“I will appreciate anyone who wants to contribute in the Eco Ride discussion” is the last phrase in the piece of Fatih Altunkaynak (riding around the world with wife Tugce here in the picture).
Mark Lynas in his book “The final warning: Six degrees of climate emergency” confess that his feeling as journalist, writer and activist on Ecology are turning toward the negative; it may be too late to change the degradation of the planet.
“Humans as a species are not facing extinction—not yet anyway. But advanced industrial civilisation, with its constantly increasing levels of material consumption, energy use and living standards—the system that we call modernity…is tottering”
I was reading the presentation of this book when Fatih posted as draft his Eco Riding considerations and I thought for quite a while if publish it or let it go.
In my experience, indifference is the most popular attitude when talking about ecology among mature bikers. We are indifferent, postponing the issue to future generations. Maybe young riders are changing the attitude…
For now, we stop in pick-nick or parking areas covered with garbage, we cross parks and forests dispersing our exhaust fumes and oils, we throw money for a new bike looking at the horsepower and torque numbers, we additionally spend for exhaust that are more noisy, filters that are more difficult to recycle, protections, parts and accessories produced by companies ignoring any consideration for the environment or for the workers.
A long preamble to Fatih message: maybe signs are already there that indifference will not be for long and , maybe, motorcyclists will show a way to maintain mobility and fun without waste and damages.
“Eco-Riding is one of the evaluation criteria that the Institute of Advanced Motoring (UK) lists for acquiring competence in riding – write Fatih – Personally I find this criteria quite mysterious; Eco can stand for two connected concepts: Ecological, Economical.
Let me describe how I understand “Eco” in riding.
From a technical perspective, using the RoadCraft system, planning the ride, keeping the motorcycle in the right gear, the right pace and the right position contributes to do less or minimum harm to the machine. And this riding can be called “economical”. But what about the ecological part?
The ecosystem is the place where we live together on land on the air and on the sea: animals, plants, rocks, waters. Consciousness about the environment grows, not as fast as the attack of human invasion; we try to plan our behaviour and actions to preserve the planet for today and future joy.
Respect of the environment, for bikers, starts with the selection of an efficient engine wisely designed to fulfil the individual needs.
Unless for the ones living for profession in a racing suit , it is difficult to justify the need of a motorcycle with more than 80-90 horse powers. Focusing on production of road-bikes with better fuel economy and applying the same rules of efficiency and ecology in designing the factories, would be a good step toward Eco Riding. But the race to more horsepower dominates the industry and it is left to us to make our sport an Eco Riding.
Here some points that I offer for discussion:
- Plan your ride to consumes less resources, both for environment and for you.
- Be respectful to eco-system you are crossing . Produce less noise, less risks for humans and living creatures, respect the stop-areas, use recyclable products, dispose of liquids and parts with attention.
- Control speed avoiding useless accelerations and frequent use of brakes.
- Give to each ride should an objective, without polluting and consuming energies for no reason.
If you can combine a well-chosen motorcycle with a well-planned ride, you will not only save the environment better on each mile you take but also sustain for the future the use of motorcycle and the pleasure of riding.
Respect of nature is a more complicated issue for off-road riding. Each mile we take into nature literally narrows down the circle where the animals feel safe; every single tyre rolled over a grassland is destroying some species: Sliding and jumping on forest can satisfy our macho ego but we need to START thinking about the impact on the environment and the negative image that we, motorcyclists, project.
I said that these points were offered for discussion and I can hear many of you saying, “Why will we ride then?”
For me, the answer is clear: a new objective is needed.
We need to ride with focus on improving our skills AND our mindset/ behaviour toward the environment. The inner voice questioning “Am I a competent rider” MUST NOW ADD “Am I contributing to protect and improve the environment?”
Everybody can contribute in different forms: Clubs and Groups can plan to re-forest an area and then plan rides there to take care of what was planted. We can introduce environmental awareness in every training moment, we can organize rides to visit areas and clean them or just collect funds for NGO operating for the good of the Planet and so on.
This is what I understand from an Eco-Ride. It is not all about gears, it is about us, the nature, the bike, the ideas born from riding.
It is time to give back what we have taken so far. Definetely more…
NOTE: some reading on the subject Our Final Warning: Six Degrees of Climate Emergency by Mark Lynas – The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert – No Immediate Danger: Volume One of Carbon Ideologies by William T. Vollmann – The future by Al Gore