The Senate’s E-BIKE Act might make electrical bikes so much cheaper
A invoice that will supply People a refundable tax credit score on the acquisition of a brand new electrical bicycle was simply launched within the Senate by Ed Markey (D-MA) and Brian Schatz (D-HI). The invoice is named the Electrical Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Surroundings, or E-BIKE Act for brief, and it’s the companion invoice to 1 launched within the Home of Representatives earlier this year.
E-bikes are dearer than regular bikes, usually costing anyplace from $1,000 to $8,000 for among the extra high-end fashions. However additionally they have the potential to exchange automotive journeys for lots of people, with a latest examine discovering that if 15 % of automotive journeys had been made by e-bike, carbon emissions would drop by 12 percent.
This afternoon, I performed a short interview with Senator Schatz over textual content message to get a way of the laws’s objectives, its possibilities in Congress, and whether or not he himself would ever think about shopping for an e-bike. (He stated no, however I believe I obtained him to rethink.)
“The concept is easy,” Schatz stated, “the electrification of transportation isn’t just about automobiles, it’s about each strategy to get round.”
At its core, the invoice is about accessibility, the senator stated. Extra folks must be driving e-bikes than simply those that can afford them. Driving is already extremely backed throughout the nation. We construct low-cost — usually free — areas for parking, we put money into highways, drivers don’t pay for congestion or CO2 emissions, and zoning legal guidelines and taxes favor sprawl. We have to begin accommodating bikes — and particularly e-bikes — if we wish extra folks to change to greener types of transportation.
“The invoice makes a clear different extra accessible to extra folks,” Schatz stated. “E-bikes make a lot of sense for working folks, younger folks, and others who both can’t afford or don’t desire a automotive.”
Very similar to the Home invoice, Schatz and Markey’s laws would supply People a refundable tax credit score price 30 % of a brand new e-bike’s buy worth, capped at $1,500. All three e-bike courses could be eligible for the tax credit score, however bikes with motors extra highly effective than 750W wouldn’t. The credit score would even be absolutely refundable, which might enable lower-income people to say it.
A standard chorus you hear from critics of this laws is that individuals gained’t swap to bikes with out safer infrastructure to assist it. Protected bike lanes are nonetheless briefly provide within the US, and it’s unclear whether or not a surge in demand for e-bikes would essentially result in higher coverage selections on the native stage.
Schatz stated there must be a “main infusion of bodily infrastructure for bike lanes and protected streets” for this invoice to have the fascinating final result, which is extra folks switching from automobiles to e-bikes. There’s $20 billion in President Biden’s infrastructure proposal for protected road enhancements, which embody bike lanes. However whether or not that cash survives within the ultimate deal — if there’s a ultimate deal — stays to be seen.
“I’m optimistic,” Schatz stated in regards to the potential passage of the E-BIKE Act, “however this total bundle will face a number of near-death experiences earlier than it turns into legislation. We plan to get it via within the coming bundle, but when we don’t, we are going to preserve pushing.”
The Home model of the invoice has 21 co-sponsors — all Democrats — whereas the Senate model is simply now making the rounds. However Schatz stated he doesn’t suppose will probably be a tricky promote together with his colleagues.
“We anticipate that we will construct momentum for this,” he stated. “It’s a type of uncommon concepts that’s each revolutionary and noncontroversial.”
And whereas Schatz stated he’s solely tried driving an e-bike as soon as, whereas on trip, and doesn’t have any speedy plans to purchase one for himself, he would rethink, given his newly acquired place as an advocate for this mode of transportation.
Capital Bikeshare in Washington, DC, has a lot of pedal-assist e-bikes in rotation. Simply sayin’.