Green Is Good When Green Is Green

The Sanyo Eneloop eclectic bicycle won a Best of Innovations award for eco-design and sustainability at the 2010 International CES sponsored by the Consumer Electronic Association.

Let’s be clear about something first: I have nothing against electric bicycles. They serve a purpose for people who want or need them.

But, really, giving a green award to an electric bicycle is like giving a green award to a Hummer over a Prius. An electric bicycle is less green than a regular bicycle.

Now I understand we’re talking about a consumer electronics show here and that, well, to be in the show a gadget must use electricity and that if one is going to give a green award for a vehicle that uses electricity, then, well, giving it to this bicycle is a good thing, I suppose.

Just don’t expect me to praise this contraption as green. What it is is useful for those who need electric assistance. And, from the looks of it, the Eneloop bicycle has the kinds of features that I think a good utility bicycle ought to have (hoo-ray for that!). So, really, this appears to me to be an excellent choice for someone who wants or needs an electric-assist utility bicycle.

But green? Naaaaaaaa. I think we ought to guard that term a bit more jealously.

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Comments 8

  1. Coy wrote:

    I own a clunky Mongoose electric assist bike I bought about 3 years ago from WalMart for less than $300 and I love it! It’s great for trips of it’s range of 20 miles or less. It makes me giggle while going up hills! šŸ™‚

    Sometime back, I saw an article (I think from Australia) which said that electric assist bicycles were the MOST EFFICIENT MOTORIZED VEHICLES in the world, period!!! The article was calling for international standardization of specs and legal requirements, if I remember correctly.

    Posted 15 Jan 2010 at 2:06 pm
  2. Jonathan wrote:

    I prefer their neck gaiter to the bicycle. What in tarnation is “two wheel drive for added stability?”

    Posted 15 Jan 2010 at 2:18 pm
  3. Mighk wrote:

    Indeed, when I attended a “Green Expo” here in Orlando a year or so back, all the transport-related stuff was e-bikes. Not a regular bike to be found.

    It’s the all-too-common failure to think systemically. Bicycles also offer health; fewer hazardous materials to dispose of at the end of the useful life; they’re more reliable; more versatile…

    Posted 15 Jan 2010 at 2:23 pm
  4. robert wrote:

    I’m more and more convinced that the average joe needs an electric assist bike to even go a few miles.

    Posted 15 Jan 2010 at 2:38 pm
  5. Andy Cline wrote:

    Robert… Taken from the perspective of your column, one could make the argument that an electric bicycle is green if it gets someone out of a car.

    Posted 15 Jan 2010 at 3:07 pm
  6. Steve A wrote:

    Electric bikes are the only bikes it is legal to ride on the streets of Hunter’s Creek Village in Texas.

    If I were unable to ride my bike to work, an electric bike would be an alternative I’d consider very seriously.

    Posted 15 Jan 2010 at 10:43 pm
  7. Andy Cline wrote:

    Steve… Wow. Whyt are they the only legal bicycles there? And, as I indicated, these bicycles are great for anyone who needs or wants one. My complaint is only with the idea that they are green.

    Posted 16 Jan 2010 at 8:13 am
  8. Cordelia wrote:

    Personally, I just like it that you call it an “eclectic bicycle” at the start of your post. Indeed. We need more of those… As for an electric bicycle winning a green award, I’m surprised even though it is CES; but given the components of contemporary electronics, maybe it really was the least toxic thing at the expo (and “least toxic” does not equal “green”). Still, if one needed an electric bike, it’s a nice one.

    Posted 21 Jan 2010 at 12:52 am