How Much Can You Save Biking to Work?

Ethical Markets Resource Efficiency

How Much Can You Save Biking to Work? (New Calculator)

Posted: 20 May 2012 10:00 AM PDT


If you’re in one of the most bikeable cities in the U.S., or even if you’re not, and you’re thinking about biking more for transportation purposes, you might get a boost from a new calculator that helps you to figure out how much you’d save by leaving your car at home and riding your bike instead.

The inputs are really straightforward and simple and I’m sure the give a decent average estimate of your savings. However, as APTA’s monthly transit savings report cards note, there’s a big difference in gas prices from city to city. Additionally, there’s a lot of variation in how much you spend on gas depending on the vehicle you drive. So, if you’re serious about getting an accurate number, you might want to use the calculator as guidance and calculate your savings on your own.

Or, as I’ve recommended before, you can just look at how much APTA says you’d save from switching to transit and add the cost of a monthly transit pass into that to calculate your savings from bicycling. You can then go ahead and subtract $0.10 per mile as the Kiplinger calculator does if you wish, though I’d be surprised if the health savings from bicycling don’t make up for that.

It would be nice if the Kiplinger calculator showed your savings in more than just the daily figure — adding in estimated monthly and yearly savings would make a stronger impact. But it’s a start. Take a look or take the suggestions above to see how much you could save by switching to bicycling!

Image: urban cyclist via Shutterstock

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Smart Bike Wins “Best of Best” Red Dot Award, Rolling Out in Europe

Posted: 20 May 2012 07:30 AM PDT

Jo Borras wrote about the Smart Bike back in August (yep, same company as the eScooter I posted about yesterday and the more well known Smart Car). The Smart Bike is an electric bike with what many think is a sweet and practical design, including, it seems, people in the know.


The Smart Bike recently won the “Best of the Best” Red Dot Award for its high-quality design.


This e-bike beauty is rolling out in Europe now and is supposed to hit the U.S. soon. We’ll keep you posted, but in the meantime, here’s more on the bike from EV World (via TreeHugger):

The rider of the smart ebike decides how much power he wants the electric motor to deliver to support his muscle power by pressing a button on the handlebar. There is a choice of four power levels with the fourth level providing maximum pushing power. Depending on the power level selected and the manner of cycling a battery charge can last for up to 100 kilometres.

With 423 Wh the lithium-ion battery is one of the most powerful batteries in the competitive environment. It has been attractively integrated in the frame of the smart ebike. The portable battery can be charged either at a normal socket or whilst riding, with the latter offering advantages in terms of cost and the environment. The wheel hub motor becomes as a generator when the rider brakes. The braking energy is recuperated, i.e. it is converted into electrical energy and stored in the smart ebike’s lithium-ion battery.

Image Credits: © Daimler & screenshot of video above

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Japanese Retail Investors Fund ADB Clean Energy Projects

Posted: 20 May 2012 07:03 AM PDT


Hokusai’s “Great Wave”

Looming expiration of key renewable energy production and investment tax credits in the U.S. and reduction of Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs) in leading European markets has industry participants searching for alternative means of financing clean, renewable energy projects and installations. There are signs that there’s healthy demand on the part of retail and professional private sector investors, particularly in Japan, in helping finance the transition to clean, renewable energy.

This past week the Asian Development Bank (ADB) sold $339 million worth of a multi-currency series of Clean Energy bonds through Japan-based Nomura International to help finance its renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in the Asia-Pacific region.

Interest rates and bond yields have been very low in Japan for decades, and Japanese investment banks have been successful in selling bonds denominated in higher-yielding foreign currencies to Japan’s retail investors. Through Nomura, ADB last week sold Australian $15.3 million of Clean Energy bonds with 4-year maturities, Brazilian real 147 million of 3-year bonds and Turkish lira 452 million of 3-year bonds.

Key Players in Developing Markets for Clean Energy Finance

Supranational financial institutions such as the World Bank and its regional counterparts have played formative, critical roles in establishing new markets for financial assets that fund their economic and social development initiatives.

ADB exceeded its 2013 goal of making $2 billion a year in clean energy investments in the Asia-Pacific region last year. Its total clean energy investment portfolio totaled some $2.1 billion as of year-end 2011.

