Go Go Gadget.....
The New York Times has an article about the increasing popularity of electric assisted bicycles. Originally from China, these bikes are finding an audience here in the U.S. The article talks about the pros and cons of these new "hybrids". Are they powered vehicles and hence have to be licensed for the road or are they bicycles eligible for bicycle paths. In a world of legal definitions, resolving what these vehicles are classified is are key to their adoption.
There are a lot of concerns that the larger versions of these bikes are safety hazards, going at speeds of 30 miles per hour. These are legitimate concerns, and it makes sense to pass legislation that permits their use on the roads under the same conditions are regular bicycles (which with effort can reach such speed).
The reason for supporting such bikes is that they address the major issues of both bicycles and cars for the mass market. Pedaling a bicycle with effort can make you sweaty, and we as a society don't permit such odiferous side effects. This reduces the exertion that individuals have to make. The other dilemma is that most people drive more car than they need. I know I do. My car can hold five passengers, but mostly drives just myself. A electric bicycle is an inexpensive alternative to provide transport for individuals at an individual scale. It also serves to address that most errands are less than five miles in distance.
So while the article talks about the weaknesses of electric bicycles, they serve as the perfect additional vehicle for the family. Anything that can offset the use of large cars will net positive and who knows some might even "upgrade" to a completely people powered experience later.