Riding a bicycle is not only good for you but, it's also great for the environment: it's pollution free and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
One litre of petrol produces 2.3kg of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), the main gas responsible for the greenhouse effect; but for each kilometre cycled instead of driven, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by up to one third of a kilogram.
Cycling 10km each way to work saves 1.3 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year
The Cycling Promotion Fund, produced a factsheet in 2007 outlining the environmental benefits of cycling (http://www.cyclingpromotion.com.au/images/stories/factsheets/02_TheEnvironmentalBenefitsOfCycling.pdf)
Greenhouse gas emissions
About half the greenhouse gas emissions produced by an average Australian household each year are from transport. Cycling is one way a household can significantly reduce its contribution to the pollution that causes climate change.
Cars produce an average of 0.3 kg of CO2 per km travelled. A cyclist emits negligible greenhouse or other pollution, so for each kilometre you ride your bike instead of driving, you are saving approximately 0.3 kg of CO2. This is equivalent to the energy from running a 60 watt incandescent light globe for close to 5 hours. Using bicycles to replace short car trips and city driving gives the greatest savings in emissions. Stop-start driving and short trips (where engines do not properly warm-up), result in fuel being burnt less efficiently and a higher level of emissions.
Passenger cars are our cities' biggest producers of carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, sulphur oxides, ozone-forming substances, hydrocarbons and fine particulates. The interiors of new cars give off formaldehyde and other contaminants linked to cancer, birth defects, brain and nerve damage, and long term injury to the lungs and breathing passages.
In Australia it is estimated that in a single year, air pollution from motor vehicles causes between 900 and 2,000 early deaths and between 900 and 4,500 cases of bronchitis, cardiovascular and respiratory disease, costing between $1.5 and $3.8 billion.
Air pollution also harms the environment by restricting plant photosynthesis, damaging leaves and adversely affecting the yield of some crops.
Motor vehicles also produce other pollutants like oil and petrol residues, which enter the stormwater system and are a major source of waterway and ocean pollution.
Every time you cycle instead of driving, you significantly reduce emissions of pollutants and toxins into our environment. There is also evidence that as a cyclist, you breathe in less, not more pollution.