Published on April 23rd, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Bicycles — Cleantech?

April 23rd, 2012 by  

What is the purpose of cleantech and our coverage of it? There are many purposes, of course, but I’d say some of the top things on the list are addressing global warming, improving human health, reducing human suffering, increasing energy independence, creating a more democratic energy system, reducing inequality, and improving the economy.

Now, aside from cleantech, there are a few other things that stand out as helping with all or most of the above — some are related to food and some are related to transportation and urban design. While I don’t think it makes sense for us to get into the food topics much here, there’s one transportation and urban design topic that often comes to mind as a potential sector of relevance for CleanTechnica — I have a feeling you can guess what that is (bicycling, of course).

While we don’t post on bicycling much here, we do post on high-tech bikes, new electric bikes, and electric vehicles of other sorts. It always seems a bit odd, though, to think that we ‘can’ cover hi-tech and electric bikes but not normal bikes. Why not post on conventional bicycles, as well? Presumably, they’re not cleantech (I’ve never seen them mentioned in any definition of cleantech). But in the context of the purpose of this site and cleantech, as just discussed above, and since I don’t think it makes sense to just cover hi-tech and electric bikes and vehicles but not conventional bicycles (widely considered the most energy-efficient mode of commonly used transportation), I think it’s about time we include ‘low-tech’ bikes within our content jurisdiction,… as well as the more high-tech bikes we already cover from time to time (like those with cool LED lights).

One might be opposed to this idea if they thought cleantech was just about replacing dirty tech and that bicycling wasn’t replacing dirty tech trips made by automobiles, but it is…. Bicycling is growing at a very rapid pace, similar to solar power. Additionally, as Katie Omberg of the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) recently noted, bicycling is increasingly being viewed as a key component of a different lifestyle (not just a recreational activity) — a cleaner, healthier, cooler lifestyle. She shared a few recent ads that featured bicycling as such in a post on the LAB blog; I’ll close with two of those and one more along those lines to get the mood of this new focus going a bit:

(And if you want to read a bit more along the lines of this post, check out this 10 benefits of bicycling post.)

More posts along the lines of what I’m thinking about:

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

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  • Nick Bentley

    As someone who has bought less than one tank of guess since last October, thanks almost entirely to my bike and bike-friendly policies of my city, and thereby reduced my carbon footprint more than perhaps any other single change in my life, I strongly support the idea that bikes should be considered cleantech. And judging from the changes in my blood pressure, healthtech as well.

    • Thanks. With your vote, it is now officially included! (We just need 3 votes, right? :D) In all seriousness, though, yeah, i see no reason why it shouldn’t be included. And if i were writing about healthtech, you know it would be covered! 😀

  • Parth

    A bit off topic, but where can one buy such LED bikes? Or are the leds a sort of DIY project?

    • here’s one option:

      i think the ones in the video are from Revolights (, which has this note under its Store tab:

      Revolights for Sale Soon – June 2012

      We’re currently in the lab putting the finishing touches on the revolights bike lighting system. We’re expecting them to be ready for purchase here in late June 2012 for $220.

      Follow our blog , twitter,
      or facebook to track the progress. Be the first to light up your city!

  • jh

    Bicycles are dangerously outdated technology

  • owgriswo

    I’d think of it this way – bike manufacturers are always innovating, pushing hard for the next super-light material, efficient gears, ergonomic tools, etc. Therein lies the “tech.” And the clean is obvious, except for the mining of metals needed to build the bike. Those LED bikes are cool, but if you’re plugging them into a socket, you’re burning coal.

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