Sep 20, 2023 - News

Buying electric bikes just got more affordable in D.C.

Illustration of an electric bike with a lightning bolt on the frame.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

D.C. residents can soon get vouchers or rebates to buy and maintain electric bikes.

Why it matters: D.C. wants to make zippy e-bikes more affordable for lower-income riders as it tries to expand cycling accessibility in the city.

Driving the news: The D.C. Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the incentive program for bicycles purchased from retailers in D.C., following successful pilots in other cities.

How it works: For lower-income residents, the incentives could total $2,000 toward the purchase of a cargo e-bike and $1,500 for a standard e-bike.

  • There's also up to $300 envisioned for a replacement battery, up to $250 for annual maintenance, up to $250 for add-ons to accommodate riders with disabilities, and up to $150 for a bike lock.
  • For all other residents, the incentives are halved, which equals up to $1,000 for a cargo e-bike and $750 for a standard e-bike.

The big picture: Incentives to bring down the costs of e-bikes have been spreading nationwide.

  • E-bikes are rising in popularity due to their rechargeable batteries that assist riders when pedaling — reaching speeds up to 25 mph and easing long climbs. Plus, they're cheaper and greener than cars.
  • Denver's rebate program has helped spur adoption and slash emissions, Axios' Alayna Alvarez reports.

Zoom in: D.C.'s bill props up local bicycle shops by offering grants to train staff to become e-bike mechanics. The city is also offering $50,000 grants for businesses opening a shop selling or repairing e-bikes in Ward 7 or 8.

  • The program will have $500,000 in funding.

What's next: It is anticipated to take effect later this year. The District Department of Transportation will need to decide whether to issue the incentives as rebates or vouchers.

  • The bill's author, Charles Allen, prefers the voucher option to give residents, particularly lower-income people, purchasing power up front.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Washington D.C..


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Washington D.C. stories

No stories could be found

Washington D.C.postcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Washington D.C..


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more