Examining e-Bike Rebates in California

Benefits of e-bicycling have motivated many cities and countries in Europe to incentivize e-bicycling through a wide variety of intervention programs. Until recently, similar incentives have been scant in the U.S. In 2019, California based SB 400 was signed into law which allowed air districts to include e-bikes in the Clean Cars for All program giving low income households the ability to scrap an old car for a subsidized purchase of one or more e-bikes. Furthermore, bills in California (AB 2667) and New York (A10974) were introduced in 2020 to provide rebates or point of sale discounts for e-bikes. While both those bills were unsuccessful, similar bills are expected to be introduced in 2021. Additionally, a federal bill was recently introduced titled the “Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment (E-BIKE) Act” with a tax credit of 30% of an e-bike purchase price indicating that interest in incentivizing e-bikes is growing. At the same time as these state and federal bills have been introduced, more local e-bike incentive programs have emerged across the country, most notably three programs starting in 2020 and 2021 in California by Contra Costa County, Redwood Coast Energy Authority, and Peninsula Clean Energy.

This project will evaluate three e-bike rebate programs for their effects on increasing bicycling and decreasing car use. In addition, the researchers will conduct a high-level evaluation of the costs and benefits of each program. These evaluations are the primary purpose of this project and will include the following tasks: (a) collaborating with program managers on designing and revising transportation surveys; (b) analyze existing survey data about program participants; (c) analyze program data and costs; and (d) reporting the evaluations, including comparisons of different program designs and participant groups to help improve future programs. The secondary purpose of this project is to design a framework for evaluating e-bike incentive programs more broadly. Since the researchers have not yet had the opportunity to examine other incentive types (e.g., lending, leasing, etc.), their goal for the framework is to learn from the evaluations of the rebate programs to help inform the evaluation process of other program types.

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