, including the Ossby GEOstand out for their low carbon footprint. For example, the carbon footprint of an electric bicycle is 16 times lower than that of a conventional car and 6 times lower than that of a low-displacement motorcycle. This highlights the fundamental role that electric bicycles play as one of the least polluting means of transportation in reducing air pollution and mitigating climate change.

On our blog, you’ll find a guide on the advantages and disadvantages of cycling as a means of transportation. Check it out here!

Examining the data gathered from various sources, including the study for the TNMt platform, we have compiled a detailed table comparing the occupancy factor, energy consumption factor (ECF), and CO₂ emissions factor (CEF) of various modes of transportation. This additional information provides a more comprehensive understanding of the environmental contribution of electric bikes compared to other modes of transportation.

As seen in the table, electric bicycles stand out for their low carbon dioxide emissions factor (2.2 gCO2/pkm), making them an exceptionally sustainable option compared to modes of transportation such as cars (120.7 gCO2/pkm) and motorcycles (52.5 gCO2/pkm). Even compared to other electric vehicles, such as electric cars and electric motorcycles, electric bicycles remain leaders in terms of energy efficiency and emissions reduction.

This information reinforces the importance of considering not only CO₂ emissions but also occupancy factor and energy consumption when assessing the environmental impact of different modes of transportation. Electric bikes stand out as a highly effective option for reducing carbon footprint and promoting a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle.

The contribution of the Ossby GEO folding electric bicycle

The Ossby GEO folding ebike not only represents a revolution in terms of urban mobility but also marks a milestone in the search for more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives. Thanks to the innovative biocomposite used in its manufacturing, this bicycle offers a range of significant advantages that make it an ideal choice for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

Sustainable Biocomposite: A New Era in Bicycle Manufacturing

The biocomposite used in the Ossby GEO bicycle is the result of a careful selection of sustainable materials and technologies. Crafted from recycled fibers from Spanish wind turbine blades and vegetable oil, this material not only offers excellent strength and durability but also drastically reduces the carbon footprint associated with its production. In fact, its production is 82% less polluting than that of a conventional bicycle, demonstrating its commitment to sustainability from the initial stage of the process.

You have all the information about what biocomposite is and why we use it to manufacture the Ossby GEO in this post:

¿Qué es el composite y cómo se usa para fabricar bicicletas? – Todo lo que necesitas saber

Diseño y calidad:una colaboración innovadora

The collaboration between Ossby and Ànima Design has been fundamental in carrying out this ambitious project. With a focus on aesthetics and quality, a bicycle has been created that meets the highest standards of design and functionality. Leveraging the characteristics of the biocomposite to the fullest, the SMC (sheet molding compound) manufacturing process allows for the creation of integrated shapes and further increases sustainability by using recycled compounds.

Reduced Environmental Impact: An Option for Sustainable Micromobility

The Ossby GEO ebike stands out not only for its innovative design and exceptional quality but also for its reduced environmental impact. By eliminating the soldering, resins, and chemical catalysts present in other materials, the manufacturing process of this bicycle becomes much more environmentally friendly. Furthermore, its folding capability makes it a perfect choice for sustainable micro-mobility, being compatible with public transportation and facilitating short-distance travels.

Towards cleaner and more sustainable mobility with traditional and electric bicycles.

In summary, both conventional bicycles and electric bicycles stand out as the least polluting means of transportation with a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to other vehicles. Their ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality in our cities makes them indispensable options for a sustainable future. And not only that, they also improve our physical and mental health, create more peaceful cities, and promote more interaction among citizens. By the way, did you know that you also get exercise with an electric bike?

With innovations like the Ossby GEO folding electric bike, we can move towards cleaner, more efficient, and environmentally friendly mobility. The incorporation of sustainable technologies in bike manufacturing, such as the biocomposite used in the Ossby GEO, helps minimize the carbon footprint of electric bikes and promotes more eco-friendly transportation.

Join the sustainable mobility movement with Ossby and be part of the change towards a cleaner and more sustainable future!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why are bikes and electric bicycles considered the least polluting means of transportation?

The traditional or muscle-powered bicycle and the electric bicycle are highly efficient and do not emit polluting gases during their use. Additionally, their carbon footprint and impact are significantly lower compared to other means of transportation, making them more environmentally friendly options.

According to studies, the carbon footprint of an electric bicycle is considerably lower than that of vehicles such as cars, motorcycles, buses, and regional trains. Despite having a higher impact compared to conventional bicycles, electric bicycles still remain one of the cleanest options available. You can take a look at the comparative table above.

The electric bicycle helps reduce air pollution by not emitting gases during its operation, it also reduces noise pollution and helps improve road safety by pacifying urban environments.

Moreover, its manufacturing can be more sustainable if more efficient and/or recycled technology and materials are used, such as the biocomposite used in the Ossby GEO folding electric bicycle.

The carbon footprint of the electric bicycle, estimated at around 18.4 grams of CO₂ per kilometer per user, encompasses all aspects, from manufacturing to maintenance and associated infrastructure. This figure places the electric bicycle below other means of transportation, including electric motorcycles, buses, regional trains, and combustion vehicles, whether electric, hybrid, or gasoline-powered.

To give you an idea, the production of the Ossby GEO is 82% less polluting than that of a conventional bicycle made of aluminium or other metals.

Furthermore, its use does not generate polluting emissions, making it a cleaner option for urban mobility.

The use of electric bicycles has a positive impact on the air quality of our cities. By not emitting polluting gases during operation, electric bicycles contribute significantly to reducing air pollution, promoting cleaner and healthier urban environments. In addition to this, electric bicycles also help reduce noise pollution and pacify urban environments, creating friendlier and quieter spaces for citizens. On top of that, they promote an active lifestyle, improving the physical and mental health of users.