E-scooter companies are reportedly requesting that Congress consider, as they begin crafting infrastructure legislation, wider streets and commuter tax credits as policymakers. As the Biden administration seeks to promote sustainability through different means of transportation, the electric scooter industry might receive a boost.
The micromobility companies have focused most of their government outreach at local and state levels, but that is changing. As Bloomberg Government reported, the consulting firm O’Keeffe Shahmoradi Strategies registered in the first quarter of 2021 to lobby on behalf of Spin, an e-scooter company that Ford Motor Co. bought in 2018.
As Brian No, the company’s head of public policy, said, Spin is pushing for federal policy because the timing is right given the Biden administration’s apparent interest. He also said he’s “cautiously optimistic” that lawmakers will consider including scooter-related legislation with the highway bill, which must be reauthorized in Sep. “What we’ve been hearing from the administration is that they do consider micromobility to be one of the pieces in terms of how we’re going to solve our infrastructure issues as well as address our climate change agenda,” No explained.
The e-cooter companies are calling for several recently introduced bills to be updated before becoming law. The bills would apply to bicycles or e-bikes, but the companies hope lawmakers will include e-scooters as well. Some of these include:
- The Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment, or E-BIKE, Act (H.R. 1019) was recently introduced to encourage the use of e-bikes through a consumer tax credit. A Bird spokesperson reportedly said they want to see that legislation broadened to include e-scooters.
- The Bicycle Commuter Act (H.R. 384) and the Bikeshare Transit Act (H.R. 382). The first would give bike commuters pre-tax commuter benefits, and the latter would make bike- and scooter-share systems eligible for federal transit dollars. These bills are a priority for Spin and for Caroline Samponaro, Lyft Inc.‘s head of transit and micro-mobility policy.
Nico Probst, director of government relations at Lime, said that the commuter benefits bill should also be altered to make e-scooters eligible. He reportedly noted that the conversations so far with members of Congress about incorporating micromobility have been encouraging, and how it’s something that likely wouldn’t have happened a few years ago. “It really tells you how far the industry and how quickly the industry has come, where scooters and e-bikes are really a topic of conversation for a broader infrastructure package,” he said.
Another big priority for e-scooter and bicycle companies is federal funding for bike lanes and widened streets. Legislation such as the Complete Streets Act would allow local entities to apply for funding to build projects including sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, and bus stops. Electric scooters and bicycles are replacing millions of trips that would be taken by cars, and transportation and tax policies need to reflect that “new reality,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), co-chair of the Congressional Bike Caucus, said in an email to Bloomberg Government.
Last year’s proposed $1.5 trillion infrastructure package from House Democrats included incentives for alternative modes of transportation and provisions to ensure that roads work for all users, including pedestrians and bicyclists.
Moreover, the micromobility industry sees one of the Biden administration’s climate goals, to install more than 500,000 electric vehicle chargers by 2030, as a big opportunity. When it comes to bike-share electrification, Lyft already has curbside real estate that could be electrified with federal funding through grants, and EV charging could follow thereafter. Spin’s No said that one key focus for the company is ensuring that local governments have the option of adding support to building micromobility hubs, or charging stations for e-scooters.
“We want to make sure that we’re not just talking about motor vehicles. We want to be brought into the fold of ongoing considerations, discussions and conversations around the need to bolster the electrification of our nation,” No reportedly said.
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