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State Must Subsidize E-Bike Purchases

Meeting Member Robert Carroll and Michael Francoeur

For the reason that pandemic broke out in March, we’ve witnessed a nationwide surge in bike sales as outdated patterns of transportation have been upended.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 % over final yr and weekday ridership up 26% (outstanding on condition that solely 10 % of staff had been commuting to the workplace as of last month). Alongside conventional bicycles, e-bikes — bicycles with built-in electrical motors — have additionally elevated in recognition, with reported year-over-year sales doubling.

Transportation in New York State accounts for 36 % 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 % 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 present electrical automobile rebate program, Drive Clean, to cowl e-bikes. The present Drive Clear program affords a direct, point-of-sale rebate of as much as $2,000 to patrons of electrical vehicles. A10974 would enable the state to supply an identical rebate for the acquisition of e-bikes, overlaying 50 % of the acquisition worth 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 inexpensive and sustainable type of transportation with further advantages.

A sustainable and extra inclusive transportation different

All over the world, cities wish to bicycles, e-bikes, and investments in biking infrastructure to get residents and staff 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 will be extraordinarily efficient in changing journeys historically made by automobile. Research from Europe, the place e-bike subsidies are extra frequent and adoption charges increased, have proven that 35-50 percent of e-bike journeys exchange automobile journeys.

Nearer to dwelling, based on the most recent National Household Travel Survey, 76.8 % of automobile journeys within the U.S. are 10 miles or shorter, placing these journeys squarely throughout the vary of an e-bike. In actual fact, in a survey of e-bike owners in North America, the common distance of respondents’ final three journeys was 9.3 miles, and almost 65 % of respondents said that changing automobile journeys was a principal cause for purchasing an e-bike.

Owners of e-bikes report with the ability to trip additional, extra typically, and with higher ease, and to hold extra cargo than house owners of conventional bikes. Because of this, they shortly grow to be the first mode of transit for utilitarian journeys, like commutes and errands. With their comparative ease of use, e-bikes symbolize a chance for segments of the inhabitants affected by obstacles to conventional bike driving, notably these with bodily limitations. E-bikes additionally present prolonged mobility for many who don’t or can’t drive vehicles, or who reside in areas that aren’t but effectively 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 subsequently can’t profit from the present rebate program. New Yorkers who’re available in the market for a brand new automobile will uncover that the common base worth 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, a number of the hottest e-bikes vary from $1,100 to $8,000 in price — a fraction of the price of an electrical automobile. Nonetheless, based on a policy brief printed by the UC Davis Institute of Transportation, “e-bike prices are one of many strongest obstacles to adoption.” Our rebate will make e-bikes rather more inexpensive for many who want them. And, as a result of the New York State Power Analysis and Improvement Authority program is already funded, it received’t require any new price range to offer an instantaneous affect.

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 programs 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 rather more to be executed to handle the non-financial obstacles 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 must always take it.



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