$10 million e-bike affordability program included in California budget

CalBike is thrilled to announce that legislators approved a $10 million e-bike incentive program in next year’s state budget. Funded as part of the state’s campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, the program will help thousands of Californians get access to e-bikes to replace car trips. Bikes eligible will include bikes “designed for people with disabilities; utility bicycles for carrying equipment or passengers, including children; and folding bicycles.”

CalBike Executive Director Dave Snyder said, “E-Bikes are a great climate investment not just because they don’t emit carbon dioxide, but because thousands of people will learn how safe and fun it can be to replace short car trips with bike trips.”

CalBike, joined by more than 80 allied organizations across the state, submitted a letter of support for Assembly member Tasha Boerner Horvath’s request for a budget allocation to implement the proposed e-bike incentive program. 

“Making e-bikes more affordable is one of the most effective ways to get Californians out of their cars and reduce emissions,” said Assembly member Boerner Horvath. “I’m thrilled that the full funding I requested for purchase incentives, education, and training is included in the budget we approved. 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.”

“E-bikes are a key alternative to the automobile for short trips and everyday errands,” said Assembly member Richard Bloom. “Advanced technology and broad availability are making E-bikes more accessible every day. This funding will provide an incentive that will reduce both traffic congestion and pollution. I am elated that I could play a part in making clean e-bikes more accessible to every Californian.”

The budget language includes:

Electric Bicycle Incentives Project, no later than July 1, 2022, to provide financial incentives for purchasing electric bicycles. Up to 10 percent of the total funding for this purpose is available to support related programs such as safety education programs. Electric bicycles eligible for the incentives include, but are not limited to, those designed for people with disabilities; utility bicycles for carrying equipment or passengers, including children; and folding bicycles.In the 2023–24 fiscal year, the board shall report to the Legislature on the progress and outcomes of this program, including: (A) the number of rebates awarded, (B) the location of sales for which rebates were awarded, and (C) the estimated climate impact of the program, including estimated greenhouse gases abated.

“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,” said Dave Snyder, executive director of CalBike. “Until now, California has focused its efforts on electric cars. This new program breaks that funding dam and begins investing in a technology that is a known carbon crusher, E-bikes. E-bikes are the cleanest EV.” 

Californians use their cars mostly for short trips, 60% of all trips are six miles or less. Electric bicycles can easily replace those trips. Electric bicycle users take children to school, haul hundreds of pounds of equipment or groceries, and travel long distances  and over steep hills, without breaking a sweat.

But electric bicycles are not nearly as widespread as they should be because they are  expensive. Safe electric bikes of respectable durability cost from $2,000 to $5,000 depending on your need.

The Electric Bicycle Incentives Project incentive will enable the switch, simultaneously serving California’s VMT reduction goals and improving the economic security of the recipient. California families burdened with the costs of car ownership can save money by owning an electric bike.