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Air Quality

Electric Bike Sales Are Booming, But Incentives Like Electric Cars Get Could Help A Lot

The silver lining for bicyclists during the coronavirus pandemic has been that the air they’ve breathed during complete lockdown has been fresher. Many of us have enjoyed a short respite in trying to avoid exhaust — due to traffic disappearing. Due to many aspects of the pandemic, many are rediscovering old roots on the bike and engaging in cycling.

The silver lining for bicyclists during the coronavirus pandemic has been that the air they’ve breathed during complete lockdown has been fresher. Many of us have enjoyed a short respite in trying to avoid exhaust — due to traffic disappearing. Due to many aspects of the pandemic, many are rediscovering old roots on the bike and engaging in cycling.

Numerous commuters do not want to rush back to shared rides on demand (Uber and Lyft), mass transit, and driving — and some cannot afford car payments any longer. Sales in all cars dropped in the USA and many other places. Less problematic zero-emission vehicles, electric vehicles, also saw their sales drop as incomes dropped.

The one thing that skyrocketed were electric bicycle sales. In fact, it became harder to find them due to the high demand. It is time to expand and reinvent our bicycle infrastructure with all those new bicycles on the paths, and roads.

Pure Air Benefits Us All

It’s time to get people out of cars

Bicycle commuter in NYC. Photo by CleanTechnica.

Jetson Electric Bicycle plugged in and charging. Photo by CleanTechnica.

Energy News Network reports that electric bicycle advocates are calling on Connecticut officials to extend the state’s rebate program to include electric bicycles. They believe that the state’s existing electric vehicle rebate program is “inequitable.” They argue that not every traveler or commuter is fairly treated, as it only applies to electric cars. Cars are economically beyond the reach of too many middle- to lower-income households.

Clean air benefits us all, and supporting such change is vital planning. These are affordable solutions for commuters, and provide fresher air for all.

Nearly 80 organizations, businesses, and people have signed a letter to Connecticut state officials seeking rebates for e-bikes. Those hardy bicycles capable of long-distance commutes use an electric motor to boost the rider’s pedal force. One can exercise, or coast, or both. Electric bicycles are definitely a way to avoid using an automobile. Helpful electric bicycle commuters are now arguing for a fair solution.

The funds are there to share with e-bicyclists, as the Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate Program (CHEAPR) has $3 million in annual funding. People do choose e-bicycles for commutes. I’ve done it. I’ve bicycled living car free. For many, commuting does not seem possible on a regular bicycle, but they want to save money and help clear the air, and the e-bicycle makes that doable.

Energy News Network quotes a leader pushing for the funds, “Spending that money may be a challenge this year with car sales depressed, and that makes the addition of e-bike rebates particularly timely, said Anthony Cherolis, an avid cyclist and coordinator of Transport Hartford, which is leading the effort.”

“I could see an e-bike rebate from $200 to $500 as a game-changer for the equity and mobility of low-income households, particularly in Connecticut’s large cities,” said Cherolis, who noted that about a third of households in Hartford do not own a car. “This would also open up so many more car-free commuting options in the Connecticut metro area to those hesitant, or unable, to commit to the physicality of a bicycle commute.”

The requests for vehicle rebates is significantly down, according to the CHEAPR statistics page. Fewer than half of last year’s total at the end of April, only 205 rebates had been issued. The figure last year was 509.

PeopleForBikes reports, along with many electric bicycle stores, that e-bike sales nationally for the month of March were up 58% over March of last year.

The board is going to meet later this month to discuss changes to the program. “Cherolis said he has emailed the board about his interest in e-bike rebates and will present the letter from supporters at the next meeting.” The interest is certainly there, the pandemic also revived interest in maintaining stronger constitutional health.

An e-bike is flexible and comforting, allowing an easy alternative to cars for many purposes. One can turn on the electric assist for challenging portions of a journey.

Blix Packa electric cargo bike. Photo by Kyle Field, CleanTechnica.

If  you are thinking about family, and safety with an e-bike, there are a variety of options. Cargo e-bicycles are even better for someone pulling groceries and family. There are compact cargo e-bicycles, as well. The nice thing about some e-bikes is that one can simply use the handle to add the electric component. Keeping one’s balance can be established by practicing slowly in a quiet area to set the harmony of cyclist and battery power.

If you still want the cardio, it’s there with e-biking as much as you wish. Of the three e-bicycles I have been traveling on, the GenZe offers the most in terms of exercise. Even on the full electric assist, I find myself pumping and circulating my blood more than with the others.

The New Genze e-201

GenZe electric assist bicycle app.

GenZe electric assist bicycle. Photo by CleanTechnica.

Bike lanes need to become more common and safer as well. ENN reports that some experts think there’s big potential for e-bikes to replace a major piece of New England’s transit system. It can be done, and it’s always useful to revisit Copenhagen’s examples. 4 years ago I covered “Bicyclists Surpass Drivers In Copenhagen!

Copenhagen (and Denmark in general) changed due to the energy crisis of the 1970s. They have a wealth of bicyclists that make the city and country a better place to live. 

Low income solutions need to be up front in legislature, to complete a social and environmental circle of change. A good example is Burlington’s nonprofit bike shop Old Spokes Home. It recently enabled new measures to help make e-bikes more accessible for low-income customers. “In addition to the utility rebates, Old Spokes Home is subsidizing e-bike purchases further for low-income customers. Additionally, eligible customers can get no-interest loans from Opportunities Credit Union to cover the cost. Both of those programs are funded by grants.”

Still, state incentives for electric bikes, like electric cars get, would be a big help.

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Written By

Cynthia Shahan started writing after previously doing research and publishing work on natural birth practices. (Several unrelated publications) She is a licensed health care provider. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education, mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings born with spiritual insights and ethics beyond this world. (She was able to advance more in this way led by her children.)

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