E-bikes are expensive, but this congressman wants to make them more affordable

Electrical bikes can remodel the way in which we dwell by changing automotive journeys, encouraging cities to enhance their infrastructure, and reducing the quantity of carbon we emit into the ambiance. However e-bikes will probably be transformational provided that folks can afford them — and as of at this time, most e-bikes are prohibitively costly.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) needs to alter this. The 72-year-old congressman from Portland has launched a invoice to assist make e-bikes cheaper, and thus extra accessible. Together with Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Blumenauer helped writer the Electrical Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Atmosphere (E-BIKE) Act, which might give a refundable tax credit score of 30 p.c on the acquisition of a brand new e-bike.

“The underside line right here is to completely capitalize on the ability of bicycles to essentially remodel the mobility panorama for metropolitan areas,” Blumenauer informed The Verge. “It’s vital to have the total vary [of transportation modes], and the e-bike is one that actually has captured some folks’s creativeness and has enabled extra folks to take part.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer is the co-author of a invoice that might incentive e-bike purchases.
Picture courtesy of Rep. Earl Blumenauer

The credit score, which might be capped at $1,500, is barely relevant on purchases of a brand new e-bike that prices lower than $8,000. (There are a couple of luxurious cargo bikes that exceed that quantity however not many.) All three e-bike lessons could be eligible for the tax credit score, however bikes with motors extra highly effective than 750W wouldn’t. The credit score would even be absolutely refundable, which the congressman argues would permit lower-income people to say the credit score.

You may solely get the tax credit score as soon as each three years as a person or twice for a joint-return couple shopping for two. The invoice additionally requires the IRS to submit a report after two years to grasp the distribution of the credit score by earnings tax bracket and alter for fairness sooner or later.

Blumenauer is an unsurprising advocate for this laws. He based Congress’ casual Bike Caucus in 1996; since then, it’s grown to over 100 members. The homepage for the Bike Caucus options the congressman in a nerdy ensemble of shorts, knee-high socks, a long-sleeved oxford and bowtie, and a motorcycle helmet. However whereas he doesn’t personal an e-bike himself, he does steadily commute to work on a non-electric Trek street bike.

The E-BIKE Act could appear as if it was impressed by the bike increase that emerged from the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, however Blumenauer stated it was within the works earlier than COVID-19 upended the whole lot. In the course of the lockdown, folks searching for new methods to train or for a brand new approach to get round that wasn’t public transportation flocked to bicycles, with gross sales within the US reaching document ranges.

Blumenauer stated he’s thrilled so many individuals have found biking however that coverage adjustments will probably be wanted to make sure that folks don’t ditch their two-wheeled autos for four-wheeled ones as quickly because the pandemic begins to dissipate.

“The federal authorities has not finished a ok job investing within the security, not simply of cyclists however pedestrians as nicely,” he stated. “Far disproportionate accidents and deaths by cyclists and pedestrians in massive measure is the results of not having the suitable infrastructure, having bike paths, having pedestrian entry, and making streets protected for folks, not simply mini speedways for automobiles.”

The impetus for the laws is about shifting folks away from automobiles to extra sustainable types of transportation, Blumenauer stated. A current examine discovered that if 15 p.c of automotive journeys have been made by e-bike, carbon emissions would drop by 12 percent. Almost 50 p.c of e-bike commute journeys changed vehicle commute journeys, according to a recent North American survey, and a extra thorough evaluation of European research showed that e-bike trips replaced car trips 47 to 76 percent of the time.

With Democrats in command of the Home, Senate, and White Home, Blumenauer expects his invoice will acquire sufficient help to cross. The shift in Washington has additionally influenced him to introduce a extra beneficiant model of a motorcycle commuter invoice that might make out there pre-tax commuter advantages much like those that drive or take public transportation to work. A earlier model of the invoice did not get by the Home Methods and Means Committee. However Blumenauer stated he’s assured each payments will get a listening to this time round.

“These are issues which have actually ripened and brought maintain,” stated Blumenauer, citing the variety of bike-share methods which have added e-bikes to their fleets. These methods ought to be designated as mass transit, making them eligible for federal funding, he added. “We’ve extra help from the general public and increasingly more help in Congress.”

A wise transfer could also be to wrap Blumenauer’s invoice in with President Joe Biden’s Construct Again Higher infrastructure proposal, which the president hopes to handle after the approval of a brand new COVID-19 rescue package deal. The Oregon Democrat stated he sees the brand new administration as a pure ally for his bike payments: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks brazenly about the necessity to make the roads protected for weak street customers, like bicyclists and pedestrians, and Biden is an avid bike owner himself.

“When is the final time you noticed Donald Trump on a motorcycle,” Blumenauer laughs.

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