Last week’s clean energy bond issue was the second for ADB. In September 2010, ADB raised some $232 million of investment capital via its inaugural Clean Energy bond issue.

“The healthy sale of the Clean Energy bonds shows a clear desire among Japanese investors to see funds committed to clean energy projects that will help improve the environment but ensure sustainable growth in the region,” ADB treasurer Thierry de Longuemar commented upon the successful inaugural Clean Energy bond sale.

Like last week’s sale, ADB’s first series of Clean Energy bonds was denominated in a range of currencies and sold to Japanese retail investors. Four tranches of bonds were sold: 4-year Australian dollar bonds; 7-year Brazilian real bonds; and 7-year Turkish lira bonds. HSBC Securities (Japan) was the lead underwriter, while a syndicate of more than 20 investment banks participated in selling them.

Clean Energy Transition Hinges on Developments in Asia

Rapid industrialization and population growth make Asian countries pivotal, key players in making a successful transition from carbon-based to renewable, clean energy economies. It’s demand from much faster growing developing economies that’s driving up fossil fuel use, carbon dioxide (CO2) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, increasing the risks and costs of accelerating environmental degradation and climate change.

Though per-capita energy consumption in developed economies is orders of magnitude higher than that in even the fastest growing developing countries, fossil fuel demand in industrialized countries is leveling off and even declining. Energy efficiency rates in developed countries is also far higher in developed countries as compared to their developing counterparts.

“Asia needs to meet its growing energy needs in ways that don’t pollute the air we breathe or water we drink and to do that, there needs to be more investment in clean energy projects,” ADB Treasurer Mikio Kashiwagi stated upon last week’s bond sale. “The Clean Energy Bonds provide a way for investors to direct funding to clean energy projects.”

Asia accounted for about 27% of worldwide energy consumption as of 2007, and that percentage is on the rise. It’s expected to surpass 40% by 2050, according to ADB, as the region’s population grows and economies and disposable incomes rise. Even as economic development continues at a rapid pace, some 700 million people in Asia still do not have access modern sources of electricity, however, ADB notes.

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Power Play — German Energy Revolution Video

Posted: 20 May 2012 07:00 AM PDT


The German village Schönau forced the grid operator to sell its local grid to them decades ago. Now, that village has become a renewable energy leader. As you can see in the video below, it’s a major producer of renewable energy. One of the pioneers there also has a wicked little electric vehicle that’s a must see.

The video also features the village of Feldheim, reportedly the first of many German villages that have gone 100% renewable for their electricity. The village, unlike many, however, is completely independent from the national grid.

Before watching the video though, Renewable International’s Craig Morris makes some important comments on translation and feed-in tariffs:

The video is not, however, without its problems. For instance, the German word “Förderung” is repeatedly translated as “subsidy,” which properly translates into German as “Subvention,” not Förderung, which more properly means support or simply funding. The Germans avoid calling feed-in tariffs “subsidies” for good reason – they are not subsidies. Rather, feed-in tariffs specify a minimum price that utilities must pay producers of green power. Similar government-mandated pricing exists in many countries for a wide range of products and services – from books to medicine.

Furthermore, one homeowner is quoted as saying that his return on his solar roof is 2-3 percent, which is particularly low for Germany, where the ROI is closer to 5-7 percent.

Nonetheless, the video is highly recommended and very well done

OK, and here, at last, is the video:

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10 Most Bikeable Cities in the US… Probably

Posted: 20 May 2012 05:30 AM PDT

WalkScore, at least within city planning circles, is famous. It developed a system for ranking the walkability of cities, neighborhoods, and streets, and gave access to countless people to evaluate their area and work to improve it. WalkScore later branched to rank transit systems. And it has, of course, gone further and ranked the green transport option that probably excites the most people — bicycling. Of course, the crew at WalkScore includes a few bikers:


Of course, developing a ranking system for such modes of transport is difficult — different assumptions can give you wildly different results. Nonetheless, I think WalkScore has done quite a good job of it, based on my experiences biking in various US cities, the methodology WalkScore used, and my experience focusing on this topic in graduate school and professionally.

