E-bikes provide an affordable option for meeting climate goals
Incentives to purchase e-bikes would put zero-emission transportation within the reach of many more Californians.
By Jason Henderson, Special for CalMatters
Jason Henderson teaches urban geography at San Francisco State University, [email protected]. He is the author of “Street Fight: The Politics of Mobility in San Francisco”.
Outside an electric vehicle showroom in Sacramento last September, Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged to end sales of gasoline vehicles in California by 2035 to help meet the state’s climate goals. In May, he raised the stakes by proposing to spend $ 3.2 billion on zero-emission vehicles over the next three years.
Electric vehicles, or EVs, can be cleaner transportation in some ways compared to gasoline vehicles which increase global warming. When powered by renewable energy, electric vehicles are definitely a step in the right direction.
But in a recent article I wrote, I explained the downsides of an all-EV approach. Electric cars and trucks will lock us in private automobiles for another generation.
EV production and consumption could increase instead of reducing global demand for resources and energy, with geopolitical ramifications that we need to recognize. And electric vehicles will claim many of the same spaces meant for green mobility, such as cycle lanes, bus lanes, and compact and pedestrian spaces. A narrow focus on electric vehicles also locks us into an unfair transportation system in which people who can afford thousands of dollars a year for cars will leave behind those who cannot afford electric vehicles. .
While we devote a large chunk of California climate funds to electric cars, it’s fair to wonder if there are other options worth exploring.
Electric bikes replace car travel
A recent study from the College of Engineering at Portland State University found that electric bike subsidies are more cost effective than electric car incentives in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from private cars. The study focused on the greenhouse gas impacts of subsidies for electric bikes, battery electric cars, and plug-in hybrid electric cars in Oregon. He found that e-bike subsidies, like the $ 10 million e-bike affordability program offered by CalBike, were the most cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
As California lawmakers contemplate spending billions of dollars to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from private cars, we now have a chance to support e-bikes as well with a bill introduced by the assembled Tasha Boerner Horvath. , an Encinitas Democrat. Assembly Bill 117, the Electric Bicycle Affordability Bill, would establish a pilot program to encourage the purchase of electric bicycles to reduce vehicle miles, reduce pollution from the environment. air, water and noise and help Californians exercise more. To implement the program, lawmakers must allocate $ 10 million in the budget being negotiated among lawmakers this month.
Boerner Horvath explains, “E-bikes are helping us cut shorter car journeys, lower emissions and get closer to our ambitious climate goals. Now is the time to make e-bikes affordable for all Californians.”
What I find encouraging about this bill is that the proposed “Affordable Program for Electric Bikes” would provide purchase incentives for low-income residents, bringing emission-free transportation within reach. many more Californians. Plus, e-bikes plug into a regular wall outlet and cost around 1 cent per mile to operate – no need for charging stations.
Compared to electric vehicles, electric bikes are carbon crushers. Investing in cycling makes people healthier and happier, improves road safety and reduces congestion. In the future, we should consider tax relief for small businesses to purchase e-bikes for local deliveries. And truly fair mobility would also include discounts and incentives to buy human pedal bikes.
The justice of mobility requires us to go beyond the focus on cars. We have less than a decade to reduce our emissions to sustainable levels. Focusing cycling, including e-bikes, in our urban transportation future is both necessary and viable.
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