Awaiting Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature, $10 million for incentives to buy electric bicycles have been reportedly added to the state budget bill. It’s included in a planned investment of $425 million in the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, which is part of nearly $1 billion in investments in clean vehicles, including trucks and transit and school buses.
Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath reportedly told the California Bicycle Coalition that “making e-bikes more affordable is one of the most effective ways to get Californians out of their cars and reduce emissions.” It’s been previously reported that in order for the state to meet its climate goals, people must drive less, even if they’re electric. $10 million could pay for thousands of e-bikes.
“I’m thrilled that the full funding I requested for purchase incentives, education, and training is included in the budget we approved,” she reportedly said. “This program represents a priority shift in the right direction and, once implemented, will help folks from all backgrounds choose a healthier, happier way to get around.”
Introduced by Boerner Horvath, AB 117 would have focused on giving e-bike incentives to low-income people, who not only tend to be more burdened with bad air in their communities, but are likely to have a harder time coming up with the money to buy e-bikes. However, all equity rules were stripped from the current budget bill.
Per California’s clean climate goals, the argument has been that since everyone needs to switch from gas-powered vehicles to zero emission vehicles sooner than later, incentives and rebates should be more broadly available to everyone.
“The state had an opportunity to prioritize equity by targeting these e-bike incentives to those who would benefit the most: low-income participants,” Román Partida-López, legal counsel working on transportation equity at the Greenlining Institute, reportedly said. “However, the decision to do away with the equity language demonstrates that equity continues to be a talking point, and not a practice.” He further said that the state has not learned from past experiences on incentive programs that don’t have equity, which will only end up benefiting higher-income consumers who don’t need an incentive to purchase e-bikes in the first place.
The goals of the rebates and e-bike incentives are to “encourage the earliest adoption of zero emission vehicles, encourage a sustainable market, and seek to reach the state’s goal of five million zero emission vehicles by 2030,” according to the bill. Most of the clean vehicle programs, including Clean Cars for All, are run by the Air Resources Board.
Dave Snyder, executive director of CalBike, reportedly pointed out that California’s has mainly focused its efforts on electric cars, but that e-bikes are in fact the “cleanest” EV. “E-bikes can be the centerpiece of California’s strategy to replace gas-powered car trips to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while also advancing equity, promoting public health, reducing traffic, and helping working families save money,” he reportedly said.
In fact, bikes are 10 times more efficient in the effort to lower emissions than electric vehicles, and e-bikes have more potential to dramatically change transportation. Most trips made by people in California are short – according to CalBike, a full 60% of all trips are six miles long or less. Electric bicycles can easily replace those trips.
People who know this have been buying e-bikes at a tremendous rate. The market research firm NPD Group said sales of e-bikes grew 1455 in 2020 compared to 2019, outpacing sales of all bikes, which were up 65%. In Los Angeles, there’s a new Electric Metro Bike available in Downtown and Central LA. “The pedal-assisted, electric bikes expand opportunities for riders to complete their first/last mile connections from farther distances with less effort required to pedal,” the website reads. Riders can unlock the Electric Metro Bikes for $1 and ride for $1.75 every 30 minutes.