Are electric bikes the future of transportation? We tested one to find out

April 10, 2018 by  
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At first glance, it might seem like the standard bicycle doesn’t have much you could improve on. It gets you to your destination faster, provides a great workout, and doesn’t pollute the air. And, of course, once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget. However, in sprawling modern day cities—Los Angeles, we’re looking at you—bikes are sometimes less than ideal as a form of transportation. Cyclists can certainly brave the crowded streets and longer commutes, but they’re far more likely to be exhausted, or at least uncomfortable, at the end of their ride. That’s where the electric bike comes in. Electric bikes, or e-bikes, have been around for a few years, but a recent increase in popularity has thrust them into the spotlight—and for good reason. As more and more people move to urban areas, we’ll have to find new ways of creating urban mobility if we want to stop problems of traffic congestion and air pollution from becoming worse. The electric bikes provides an excellent solution to this problem: by making commutes less intensive, it serves as a viable alternative to cars and lets riders enjoy their time outside and explore their city. Related: Copenhagen now has more bikes than cars Here at Inhabitat, we decided to test out an e-bike for ourselves to see just how different it was from a standard bicycle. On a typically sunny SoCal day, I headed down to Electric Bikes LA in El Segundo, a small suburb south of LAX, and picked up a Porteur Faraday bike . The bike itself was gorgeous, painted bright white and mint green, with sleek bamboo fenders above the wheels. The battery, which can last 25 miles when fully charged, was cleverly integrated into the frame of the bike. At the very least, I thought as I wheeled the bike out the shop’s front door, I would be riding in style, and nobody would know the bike was electric. I took the e-bike to a nearby park, then started out on a rutted dirt path. At first, I found I had to pedal a little harder than usual. Electric bikes weigh more than standard bikes, though, at 40 lbs, the Faraday models are much lighter than other brands. Once steady, I reached down with my thumb and switched the motor to full speed. And even though I had read about electric bikes and what they could do, I was not at all prepared for what happened next. Imagine flooring it in a car—the way the vehicle leaps forward, the landscape on either side turning to a blur. It was a little like that, except all I had to do was pedal, and instead of going from zero to sixty, I felt the bike comfortably pull me forward as I went from zero to twenty. Even so, I let out a whoop as I shot effortlessly through the park, then slowed down with ease and turned onto the street. Once I joined traffic, I dropped the motor speed down a notch, but that didn’t stop me from outpacing the cars beside me. I even spotted a few of the drivers giving me incredulous glances as I sped past. Granted, I was on residential streets, but I could understand—it’s not often that you see a cyclist pass a car without even breaking a sweat. As I navigated around El Segundo, I toggled between speeds, testing out various combinations. The motor essentially functions as a gear shift, allowing you to pair each setting with gears one through eight. The bike itself uses a Gates carbon drive belt that not only means less long-term maintenance, but also no greasy pant legs and a quieter ride. I found that the bike shifted seamlessly based on whatever speed I desired, which allowed me to pedal less while maintaining momentum. But I knew there needed to be one more test: the hill. El Segundo’s elevation changes aren’t exactly staggering, but still, I figured getting a 40-pound electric bike up a hill might take some effort. I tried it twice, only turning on the motor the second time. The first time, I have to admit that I was huffing and puffing by the time I got to the top. The next time around, I flipped on the motor and went up two gears, and I ascended the hill in about half the time, pedaling with ease. Once I got back home, charging the bike was a simple process. The adapter is about the size of a typical laptop charger and plugs straight into the battery pack. From a completely empty battery to full charge took around two and a half hours. The verdict? Faraday’s electric bike handles and rides like a dream, and it’s easy to imagine using it to commute in L.A., or any city, really. In fact, Los Angeles is just one among many cities where it can be faster to ride a bike than drive . An electric bike isn’t exactly cheap—the average retail price in 2016 was $3,000, and Faraday’s two models go for $3,499 and $2,499—but, as an alternative to other forms of transportation, it makes sense. Faraday itself offers a 24-month financing plan that knocks the price down to $104 a month, which is about the same price as a bus or metro pass in most major cities, and far less expensive than paying for gas and insurance. Plus, you have the added benefit of appreciating and experiencing your city rather than seeing it through a car window. While the concept is still relatively new, I don’t doubt that electric bikes could be on the rise as a transportation alternative —one that’s greener, faster, and much, much more pleasant than sitting in traffic. + Faraday Bikes Photos by Angela Molina and Kimberly Keller Additional images via  Faraday Bikes

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Are electric bikes the future of transportation? We tested one to find out

Major supermarket chain is the first in the UK to remove palm oil from all its food

