Apr 5, 2023 - News

E-bike rebates making way through Congress

Illustration of a bike wheel that becomes electrified.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

There's a renewed effort afoot in the U.S. Congress to subsidize the cost of e-bikes nationwide on the heels of successful rebate programs in Denver and elsewhere, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick reports.

Why it matters: E-bikes, which use an electric battery and motor to help riders go faster and farther while exerting far less physical effort, are a promising alternative to cars and other internal combustion vehicles for cleaner trips around town.

  • Yet they're often shockingly expensive. Many well-reviewed models cost over $1,000, while high-end versions go for more than twice that.
  • Cargo e-bikes — probably the best option for replacing many car trips, especially to the grocery store — can cost several thousand dollars.

Driving the news: Four Democratic representatives and one Democratic senator recently introduced bills in their respective chambers that would create a new tax credit for consumer e-bike purchases.

  • As written, the proposals would cover up to 30% of an e-bike's cost, with credits maxing out at $1,500 for e-bikes costing up to $8,000.
  • Single filers making less than $150,000 or joint filers making less than $300,000 would be eligible for the full credit.

Yes, but: Past efforts to establish a national e-bike tax credit have fallen short.

  • Moreover, whether e-bikes make sense for a particular person's transit needs depends on myriad factors, ranging from their aptitude for biking in general to the weather and biking infrastructure where they live.

What they're saying: "Make e-bikes more accessible to more people, and we're going to see a lot more people riding e-bikes, especially people who aren't already riding bikes," BikeHouston executive director Joe Cutrufo told Axios. "But as e-bike trips supplant more and more car trips, we need our elected leaders to get serious about safe bikeways and secure bike parking."

The bottom line: A little bit of cash toward an e-bike won't change America's car-happy culture overnight — but the e-bike curious among us would no doubt welcome a little discount.

💭 Jay's thought bubble: I own an e-bike in lieu of a car, and getting around the central part of town is a breeze.

  • While going car-free in Houston sounds like a nightmare, it's doable when you splice in a few ride-shares a month — and don't mind the thrill of riding in Houston traffic.

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