Electric Bicycle

There are few things that we TreeHuggers can say without qualification or equivocation; the sustainable world tends to operate in many shades of green, but we can all agree on a few things. One of these is quite simple: the bicycle is the best mode of transportation. Faster than walking, cleaner than riding anything with an internal combustion engine, the two-wheeled wonder might be the best invention the green world has ever seen. TreeHuggers can say this without qualms of any kind: if you want to be green, get yourself around town on a bike.

Amazingly, pedal pushers have been outselling cars for the better part of a decade; across the world, over the past seven years, more bikes have been ridden off the lot (so to speak) than cars. Added to the fact that bicycles are the world’s most energy-efficient means of transportation (it takes 35 calories to propel a bicycle a mile, versus a train or bus’ 100 calories or so, depending on the passengers, and a car’s whopping 1,860 calories), and it’s pretty tough to beat. But it gets better…

According to TreeHugger’s crystal ball, electric-assisted bikes are set to take the two-wheeled world by storm. What were once clunky, heavy, inefficient battery packs and drivetrains are becoming sleek, more powerful, and, daresay, a little bit sexy to boot. Take Schwinn’s new line [www.schwinnbike.com] of electric-assisted bikes. Probably the slickest and most smoothly integrated set of power-assisted velocipedes we’ve yet seen (can you see a battery or electric drive in the picture above?), they employ lithium polymer batteries and in-hub motors to deliver about 40 miles of range and a full recharge in four hours. As with many TreeHugger-related subjects, electric bikes of old may work great while looking a bit funky, but technologies such as this won’t go mainstream until they can blend in with a crowd of more conventional bikes. This might be the one that tips the scales.

This just scratches the surface for all the possibilities of human power and rides with two wheels; stay tuned for more on velocipedes and other tips for TreeHugger-style transportation.