Electric bikes offer cheap, sweat-free commute

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Suddenly, riding bikes is all the rage as gas prices have climbed. But would putting the pedal to the metal work for you?

USA Today reports bike-sharing programs have spread around the country from the Northeast and the West Coast to the cities in the Heartland of America. These kinds of programs are like Zipcars for bikes; you pay a subscription and then you get to check out a bike at strategically located stations, ride it to another station and drop it off. Among the states doing this are Texas, Iowa, Florida, Colorado, Illinois and Minnesota.

And then there have been other efforts around the country to create programs offering free bikes. Those typically haven’t done well. Often the bikes get stolen or fall into disrepair.

But here’s my deal: Except for a sliver of the population, most people won’t wholeheartedly embrace the bike routine. Too often, they’re worried about showing up to work all sweaty.

So the compromise might be the new electric bikes from Asia. These are traditional bikes with an electric motor assist. They allow you to travel up 15 miles per hour. You can pedal when you wish or you can use the motor assist. (Some people use the motor to go to work and then pedal going home when they don’t have to worry about working up a sweat.)

These bikes often sell for $398 at Wal-Mart when they can keep them in stock. That’s not a huge sum of money in my book to have an electric bike. I recently saw a women’s electric bike on Walmart.com for $397.54.

I think this could be a good compromise for some people instead of the sweat mobile or a car that costs too much to fuel up right now. How about for you?

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