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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Scooters and the environment - oops! Sorry mother nature!

2011 Victory King from another show.
I was watching Mythbusters the other night and watched with interest as they did a show on the environmental impact of motorcycles.

We all know that scooters and motorcycles are lighter than cars and have smaller engines.  Having less weight does increase the fuel mileage, which is why my 405 pound (dry weight)  Burgman is averaging around 65 miles per gallon.  Where as my 2002 Hyundia Elentra (dry weight of 2522 pounds) is about 25 mpg.  It therefore stands to logic as well that my Burgman puts out less CO2.  The results on the show reflected that as well.

What the Mythbusters did was to test representative cars and motorcycles from the past 30 years for fuel efficiency, CO2 emissions and the so called "smog producing" gasses.   While motorcycles beat out the cars in fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions, they failed horribly in the smog producing category.  What the show sadly did not take into consideration is that cars simply produce less "smog" than a bike is because of the various filters and other devices that are placed onto a car's engine.  These regulators can not be placed on a bike without increasing it's weight and reducing it's fuel efficiency.   It's a trade off that we will have to correct in the future by making a better bike with lower emissions, especially in Asia and Latin America where the scooter and motorcycle are one of the primary means of transportation.

Downtown Tampa
I worry about these results because I consider myself a "environmentalist" of sorts.  One of the reasons, if not the main reason, I bought my Bergie was to save money on gas.  I did consider the lower environmental impact as well when switching to two wheels instead of four.  

Living in Tampa, Florida is wonderful, I've seen so much wildlife and exotic flora here.  Having lived in one of the most cloudiest places in America for years, I hope I never take a truly sunny day for granted.  I plan on living out my days here.

Tampa however is in trouble.  Recent studies have show are air quality to be lower than cities that have a denser population.  There could be many reasons for this, a horrid lack of public transportation; the urban sprawl that affects most southern cities resulting in having to use your car more.  We live in a very warm climate as well and air conditioning is needed to keep mold down and make life bearable.  This also adds to the lower air quality.  Realizing that by riding my bike I was directly affecting the air quality in a negative way came as a bit of shock.

Somehow, as a community and as indivuals, we will have to decide what is best for us.  I am eventually going to replace my car with my scooter.  Saving money and reducing my carbon footprint.  In doing so I'm going to increase the amount of smog producing gasses into the air.  It's not an easy or fair choice but in the end it's a compromise I can hopefully live with.  At this stage in my life and with the economy the way it is...I've little choice.  I need to save money.

The next scooter or motorcycle I buy however will be much more environmentally friendly, knowing what to look for...the more data you gather, only helps make a conscious decision on the best way for you to live your life.

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