London – Small changes in people’s transport habits can significantly cut their carbon footprint, according to an in-depth UK study of commuting data from more than 3800 people across seven cities.
Choosing a bike over a car just once a day reduces an person’s carbon emissions from transport by 67 percent, according to research led by University of Oxford transport professor Christian Brand.
The findings mean that even if not all car trips could be substituted by bicycle trips, the potential for decreasing emissions is still extremely high.
Even if 10 percent of the population chooses to replace one car trip each day with a bike trip, overall transport emissions can be expected to be decreased by about 10 percent.
Trips for recreational purposes such as shopping or social visits which are significantly shorter, have more potential for a shift toward walking or cycling.
The research says if 20 percent of the population chooses to substitute one car trip with one trip by public transport, transport emissions on individual level would be 19 percent lower.
Habits of people in Antwerp, Barcelona, London, Rome, Vienna, Zurich, and Orebro in Sweden were tracked for the study over two years.
Participants completed almost 10,000 detailed one-day travel diaries, with more than 34,200 trips logged in total.
Some results varied across cities because of differences in climate, geography, urbanisation level and income. But most other data remained consistent across the spectrum.
The study also found that carbon emissions from cars were more than double of those from public transport. Cycling does not emit greenhouse gases, but the researchers also accounted for the emissions that arise from manufacturing and disposing of the bikes.