Barbara Pope bought an electric bike in September, 2013 after developed fibromyalgia. The former gymnastics coach says even short rides had became too physically demanding.

"Not to be able to go out with your family because you're too tired all the time, not being able to set an example for your children of how to be in good shape — you feel bad because you can't set a good example" says the Maple Ridge, B.C. resident.

Now her electric bike, which provides assistance with a motor, has enabled the mother of three to continue riding with her children.

"It's given me a lot more freedom to be able to ride with my family. It was a wonderful gift...because it was giving me back my mobility"

E-bike sales surging

Electric bikes have surged in popularity. A recent study by Navigant Research predicts 38 million bikes will be sold in 2020.

Ryan Sweeney, a road bike specialist at JV Bike in Vancouver, has seen significant increase in the last two years.

"This has been due to the fact that other companies have now come in to the e-bike market.  This has increased awareness", says Sweeney.

Sweeney estimates 50 per cent of e-bike customers at JV Bike are looking for "a form of active recovery" in the face of health problems. The other half of his customers intend to use the e-bikes for commuting.

Although e-bikes are often criticized by cyclists who argue they reduce the physical benefit of cycling, Barbara's husband Alex Pope, an avid racer who plans to take on the Van Isle 1200 in June, says, "it's all about the right mode for the individual".

 Catch Michelle Eliot with "On the Move", a column on commuter life, Tuesdays at 6:50 a.m. PT on The Early Edition, CBC Radio One 88.1 FM / 690 AM