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:

  1. Plan your ride to consumes less resources, both for environment and for you.
  2. 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.
  3. Control speed avoiding useless accelerations and frequent use of brakes.
  4. 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 LynasThe Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth KolbertNo Immediate Danger: Volume One of Carbon Ideologies by William T. VollmannThe future by Al Gore

3 thoughts on “Eco- Riding: opening the Pandora Box”
  1. Fatih’s suggestions are all right on the money, and still don’t open Pandora’s Box wide enough. As part of an aging rider generation in the developed world, I’ve had the privileged good fortune to ego-enjoy a lifetime of wind-on-the-body speed and travel pleasure. I must also admit that even my mostly on-road motorcycle is a ‘carbon guilt machine’; it may add less than a car or plane, but is still a net polluter every time I ride for pure pleasure. My ego won’t give it up yet, even as I’ll sooner than later choose an electric bike, part of a necessary and desirable shift toward a more equitable and sustainable energy based economy. We can all grow into these personal and social reality changes. As Fatih says, “It is time to give back what we have taken so far. Definitely more…” and definitely sooner.

  2. Privileged.
    A very good word. I always remember one of the established OMM members “telling off” a newer member who was speeding through the rural villages. We the Privileged ‘blatting” [ English word for being be a complete twat [see Urban Dictionary] and riding too bloody fast ] through a village is just not playing Cricket.
    So I’m Privileged.
    I try to Offset my guilt. Everything in moderation. Including moderation.
    Look after your bike . Keep it longer. Don’t always ride like a Twat.
    But as Paolo taught me and I use on my email strap line – Riding is a Way of Thinking.
    I wonder if it our nearness to Death that bikers , be it it top end racers or Sunday tea shop commuters , seem to have a balanced approach to Living.
    In London. I see young men [mostly] , not British born [mostly] on Learner restricted bikes [always] , rushing around delivering food. The Privileged abusing the Under Privileged.
    Faith is right on her 4 points and “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.”

  3. Thinking the amount of riders compared to drivers all around the world, it is obvious that motorcycle industry in not the most guilty one in polluting the environment. Whenever I take a walk in the forest, i see garbage everywhere. 3 drunk idiots can pollute environment more than a motorcycle riding in the forest once a week. But this doesn’t justify riding in the forest ruthlessly. We are a bunch of thinking humans, which have a chance to contribute in positive change, while most are not even thinking or feeling responsible. Besides, the earth we call doesn’t really care about how much it gets warmer each day, it has been turning around it’s own axis, and slowing each day. It persisted without humans or any other living things. This means that the ones who should care the most are the ones who are benefiting from earth the most. So thank you for feeling responsible and sharing your ideas. I want to keep this idea rolling and fed by everyone’s comment.

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