To Moped Or Not To Moped…

Reader Contribution by Aly Van Dyke

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past five years (which, admittedly, becomes more enticing everyday), you’ve probably seen a moped cruising around your city streets. As a college student, I encounter/dodge at least five every day on campus. The scariest part is that you can hear them coming before you see them, and I unfailingly always look for them in the wrong direction.

This European vehicle started to hit U.S. streets fairly recently, and on the surface, mopeds seem to be a promising move toward less gasoline consumption and CO2 emissions — I’ve certainly coveted them on days they don’t run me over. But I’ve always wondered whether or not mopeds really are better for the environment, so I did some research.

Turns out, there are plenty of moped Web sites that herald mopeds as a new alternative form of transportation that reduces the rider’s carbon footprint and dependence on oil. While I think the idea of mopeds requiring less gasoline is pretty indisputable, the carbon footprint aspect is a tad more ambiguous.

From what I’ve found, there have only been two studies on the environmental impact of mopeds as compared to the emissions of conventional cars – and the results weren’t so promising.

In a study at the University of Denmark, mopeds were found to contribute more to Denmark’s pollution than typical cars. The results show that two-wheelers emit high amounts of hydrocarbon, carbon monoxide and particulate matter. The study also indicated that using fuel with ethanol makes insignificant change in the amount of emissions.

However, like I said, this was essentially the only information I’ve found on the subject, so I’m not really sure what to think.

Have you heard something I haven’t? What do you think of mopeds? Let me know below.