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Ride a bicycle, save the planet

Avinesh Gopal In Berlin
Monday, May 22, 2017

WITH climate change affecting Earth, various things are being done globally to reduce green house gas and carbon emissions, and save energy.

One of these things include taking the public transport or riding a bicycle, especially in European countries.

Many people involved in climate change work in Germany mostly ride bicycles or use public transport.

One of them is Matthias Duwe, the head of the climate unit at Ecologic Institute in Berlin, Germany.

His colleagues Lena Donat, who is a member of the institute's legal team, and Philipp Voss, an economist with focus on climate and energy policies, also ride a bicycle to and from work.

Some would be surprised to see the head of division- climate and enviromental policy, sustainable economy - in the German Foreign Office, Thomas Meister also cycling daily in Berlin to work.

Mr Duwe, who is originally from Germany, was the director for Climate Action Network Europe in Brussels for 10 years when he was offered his current position in the institute six years ago.

"We do have a car as a family, but I hardly drive it. My wife drives it, but we don't use it that much," he said.

"In a city like Berlin, we can do without a car."

Asked about the reasons for riding a bicycle, he said: "It's a combination because of my environmental mind-set and my climate change related work.

"If I have to go far, then I prefer to go by train. Once a month I fly over to Brussels in the morning and return at night. A lot of people here in Berlin ride bicycles and a large number use public transport. One can even take their bicycles in the train to another city and they cycle there. Cycling in Berlin is relatively easy as this place is mostly flat and roads have special bicycle paths. There are a lot of bicycles in London too now."

Mr Duwe lives close to his office and cycles to work and also to attend meetings in different parts of the city even if it takes him one hour.

"Personally, i think that where you have the facilities, taking either the public transport or bicycle is better for the planet. It's also good for your health and you also save money."

Mr Duwe said keeping a car meant fuel and maintenance costs, which could make one buy a new bicycle that would last for years.

His bicycle is still going strong for the past 12 years, with some repairs and modification works that did not cost much, when compared with maintaining a car.

The bicycle has been fitted with a seat to also carry his two-year old daughter around while his seven-year-old daughter now has her own bicycle.

On the other hand, Ms Donat cycles for 10 kilometres one way to reach her workplace and covers the same distance back home.

Bicycles are a common sight in Germany, which is playing a lead role globally in the fight against climate change.

It is seen by many in this country not only as a way to avoid traffic congestions but also to save energy.

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