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Cargo trikes nudge delivery trucks in Cambridge, Mass.

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"We're getting trucks off the road, that's one of our goals," says Brown. "Each time we make a delivery, we demonstrate ... that there's a better way – a system that is less expensive, better for their products, better for the environment, and for their community."

Actually there are many goals for this windmill tilter. An encounter in an Amsterdam coffee shop in 2005 – in which a local man regaled him with stories about his nation's bicycle culture, a place where politicians and even the queen ride regularly – set the wheels in motion.

The gentleman bluntly said the US had made a "bad habit" out of driving cars too much – when bicycling was so much more pleasant, Brown recalls.

An expert in helping people leave bad habits, he began pondering how he might help America quit its addiction to the "automobile habit." He might have a chance, he reasoned, if he could demonstrate for a capitalist society that it can be highly profitable to keep people fit, lessen dependence on oil, and help the environment.

Research led him to a British company, Cycles Maximus, that makes commercial trikes used by the government to deliver the Royal Mail. One of their trikes' key features is an electric-assist. It allows even diminutive riders to haul 800 pounds up hill – and zip away from a stop at the pace of a car. It doesn't replace pedaling: the driver must pedal for the assist to work.

That effort is a key point for Brown. Whether delivering pies, chocolates, organic produce, or green building products, NAP's ultimate motive is to show people bicycles are a great way to stay fit, as well as break the internal-combustion stranglehold.

"It's almost like cars are the sea within which we live and we're so attached to them, it's so habitual," he says. "We are trying to lead the way, to set an example about how to get away from cars altogether."

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