gollum123 writes "An accidental transportation upheaval began in China, where an estimated 120 million electric bicycles now hum along the roads, up from a few thousand in the 1990s. They are replacing traditional bikes and motorcycles at a rapid clip and, in many cases, allowing people to put off the switch to cars. The booming Chinese electric-bike industry is spurring worldwide interest and impressive sales in India, Europe, and the US. China is exporting many bikes, and Western manufacturers are also copying the Chinese trend to produce models of their own. From virtually nothing a decade ago, electric bikes have become an $11 billion global industry. In the Netherlands, a third of the money spent on bicycles last year went to electric-powered models. Industry experts predict similar growth elsewhere in Europe, especially in Germany, France, and Italy, as rising interest in cycling coincides with an aging population. India had virtually no sales until two years ago, but its nascent market is fast expanding and could eclipse Europe's in the next year. In China, electric bicycles have evolved into bigger machines that resemble Vespa scooters. These larger models are causing headaches for global transportation planners. They cannot decide whether to embrace them as a green form of transportation, or ban them as a safety hazard. Some cities are studying the halfway measure of banning them from bicycle lanes while permitting them on streets."