DC Council passes bill creating E-Bike Purchase Incentive Program. What is in it?
E-bike rebate programs have been done in other locations such as Denver, Colorado, and according to Ride Report’s analysis of the outcome the Denver program, “The rebates were so popular the monthly allotments were gone within minutes, ebikes were on back-order, local and national coverage was continuous, and the Governor even enacted the first official statewide ebike day.”
E-bike rebate programs are both sound economic and environmental policy that cities across the U.S. are starting to catch wind of, and now it’s the District’s turn to reap the economic and environmental benefits of an e-bike rebate program.
On September 19th, 2023, the DC Council unanimously passed Councilmember Charles Allen’s legislation to expand and encourage e-bike ridership for every District resident. The Electric Bicycle Incentive Program Amendment Act of 2023 creates an incentive program to subsidize the cost of e-bikes for riders, as well as additional support for bike shops to manage increased demand.
So what is in it? Here are some highlights:
- The bill creates an incentive program for either a voucher or rebate toward the purchase of an e-bike. Many of the details will be determined by the DC Department of Transportation (“DDOT”), including when purchases may be eligible and when residents can apply, as well as more guidance for local bicycle shops.
- The bill creates two tiers of incentives: one for residents with lower incomes who are eligible for a public benefit program like SNAP or TANF, and another available to all District residents.
- For lower-income residents, the incentive may include:
- Up to $2,000 for the purchase of a qualifying cargo e-bike
- Up to $1,500 for the purchase of a qualifying e-bike
- Up to $300 for a replacement battery
- Up to $250 for annual maintenance, to include the cost of parts and labor
- Up to $250 for e-bike or cargo e-bike parts to accommodate riders with disabilities
- Up to $150 for a bike lock
- For all other residents, the incentive may include:
- Up to $1,000 for the purchase of a qualifying cargo e-bike
- Up to $750 for the purchase of a qualifying e-bike
- Up to $150 for a replacement battery
- Up to $125 for e-bike or cargo e-bike parts to accommodate riders with disabilities
- Up to $125 for annual maintenance, to include the cost of parts and labor
- Up to $75 for a bike lock
- To anticipate increased demand, the legislation also authorizes DDOT to issue grants to bike shops to train District residents to be professional bicycle mechanics, addressing concerns from bicycle shops which have reported that staffing remains one of their biggest operational challenges.
- The bill authorizes DDOT to create a voucher system that would allow applicants to receive the value of the voucher as a discount when they purchase the bike at the store, with the District then reimbursing the retailer directly. This point-of-sale incentive ensures that cost isn’t a barrier for residents who can’t afford the full cost of an e-bike upfront.
So what’s next?
The bill goes to the Mayor for signature, then to Congress for passive review, and then DDOT will begin to implement the program. The D.C. Council has already allocated $500,000 towards the program in the FY24 budget.
Additionally, here are some next steps that WABA is aiming to do:
- Teach “how-to ride an e-bike” learn-to ride classes.
- Offer any technical or equitable community engagement advice to DDOT as they roll out the program.
- Offer residents educational information on how-to ride an e-bike.
WABA looks forward to welcoming the e-bike revolution to D.C.!