Are Unicycles the Ultimate Form of Green Transportation?
Right now (October 2022) crude oil prices are north of $88 dollars per barrel. That trickles down to gasoline prices. Even in areas of the country with “affordable” fuel, pump-side prices are over $3.50 per gallon. Some areas in the country are balking at gasoline prices ranging well over $4 (with some states paying as much as $5!).
It seems like now is as good a time as any to bring up green transportation, if only to save some of your hard-earned money from the endless pit that is your gas tank.
And it also seems like unicycles might just offer the greenest option - not to mention that you can get a surprisingly good workout learning to ride.
Let’s talk about some facts.
The One-Wheeler: An Unlikely Champion of Green Transportation
According to the Energy Information Administration (a potentially creditable source), Americans burned over 134 billion gallons of gasoline in 2021, delivering an average consumption of 369 million barrels per day.
Internal combustion engines release toxic gasses such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and other partially combusted, carcinogenic hydrocarbons.
They also release carbon dioxide, a powerful greenhouse gas that traps solar energy and raises the average overall temperature of the atmosphere.
In other words, gasoline consumption is bad for the health of the individual and the environment.
Now, in the spirit of fairness, the Energy Information Administration does not keep accurate statistics on unicycle ridership. However, we take it on good authority that the collective release of toxic emissions and greenhouse gasses arising as a direct result of one-wheeling (not only in 2021, but in every year since record-keeping began) has been an even zero.
By learning to ride a unicycle, and then using it for commuting or just getting around town, you’ll be cutting the average consumption of gasoline in the United States. Those are the facts.
But you’ll also be decreasing demand for gasoline. Don’t forget that we need to burn fuel in the supply chain just to get fuel to the pump. It’s entirely circular!
That doesn’t even take into account the vast pollution that arises as a result of global drilling and refinery operations - but we can exonerate the consumer partially from these ills.
Now, this is a bit of a stretch, but increased demand for bike lanes and trails (from unicyclists) creates less of a demand for larger, paved surfaces that decrease ground permeability and increase runoff that can contaminate not only groundwater but also watercourses. We can, however, be hopeful.
Let’s also consider the fact that you will have both of your hands freed up when you’re riding a unicycle. When you’re using your one-wheeler to get to the grocery store and back, you can carry a lot more (assuming you’re possessed of the skills!) with a unicycle than you can with a bike.
Skilled riders can even attempt to load up a backpack with goods, and then carry a grocery bag in each hand. That’s more economical than transporting them with a bike, and will give you a much better workout, too.
And how about noise pollution? Gasoline consumption, and cars and trucks that burn gasoline, don’t just pollute the air with toxic and greenhouse gasses. They’re loud and obnoxious. More cyclists will create a quieter, more peaceful world.
Vehicles also require a lot of routine maintenance which entails the use of environmentally-unfriendly treatments: think motor oil, refrigerant, transmission fluid, and so on and so forth.
Your unicycle might take a few shots of lubricating oil here and there, but nothing like what a car or truck would take. And, to be honest, if you care for your unicycle, it’ll last many years longer than a vehicle would, too.
Like a bicycle, a unicycle with a strong frame can last 30 years or even longer - a lifetime when well cared for. Bikes will need their chains replaced periodically, but most unicycles don’t even have that! How many cars have you seen on the road from 30 years ago? There is no planned obsolescence in unicycles (or bikes) and that is a much more sustainable model than the entire supply chain devoted to automotive vehicles.
All in all, it sounds like unicycles might just be the perfect green transportation solution. They produce no toxic emissions, eliminate unnecessary links from the supply chain, and are quieter. Or so we can hope!
And, if you were wondering, riding a unicycle doesn’t just benefit the environment. It benefits you!
Unicycling and Getting a Great Workout at the Same Time
The other half of healthier living arising from unicycle riding has to do with the fact that unicycles can afford their riders an excellent workout in just a short period of time.
It’s a full-body workout and your legs, core, and even upper body will be engaged in balance and correction. Most people like to keep their workouts to a half-hour slot; well, riding a unicycle for a half hour can burn about the same amount of calories as moderate jogging - and it’s a low-impact exercise, which is better for your joints, too.
It is important to note that to give you a true energy efficient (and therefore green) ride, yet one which still affords you a good workout, you must set your seat height (using the seatpost clamp) properly.
Loosen the seatpost clamp and adjust the seat height so that your knee is bent at about 5 degrees when your leg is extended. Generally, the higher the seat height (up to that point) the better. If your seat is too low, you’re just burning energy pointlessly. Remember, you want a good workout, but you still want to be relatively efficient. Burn energy, but don’t waste it.
Think of it this way. Unicycles have been called the most idiotic form of transportation. That may be true, but in this sense, working harder instead of smarter is to your advantage. Unicycles are for those that like to work hard and play hard at the same time, and unicycling is predicated on that philosophy. If that sounds like something that’s interesting to you - then you might as well hop aboard the movement.
You’ll get great workouts and cut carbon emissions at the same time. What’s not to love?
If you’re new to the world of unicycling, worry not. We carry it all, from seatpost clamps, seat tubes, crank arms, unicycle tools, to beginner unicycles and safety gear.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 678-494-4962. We’d be happy to help.