But to the rankings…. Here’s WalkScore’s Top 10 ranking (Beta):


And here’s a little more info on the methodology used:

Bike Score provides a 0-100 rating of the bikeability of a location based on the availability of bike infrastructure (lanes and trails), the hilliness of the area, destinations and road connectivity, and the number of bike commuters.

The Bike Score for a city is then calculated by applying the Bike Score algorithm block-by-block throughout the city and weighting the scores by population density. Read the methodology details.

The Bike Score methodology was developed in collaboration with Professor Meghan Winters at Simon Fraser University and Professors Michael Brauer and Kay Teschke at the University of British Columbia under a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Bicycle trips in 2011 were more than double what they were in 2009. Hopefully, as more cities approach the bikeability of these 10 cities, and these cities improve their bikeability, that number will double again very soon.

Sources: WalkScore blog/WalkScore/Streetsblog

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Solar iPad Case from Wireless NRG (Actually Powers Your iPad)

Posted: 20 May 2012 05:00 AM PDT

I just wrote about a solar-powered iPad case and keyboard from Logitech on Friday. But, apparently, Logitech isn’t the only one entering this market. Wireless NRG has also released a solar-powered iPad case — the KudoCase. However, one important difference is that the KudoCase actually powers your iPad, while the Logitech one only powers the keyboard.


“The case is made of a hard, biodegradable corn-based plastic and features solar panels on the front cover that generate energy from indoor and outdoor light sources,” Megan Treacy of TreeHugger notes. “The solar panels charge the case’s built-in battery, which in turn slowly trickles energy to your iPad, topping it off and letting it go up to 10 days before it needs to be recharged (based on two hours of use per day).”

And, the KudoCase can also charge other devices via its USB port (see above).


One more nifty feature: if you can’t find your iPad, you can just whistle and it will beep (of course, you have to know how to whistle for that).

The current price is $189.95 and the case comes in black, gray, green, pink, and blue. Although, currently, it seems that every color is out of stock.

What do you think? Are you sold? Going to buy yourself a KudoCase as soon as they are in stock again?

Images: © Wireless NRG

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1,000 MW of Wind Farm Projects Acquired in BC

Posted: 20 May 2012 04:30 AM PDT

Four sites in coastal British Columbia with early-stage wind development assets have been acquired by Alterra Power Corp, a renewable energy firm. The four sites are located on Banks Island, Porcher Island, McCauley Island, and north Vancouver Island. The sellers were from Bay Energy Limited and they will receive payments when the wind farms are operating. They will also get shares in Alterra.

“This transaction further positions us to play a major role in B.C.’s clean energy future. We look forward to advancing and ultimately building these wind projects as a part of the continued growth of Alterra and British Columbia,” said John Carson, Alterra’s Chief Executive Officer. (Source:

Construction at the sites could be several years away, and power purchasing agreements still need to be signed with British Columbia Hydro & Power Authority.

Alterra Power Corp. operates a number of river hydro facilities and British Columbia’s largest wind farm. Dokie is their wind power facility, employing 48 Vestas V90 wind turbines with a generating capacity of about 73 MW. It was built over 13 months and cost $228 million. This project could be expanded to a capacity of 156 MW, as plans currently have determined. The company also operates two geothermal plants in Iceland and one in Nevada.

If you are wondering where some of the four new sites are, Banks Island is over five hundred miles north of Vancouver, and McCauley Island is just east of Banks; Porcher Island is about twenty miles north of Banks; and all these sites are south of Prince Rupert. This area is known for its natural beauty and wildlife. Salmon fishing, in particular, is one of the main draws for visitors.

Image Credit: Alterra Power, Dokie Wind Farm

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Wind Energy Rocks, But at an Important Crossroads (VIDEO)

Posted: 20 May 2012 04:00 AM PDT


Wind energy is a big economic driver, as our readers know. It’s also a huge and growing source of electricity in many places now, as you know. But it’s under serious threat from an extreme branch of one political party. This terrific video below from Peter Sinclair, his “Renewable Energy Solution of the Month” video, puts all this out there in a wonderful format that I wish I had more skills in — video.

As always, Peter has found some excellent clips, quotes, stats, images, and more. And, as always, he’s put them together in an excellent sequence and style. Anyway, enough of the text(!), here’s the video:

Source: Climate Denial Crock of the Week

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