The Complete Impact of Bicycle Use: Analyzing the Environmental Impact and Initiative of the Bicycle Industry

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Johnson, Rebecca
Kodama, Alice
Willensky, Regina


Gallagher, Deborah

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Bicycles are commonly considered a tool for environmental solutions. Increasing ridership reduces fossil fuel consumption, eases traffic congestion, and improves public health by reducing risks associated with obesity (Bikes Belong; Hall, 2012). While these impacts are undeniably important to create a more sustainable society, they fail to bring up an important question: are bicycles produced sustainably? If they are not, increasingly strict environmental regulations on substances in manufacturing, waste water discharge, and solid waste disposal, along with the rising cost of energy may cause supply chain disruption through shut downs of non-compliant suppliers and impacts on the cost of shipping. The companies that prosper will be ones that proactively work with their suppliers to ensure these risks are mitigated. The goal of this report was to quantitatively analyze the sustainability of manufacturing processes used to produce Specialized Bicycle Component’s bicycles and to qualitatively determine the current state of interest for sustainably made bikes. A life cycle assessment (LCA) was performed to quantify the impact of a Specialized Roubaix 56cm frameset, a Specialized Allez 56cm frameset, a DT Swiss R24 Spline wheelset, and a SRAM PC 1071 bicycle chain. The Outdoor Industry Association Equipment Index was piloted to assess Specialized as a brand and the two framesets considered. Finally, a consumer survey and a media analysis were conducted to evaluate progress within the industry and hypothesize consumer perceptions.





Johnson, Rebecca, Alice Kodama and Regina Willensky (2014). The Complete Impact of Bicycle Use: Analyzing the Environmental Impact and Initiative of the Bicycle Industry. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

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