Consider this: Bicycles are really efficient. Fully 99 percent of the energy a person applies to the pedals is converted to forward motion. If we converted the calories a bicyclist consumes to the energy equivalent in gasoline, we could say that a bicycle gets about 500 miles per gallon.
Consider that a bicyclist can travel 400% of a walking pace while using the same energy as a walker and produces 1/10th the carbon dioxide of our most efficient cars would when driving the same distance and speed.
This is why a human-powered bicycle is considered to be the most efficient transportation technology on the planet. But don’t tell that to someone trying to pedal up a steep hill.
This might explain why bicycles are popular means of personal transportation in low, flat countries such as Holland, Denmark and why they are crucial for last-mile freight transport in flat places such as Beijing.
This might explain why it’s an uphill battle to get people elsewhere to adopt the most efficient transportation method ever invented.
All of this is about to change: Researchers at MIT developed what they call the Copenhagen Wheel which attaches to any ordinary bicycle as a back wheel. The Copenhagen wheel gathers and stores the energy normally lost when a cyclist is coasting or going downhill.
Then it automatically detects when the cyclist is going uphill and applies a boost via a battery powered electric motor.
It might be just the boost we need to increase the adoption of this efficient technology.