BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- If squeezing into a train or sitting in traffic during rush hour is wearing thin, consider commuting on fewer wheels.Gas prices are rising, up 11 cents a gallon from a year ago and $1.10 from December 2008. So even "green" cars, such as the Toyota ( TM) Prius or the upcoming Chevrolet Volt, are still costly -- even without accounting for their premium purchase prices. As a result, motorcycles, scooters and bicycles are looking like bargains of the century. The number of registered motorcycles and scooters in the U.S. jumped from 3.8 million in 1997 to 7.1 million three years ago, with annual sales revving up from 260,000 to 885,000 in the same period, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Meanwhile, the National Bicycle Dealers Association says the U.S. adult cycle industry took in $5.6 billion last year with 10.2 million bikes sold. That recession-depressed total is down from a peak of $6.1 billion from 14 million bikes sold in 2005, but contributed to the 38.1 million Americans who rode a bike six times or more in 2009, according to the National Sporting Goods Association. With the National Bicycle Dealers Association finding that 10% of those riders are commuters, bicycle-buying patterns have shifted as well, with the commuter-favored hybrid/cross bike rising from 15% of the bicycle market in 2006 to 20% last year. If you'd like to acknowledge the Tour de France by playing Lance Armstrong during your commute or turn your daily trip into a Roman holiday or summer in Sturgis, S.D., on a scooter or motorcycle, here are nine ways to get started: Bicycles Trek Alliant: A standard seven-speed with a standard rear rack or front basket and a chain guard so your pants don't get chewed, the Alliant is a workday workhorse. The $539 Alliant lacks the internal gears, carbon-drive belt (bye-bye, chain) and rubber top-tube side bumpers of its upscale stablemate -- the $1,149 Soho commuter bike -- but its lightweight frame and matching full fenders in the front and rear will keep both the sweat and the slush off your back during rush hour.
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