The D.C. Council has passed a bill designed to get more people rolling on e-bikes.
The bill, proposed by Council member Charles Allen, was approved Tuesday in a unanimous vote.
The bill offers D.C. residents subsidies of up to $2,000 toward the purchase of e-bikes based on income. The two-tiered system will provide subsidies at different levels, with greater dollar amounts available to residents who qualify for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) programs.
Ask Philip Koopman, owner of Bicycle Space in the District’s Ivy City neighborhood about e-bikes and he’ll tell you: “Electric bikes definitely make things more accessible for a lot of people.”
That includes his wife, who commutes about 6.5 miles each way to her job.
“It’s totally transformed her life,” Koopman told WTOP, explaining that his wife now tends to use her e-bike instead of driving.
The incentives in the bill are designed to open the e-bike market to those who otherwise wouldn’t consider them due to their cost. E-bikes can range in price from just over $300 for a model purchased online, to some models going for nearly $12,000.
Koopman said lots of people who come into his Ivy City shop have been eyeballing the electric options.
“I do get lots of inquiries,” he said. “And increasingly, there are better quality bikes at more affordable price points.” That includes models from big-name bike manufacturers “that they will stand behind.”
In contrast, Koopman said, it can “be difficult to get support for” some of the low-cost online options.
The legislation also includes language on maintenance of e-bikes, and would permit the D.C. Department of Transportation to issue grants to bike shops so that they can train bike mechanics.
So, bottom line, how much is the higher-quality, lower-priced option?
Koopman said, “We’re going to have decent bikes around the $1,250 level, I’d say.”
One element of the bill that Koopman said is important is a baseline safety standard for the electrical systems for e-bikes.
The details of who is eligible and how subsidy applications will be processed will fall to the District’s department of transportation — and that’s not likely to happen before 2024.
For lower-income residents, the incentives could 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, including 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 incentives could provide:
- 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, including the cost of parts and labor
- Up to $75 for a bike lock