In a recent post, I explained how small mobility (e-bikes, scooters, etc.) gives state and local governments a much cheaper lever they can pull off to reduce emissions, with or without support from a dysfunctional federal government. As it turns out, I’m far from the only person who thinks this way, and the California Bicycle Alliance is really leading the way on this.
One of the things the group was pushing for was getting California lawmakers to give e-bikes the same public support that larger electric cars were getting. For example, one could get thousands off the purchase price of an electric vehicle (plus federal tax credits) if their income was low enough, and that helped motivate the purchase of electric vehicles. Likewise, it is difficult for many low-income Californians to purchase an e-bike, due to the additional expenses.
The idea is that e-bikes can replace many car rides, and even the cars themselves in many cases, at a fraction of the cost of an EV. Instead of helping just a few Californians buy an electric car with big spending, the group suggested spending just $10 million, which sounds like a lot to you or me, but is practically pocket change for a government as big as the California government.
There are currently no details available on how much assistance each applicant can get to help purchase an e-bike, but the goals of the program are outlined below.
Objectives of the E-Bike Affordability Program
- Help people replace car trips with e-bike trips.
- Giving priority to grants to individuals from low-income families.
- Determine eligibility for the program as individuals and families with incomes below the maximum limits set in the Clean Car Discount Scheme.
- Support programs and related benefits, such as safety education.
Providing support for a variety of electric bicycles, including, but not limited to, bicycles designed for people with disabilities; utility bikes for carrying equipment or passengers, including children; And foldable e-bikes.
- Support small local businesses and organizations, such as retail bike stores, and nonprofit organizations, including community bike stores.
- Cooperate with other government departments and agencies to enforce safeguards against fraudulent activity by sellers and buyers of e-bikes in accordance with the law.
- [to be added] Ensure that e-bikes purchased through this program meet high standards of quality and durability.
After much effort, they got the state legislature and the governor to agree to fund $10 million for the program as part of next year’s budget. This means that they will be able to start providing assistance with the purchase of e-bikes.
“Making the price of e-bikes affordable is one of the most effective ways to get Californians out of their cars and reduce emissions,” said association member Boerner Horvath. “I am pleased that the full funding I have requested for purchase incentives, education and training is included in the budget we have approved. This program represents a priority shift in the right direction and, once implemented, will help people of all backgrounds choose a healthier and happier way to commute.”
We have reached out to the Bicycle Alliance for more information for people interested in applying for assistance with purchasing an e-bike.
Why is this important
For me, living on the edge of a small town most of the time, traveling in rural areas most of the rest, bikes are more than just a game. I get entertainment, exercise, and a challenge from my e-bike, and I rarely have much of a chance to use it for transportation. The distances are too long for an e-bike to replace many of my rides.
I can definitely see how an e-bike can replace many car trips in a bigger city. Since the average American trip is less than 6 miles by car, I can see that I am generally above average. Once someone starts replacing car rides with an e-bike, a lot of good things can happen.
“E-bikes can be a cornerstone of California’s strategy to replace gas-powered car trips to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while promoting equity, promoting public health, reducing traffic and helping working families save money,” said Dave Snyder, CEO of CalBike. . So far, California has focused its efforts on electric cars. This new program breaks this funding dam and begins investing in a technology known as a carbon crusher, e-bikes. E-bikes are the cleanest EV.”
It’s easy for most of us to imagine replacing gas-powered cars with electric ones, but it’s hard to imagine just reducing the number of cars on the road. When we can do this, we not only reduce pollution and greenhouse gases, but we can make life better for people who still use cars by eliminating some of the traffic jams.
Moreover, people can have better health and save a lot of money. Sure, e-bikes are easier to ride and therefore give you less exercise than the all-spandex guy, but that compares apples to oranges. Having someone out of the car takes them from zero exercise to whatever amount they get on the e-bike, so anything is an improvement.
“E-bikes are a prime alternative to cars for short trips and everyday errands,” said association member Richard Bloom. “Advanced technology and wide availability make e-bikes more accessible every day. This funding will provide an incentive that will reduce traffic congestion and pollution. I am glad that I can play a role in making clean e-bikes accessible to all Californians.”
Comparing e-bikes with regular bikes also reveals another important point: they are able to replace more car trips for more people. Electric assist means people can go further, putting a lot of places in what seems like reasonable access. Moreover, people do not like to appear sweaty, go to work or shop. By putting in some effort, people can ride a bike and still be at their best (or near) best when they get to their destination.
With all these advantages that come at a lower cost compared to car subsidies, it is something that other countries and even local governments should seriously consider doing on their own.
Featured image by Jennifer Sensiba.