Lots of folks are leaning toward the idea of purchasing an e-bike. For running neighborhood errands or rolling into work, hopping on an e-bike offers some noteworthy advantages. No pumping gas. It’s easy on the environment. Perhaps a financial incentive offers an additional nudge. Throughout the United States and some other parts of the world, a variety of rebates, low-interest loans, and other incentives add to the appeal of e-bikes as an environmentally — and financially — preferable vehicle.
Electric bikes — e-bikes for short — allow users to pedal when they want and switch to onboard electric power assist if they prefer. That worthy feature is a big attraction for some potential users. For each mile traveled via e-bike instead of a conventional gas-powered vehicle, the lower the traveler’s transportation carbon footprint.
Various local governments and electricity providers issue rebates with purchases of eligible e-bikes. Here are a couple of examples:
Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) in Oregon offers its account holders a $300 rebate for purchasing an eligible e-bike. The program launched in April 2022 and as of this writing, about 780 rebates have been issued, according to Juan Serpa Muñoz, who manages EWEB’s electric mobility programs. “Due to popularity … we have made it an official program and increased the number of rebates per account to two,” Munoz said.
Denver established a point-of-sale rebate and issued vouchers that reduced the price of e-bikes at participating shops. Residents snapped them up. In 2023, the program is expected to relaunch. For the 2022 program, regular rebates for Denver residents were $400, and $1,200 for residents who met designated income thresholds, according to Michael Salisbury, a transportation administrator with the Denver sustainability office. An extra $500 rebate was offered for an electric cargo bike, designed for bulky loads or passengers. “On average,” Salisbury said, “Denver residents have saved 51% off the cost of their e-bikes as part of this program.”
Proposed Tax Incentives
A proposal introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would provide a federal tax incentive for purchasing an e-bike. The E-BIKE Act (Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment Act) would allow taxpayers with eligible purchases to reduce what they owe by 30% off the price of the bike, up to $1,500, with adjustments for previous credits.
In the state of Washington, lawmakers are working on a different type of tax incentive. If approved, e-bike purchases and other eligible equipment would be exempt from sales tax. The proposed legislation states: “… encouraging citizens to own and use electric bicycles for commuting can replace light-duty passenger vehicles and thus reduce congestion, local air pollution, and global carbon pollution while enhancing citizens’ health and saving commuters money.”
Other E-Bike Incentives
Low-interest loans, lending libraries for the free use of e-bikes, and programs that pay per mile of e-bike travel are among the array of incentives for purchasing and using e-bikes.
E-Bike Incentive Programs in North America, published by Portland State University (PSU), provides information on dozens of programs, including some for Canadian residents. It’s handy for organizations, government officials, and environmental advocates interested in establishing or supporting an incentive program. It’s also useful for e-bike shoppers, says John MacArthur of PSU Transportation Research and Education Center.
Recommendations for E-Bike Shoppers
- Try out different types of e-bikes to ensure you’re purchasing a style that suits you, MacArthur suggested. There are a wide variety of styles, including e-bikes designed for transporting packages or passengers.
- Determine if your utility provider, employer, state, or local government offers a financial incentive for purchasing or using an e-bike.
- Read the rules for your e-bike rebates and financial incentives. Some rebates require purchases from participating dealers and aren’t valid for online purchases, MacArthur said.
Environmental advocates and e-bike enthusiasts say incentives are especially useful to make e-bikes more affordable. “Having an incentive breaks down [a financial] barrier and gets more people thinking about using an e-bike,” MacArthur says.
PeopleForBikes, an advocacy and trade organization, issues its support for federal tax incentives in an article on its website:
“An all-in approach to reducing carbon emissions must recognize the power electric bicycles have to take cars off the road while keeping people moving, active, and connected to their communities,” the article states. The article quotes PeopleForBikes president Jenn Dice: “Incentivizing electric bicycles makes them a competitive transportation option for more Americans and supports a national effort to lower carbon emissions.”