April 10, 2018 by  
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Over half of products in supermarkets contain palm oil , according to United Kingdom (UK) grocery store chain Iceland , and demand is contributing to deforestation . Iceland plans to do something about it by becoming the “first major UK supermarket” to eliminate palm oil from its own label products by the close of 2018. BREAKING NEWS: We're the UK's first supermarket to commit to removing #palmoil from our own label products by the end of this year! Watch here to find out why… #PalmOilAlarmCall pic.twitter.com/hfGvH2QRDW — Iceland Foods ?? (@IcelandFoods) April 10, 2018 Palm oil is one of the largest causes of deforestation in the world, according to Iceland , which specializes in frozen foods. So they plan to remove it from their own brand products. “By the end of 2018, Iceland will stop using palm oil as an ingredient in 100 percent of its own brand food production, reducing demand for palm oil by more than 500 tonnes per year,” head chef Neil Nugent said in Iceland’s video above. Iceland said Nugent is working to replace palm oil with fats and oils that aren’t destroying rainforests — The Guardian said this includes oils like vegetable or rapeseed oils. Related: UK researchers are developing an orangutan-safe alternative to palm oil Iceland quoted their managing director Richard Walker on their website as saying, “Until Iceland can guarantee palm oil is not causing rainforest destruction, we are simply saying ‘no to palm oil.’ We don’t believe this is such a thing as sustainable palm oil available to retailers, so we are giving consumers a choice about what they buy.” Deforestation is threatening many species, including the critically endangered orangutan — their population “has more than halved in the last 15 years,” according to Iceland. The World Wildlife Fund describes the animals as gardeners of the forest, “playing a vital role in seed dispersal.” They’re vulnerable in part due to their low reproductive rate — since females only give birth to one infant around every three to five years, it can take a while for the species to recover from declines in population. + Iceland Foods on Twitter + Iceland Environment Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Major supermarket chain is the first in the UK to remove palm oil from all its food

Is energy productivity the missing link for the Paris Accord?

September 27, 2016 by  
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Renewable energy often steals the spotlight for advancing sustainability, but Climate Week showed movement in another crucial area.

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Is energy productivity the missing link for the Paris Accord?

Amazon, Google and the White House team up to visualize climate risk

September 27, 2016 by  
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A new public-private climate resilience effort is using open data to double down on localized adaptation planning.

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Amazon, Google and the White House team up to visualize climate risk

INFOGRAPHIC: Spotlight on design star Philippe Starck

April 29, 2015 by  
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French design rockstar  Philippe Starck is renowed worldwide for his architectural , product , and interior designs. The son of an aircraft designer and painter, Starck grew up dismantling bicycles and other objects, displaying a sense of curiosity and creativity that would lead him to design some of the most notable landmarks in history. Some of his works include the Asahi Beer Hall (1989), the Louis ghost chair by Kartell, prefab eco-homes, wind turbines , and various other products, including those for brands such as Alessi and Tog. Check out the full-size infographic below to learn some fabulous facts about one of the wunderkinds of the design world. Read the rest of INFOGRAPHIC: Spotlight on design star Philippe Starck Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: facts about Philippe Starck , infographic , Philippe Starck , Philippe Starck facts , Philippe Starck infographic , Starck , Starck architecture , Starck design , Starck product design

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INFOGRAPHIC: Spotlight on design star Philippe Starck

Muzeiko Museum: Bulgaria’s First Kids’ Museum Set to Open in June

April 29, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Muzeiko Museum: Bulgaria’s First Kids’ Museum Set to Open in June Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: A&A Architects , bulgaria , curtain walls , energy efficient building , geothermal energy , green architecture , green roof , LED lights , Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership , LEED gold certification , museum design , Muzeiko children’s museum , Sofia

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Muzeiko Museum: Bulgaria’s First Kids’ Museum Set to Open in June

Curitiba: World Cup Brings Greenest City in the World into the Spotlight

June 25, 2014 by  
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As the eyes of the world have turned to Curitiba, Brazil with the opening of the World Cup last week, there is another story that lies in the background of the country’s eighth largest metropolis. City planners consider Curitiba’s sustainability regime as one of the earliest and most successful experiments in sustainable urban development. Though it may be overshadowed by the fanfare of the World Cup, Curitiba’s approach to alternative transit, greenspace preservation, housing and waste management have become models for cities across the globe. Read the rest of Curitiba: World Cup Brings Greenest City in the World into the Spotlight Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Bus Rapid Transit , curitiba world cup , ecological city design , environmental planning , greenest city on earth , sustainable city , urban greenspace

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Curitiba: World Cup Brings Greenest City in the World into the Spotlight

The true cost of your engagement ring

July 15, 2013 by  
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How much does that platinum band really cost? Looking beyond “blood diamonds,” precious metals also have a large environmental footprint.

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The true cost of your engagement ring

ICYMI: Energy efficiency gets shoved into the spotlight in U.S., U.K.

July 15, 2013 by  
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Our latest roundup of sustainability news: The good and bad of energy policy, how driverless cars will reshape cities, and Google's climate-skeptic misstep.

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ICYMI: Energy efficiency gets shoved into the spotlight in U.S., U.K.

Solar Power Trees Sprout at Nation’s First Net-Positive Leased Public School

May 10, 2013 by  
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Read the rest of Solar Power Trees Sprout at Nation’s First Net-Positive Leased Public School Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: First Floor K-12 , green public schools , LEED certified US schools , LEED Platinum school US , renewable energy , Sandy Grove Middle School LEED , SfL+a Architects , solar energy schools , solar panels , Solar Power , Spotlight solar , Spotlight Solar Sandy Grove        

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Solar Power Trees Sprout at Nation’s First Net-Positive Leased Public School

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