Congestion, pollution, obesity: some American colleges feel these problems are important enough to warrant some out-of-the-box solutions. One of those solutions is paying students to ride their bikes instead of driving.

Stanford spiffs employees and students who agree to give up car commuting up to $282 a year. At Ripon College in Wisconsin, freshmen who don't bring a car to campus are given a free high-quality bike, lock and helmet. The University of New England has a similar program.

Other colleges and universities are setting up bike borrowing programs, so students can grab and go without the burden of ownership. On some campuses, pedicabs also provide convenient transportation around the quad.

Many cities are also climbing on board, such as Washington, D.C., which recently launched a Smart Bike program. The recently passed TARP legislation also included, oddly, incentives for individuals and companies to encourage bike commuting.

Winter bicycling, while challenging, is still practical if you prepare properly and know the strategies. The Gear Junkie has a nice post about dealing with the season on two wheels.

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