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Chemical engineer working in the field of bulk chemicals for e.g. plastics and energy, specifically energy efficiency and renewables.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

About three years ago I moved to The Netherlands and was subsequently using my summer bonus to buy a Trek 1.5; a standard entry level raving bike (the frame is fantastic BTW). Currently I also have a 30 year old Peugot bike as my go to for socialising and shipping. This was brought about by the fantastic cycling infastructure in The Netherlands. While the weather is not always the best, it is easily possible to cycle from one side of the country to the other without ever joining a road that contains cars. Essentially The Netherlands has a bike road network with its own traffic lights and sign posts. Cycling is not only segregrated, it is revered in this country with the right of ways always in favour of the cyclist (except on major roads where bikes are not allowed) when cars and bikes should meet. Since nearly everyone cycles, there is a good respect between cyclists and other road users. The use of the bicycle does many things for me and this article got me think about it again. I will discuss some of these things below.

Carbon footprint

My daily commute to work and back is approximately 50 km. I work on average 220 days a year assuming I take no overtime and an 8 hour day. My annual commute is approximately 11,000km. I have three main modes of transport to get to work. I can get the company provided bus, I can get a lift from my house mate who works on the same site sometimes and I can cycle. The breakdown is as follows
  • Company bus: 6,800km
  • Lift from friend: 2,000km
  • Cycle 1 day a week: 2,200km
Using the carbon footprint calculator for driving a car, I can come up with a figure that is specific for the make and model of the car. Using the data from the slate article allows me to calculate the carbon footprint for the overall lifetime. By cycling that amount and not going by car I am saving around 300kg of CO2. The average CO2 emissions per person for the UK is around 10,000kg. One thing to note is that it is difficult to get CO2 emissions data for cycling.

Cost for fuel

Obviously I would have to purchase a car, have insurance etc. But in terms of fuel, the cost is easy to calculate. The car I chose for the carbon test does approximately 6.6L/km and fuel costs in The Netherlands is around €1.65 per liter. I save €550 from the exercise.

Freedom and exercise

The feeling of freedom on a bicycle is hard to convey. Hitting the road and exploring the surroundings is always interested. Not only that but it leads me into a bicycle trip that I will be doing in the future where I currently plan to go down the Rhine. Obviously I do not need to go to the gym (though I do for rugby) to keep in shape.

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