State Should Subsidize E-Bike Purchases – Streetsblog New York Metropolis
Because the pandemic broke out in March, we’ve witnessed a nationwide surge in bike sales as previous patterns of transportation have been upended. New York Metropolis has skilled its personal “bike growth”: at a Metropolis Council listening to in New York Metropolis earlier this month, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg testified that weekend bike ridership is up 57 p.c over final yr and weekday ridership up 26% (exceptional on condition that solely 10 p.c of employees have been commuting to the workplace as of last month). Alongside conventional bicycles, e-bikes — bicycles with built-in electrical motors — have additionally elevated in reputation, with reported year-over-year sales doubling.
Transportation in New York State accounts for 36 p.c of our greenhouse fuel emissions. If we’re going to meet the objectives enshrined within the landmark climate bill handed by our state legislature final yr (which commits the state to an 85 p.c discount in greenhouse fuel emissions by 2050), we have to broaden the scope of our efforts to shift New Yorkers away from fossil-fuel powered automobiles.
To construct on the momentum of the bike growth and work towards our local weather objectives, Meeting Member Robert Carroll, co-author of this op-ed, launched, A10974, which might broaden New York State’s current electrical automobile rebate program, Drive Clean, to cowl e-bikes. The present Drive Clear program presents a direct, point-of-sale rebate of as much as $2,000 to consumers of electrical vehicles. A10974 would enable the state to supply the same rebate for the acquisition of e-bikes, protecting 50 p.c of the acquisition value with a most rebate quantity of $1,100.
By providing a rebate, we will remake the present electrical subsidy program right into a extra progressive model of itself, bringing into the fold an much more reasonably priced and sustainable type of transportation with further advantages.
A sustainable and extra inclusive transportation various
World wide, cities want to bicycles, e-bikes, and investments in biking infrastructure to get residents and employees again on the transfer – and to make sure that after we emerge from this pandemic, it received’t be to traffic-clogged streets.
Analysis has proven that e-bikes may be extraordinarily efficient in changing journeys historically made by automobile. Research from Europe, the place e-bike subsidies are extra frequent and adoption charges larger, have proven that 35-50 percent of e-bike journeys exchange automobile journeys.
Nearer to dwelling, in response to the most recent National Household Travel Survey, 76.8 p.c of automobile journeys within the U.S. are 10 miles or shorter, placing these journeys squarely throughout the vary of an e-bike. In reality, in a survey of e-bike owners in North America, the typical distance of respondents’ final three journeys was 9.3 miles, and practically 65 p.c of respondents said that changing automobile journeys was a principal cause for getting an e-bike.
Owners of e-bikes report having the ability to experience additional, extra typically, and with larger ease, and to hold extra cargo than homeowners of conventional bikes. In consequence, they rapidly change into the first mode of transit for utilitarian journeys, like commutes and errands. With their comparative ease of use, e-bikes signify a possibility for segments of the inhabitants affected by boundaries to conventional bike driving, notably these with bodily limitations. E-bikes additionally present prolonged mobility for individuals who don’t or can’t drive vehicles, or who dwell in areas that aren’t but properly served by public transportation.
Deliver rebates throughout the attain of extra New Yorkers
Nearly all of New York Metropolis residents don’t personal a automobile, and due to this fact can’t profit from the present rebate program. New Yorkers who’re out there for a brand new car will uncover that the typical base value of one of many 40 electric car models eligible underneath the Drive Clear program is $51,984. Even after benefiting from federal and state rebates, this leaves electrical vehicles, many marketed by producers as luxurious fashions, exterior the attain of most New Yorkers.
In distinction, among the hottest e-bikes vary from $1,100 to $8,000 in price — a fraction of the price of an electrical automobile. Nonetheless, in response to a policy brief revealed by the UC Davis Institute of Transportation, “e-bike prices are one of many strongest boundaries to adoption.” Our rebate will make e-bikes far more reasonably priced for individuals who want them. And, as a result of the New York State Vitality Analysis and Improvement Authority program is already funded, it received’t require any new price range to supply an instantaneous influence.
An e-bike rebate is a logical growth of the Drive Clear program. We discover ourselves at an inflection level, approaching the heels of the legalization of e-bikes this previous yr and the decarbonization mandate of the state local weather invoice handed in 2019. As our underfunded public transportation techniques pressure underneath the stress of working throughout a pandemic, some New Yorkers line up in entrance of their native bike store, whereas others file into neighboring automobile dealerships. With this invoice, New York can select to incentivize the adoption of a broader set of low-carbon mobility choices over the fossil-fuel powered establishment.
There’s far more to be completed to handle the non-financial boundaries to biking, from over-policing to lack of infrastructure. This is only one of many steps in the direction of a cleaner, extra accessible transportation system — and we should always take it.
Robert Carroll (on Twitter: @bobby4brooklyn) represents the forty fourth Meeting District within the state Meeting. Michael Francoeur (@mjfrancoeur) is a member of the Ecosocialist Working Group of NYC-Democratic Socialists of America and resident of Decrease Manhattan.