Chinese drivers are seeing a new vehicle zip by on the nation's congested, smog-choked freeways: electric bicycles, Austin Ramzy writes in Time. Promoted by the government as affordable solutions to cars, so-called e-bikes are growing in popularity, offering a green solution to the country's automobile boom. About 21 million e-bikes sold there last year, compared to 9.4 million cars.
Although China has grown richer, millions of people—from police to migrant workers to pizza deliverers—still can't afford a car. A $290 e-bike, however, can trundle at 12 mph and save on gas. Analysts predict they will hit Southeast Asia and India next, followed by the bicycle-crazed Netherlands. About 200,000 are expected to sell in the US next year. "What's happening in China is sort of a clue to what the future will be," one analyst said.