“E-bikes can slay those hills, and cruise at 20 miles an hour or faster on level ground. You can carry a change of clothes, make-up, a briefcase or big purse, and lunch box in their convenient side racks. With e-bikes, weight doesn’t really matter.”
Incentivizing E-Bikes Would Be Money Well Spent — Voice of San Diego 5/10/21
A recent study found that subsidies for electric bikes are more cost-effective than electric car incentives at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from private cars. Yet very few programs to incentivize the uptake of the best climate investment exist. As lawmakers in California contemplate billions of dollars in spending to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from private cars, including $1.5 billion to subsidize electric cars, they have a chance to also support electric bikes with a bill being advanced by the Assembly.
AB 117, the E-Bike Affordability Bill (Boerner Horvath), would establish a pilot program to incentivize the purchase of electric bicycles as a means of reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT), reducing air, water, and noise pollution, and helping Californians get more exercise. To implement the program, legislators must allocate $10 million in the budget being negotiated among the capital’s leaders this month.
What problem/issue would the bill address?
California’s climate action plan calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, in part by reducing vehicular petroleum use by 50% renewable electricity. A potential reduction can be achieved by transitioning towards more efficient transport modes, including e-bikes.
What would the bill do?
AB 117 would add incentives for purchasing e-bikes as a project eligible for funding under the Air Quality Improvement Program (AQIP). The bill would require the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to establish and implement, until January 1, 2028, the Electric Bicycle Incentive Project to provide incentives for purchases of e-bikes.
California Capitol Watch: E-Bike Incentive Bill Would Help Improve Air Quality (and Physical Fitness) — Davis Vanguard 5/10/21
“If California is serious about tackling climate change, promoting e-bikes needs to be front and center,” said Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath, the bill’s author. “E-bikes help us cut out shorter car trips, reduce emissions, and move closer to our ambitious climate goals. Now is the time to make e-bikes affordable for all Californians.”
“Compared to EVs, e-bikes are carbon crushers. This fact adds urgency to the effort to help communities move away from car dependence and its terrible impacts,” said Dave Snyder, Executive Director of the California Bicycle Coalition, the sponsor of the E-Bike Affordability Act. “If California’s climate investments are supposed to prioritize solutions that have additional benefits, then this is a no-brainer. Investing in biking makes people healthier and happier, improves traffic safety, and reduces traffic congestion.”
The study focused on the greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts of subsidies for electric bikes, battery-electric cars, and plug-in hybrid electric cars in Oregon. It found that e-bike subsidies, like those in CalBike’s proposed $10M E-Bike Affordability Program, were the most cost-effective way to reduce GHG emissions.
Even with rebates, most Californians can’t afford electric cars. Fewer than 1% of vehicles registered in California today are all-electric. The E-Bike Affordability Program provides purchase incentives targeted at low-income residents, putting zero-emissions transportation within reach for many more Californians. Plus, e-bikes plug into a regular wall outlet and cost about $0.01 per mile to operate — no need for charging stations.
“Electric bicycles (e-bikes) have been found to offer a promising solution to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) impact of a region’s passenger transportation system….The literature shows that despite having slightly higher lifecycle emissions than conventional bicycles, privately owned e-bikes emit far less than other motorized modes.”
From The E-Bike Potential: Estimating regional e-bike impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, Published in Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, October 2020