The Senate E-BIKE Act could make electric bikes much cheaper

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Ed Markey (D-MA) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) just presented a bill in the Senate that offered Americans a refundable tax credit for the purchase of a new Electric Bicycle. The bill is called the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment or E-BIKE Act for short, and is a partner bill presented in the House of Representatives. earlier this year.

Electric bikes are more expensive than regular bikes and typically cost $ 1,000 to $ 8,000 for some high-end models. But they also have the opportunity to reimburse car trips for many people, according to a recent study if 15 percent of car trips are made by electric bike, carbon emissions would be reduced by 12 percent.

This afternoon, I did a short interview with Senator Schatz in a text message to get an idea of ​​the goals of the legislation, its potential in Congress, and whether he himself is ever considering buying an e-bike. (He said no, but I think I got him to reconsider.)

“The idea is simple,” Schatz said, “electrifying traffic is not just cars, but every way to get around.”

At its core, the bill is about accessibility, the senator said. More people should ride electric bikes than just those who can afford them. Driving is already well supported throughout the country. We build cheap – often free – parking lots, invest in highways, drivers don’t pay for congestion or CO2 emissions, and zoning laws and taxes favor spread. We need to start receiving bicycles – and electric bikes in particular – if we want more people to switch to more environmentally friendly modes of transport.

“Billing makes the clean option even more readily available,” Schatz said. “Electric bikes make a lot of sense for working people, young people and others who can’t afford or don’t want a car.”

Much like Parliament’s bill, Schatz and Markey’s legislation would offer Americans a refundable tax credit worth 30 percent of the purchase price of a new e-bike, up to $ 1,500. All three categories of electric bicycles are eligible for the tax credit, but bicycles with motors above 750 W are not. The credit would also be fully repayable, which would allow low-paid people to do so.

The general abstention that you hear from critics of this legislation is that people will not switch to bicycles without safer infrastructure to support it. There is still a shortage of protected cycle paths in the United States, and it is unclear whether the increase in demand for e-bikes will necessarily lead to better policy decisions at the local level.

Schatz said the physical infrastructure for wheelchairs and safe streets needs to be a major infusion for this decline to be a desirable outcome that has more people moving from cars to electric bikes. Is $ 20 billion in President Biden’s infrastructure proposal to achieve safe street improvements that include bike paths. But whether that money survived the final deal – if there is a final deal – is still to be seen.

“I’m optimistic,” Schatz said of the possible transition to the E-BIKE law, “but this overall package will have to experience several death experiences before it becomes law. We are going to get it through in the future package, but if we don’t, we will continue.”

The parliamentary version of the bill has 21 supporters – all Democrats – while the Senate version is just doing rounds. But Schatz said he doesn’t think it would be a tough sale with his colleagues.

“We expect to be able to build momentum on this,” he said. “It’s one of the few ideas that’s both revolutionary and undeniable.”

And while Schatz said he has only tried e-bikes once on vacation and has no immediate plan to buy it for himself, he would reconsider given his recently acquired position as an advocate for this mode of transport.

Capital Bikeshare in Washington DC has several pedal-assisted e-bikes taking turns. I just said’.

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