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Provides customers with incentives for purchase of eBikes 

According to a statement released March 8, Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) is launching a new program focused on connecting income-qualified customers in need of clean, personal transportation.

Transportation is the leading source of community-wide emissions in SCP’s service territory, and supporting the regional transition from gas-powered vehicles to vehicles fueled by clean electricity is one of SCP’s priorities.

However, tackling emissions from transportation also requires reducing the number of cars on the road. 

According to SCP, the eBike industry has found new recognition in recent years, though various models of eBikes can be traced back as far as the 1890s. With states and countries setting ambitious goals to combat greenhouse gas emissions, eBikes have caught the eye of local governments and public agencies as a solution for short-distance commuters in their communities. 

When compared to traditional bikes, eBikes allow riders to travel longer distances in a shorter amount of time. The extra range and assisted pedaling can help replace car trips, ease commutes to work and solve the “last mile” issue some people face when using public transit.

eBikes are pedal bicycles with a rechargeable electric battery and engine which offer three types of travel — pedal only, like any bicycle, pedal assist (also known as electric assist) in which each pedal push is augmented by the electric motor (and on most eBikes you can modify how much assistance you are receiving) and finally electric only, in which the bike operates entirely in the motor without human power, similar to a moped or electric scooter.

eBike motors come in a wide variety of power ratings, from 200W to 1,000W or more, however the legal limit in the US is 750W,  although different states can set their own limits.

A higher rating means that the bike will be able to pull more weight with greater ease, but at the expense of using more battery capacity while doing so. In other words, a 750W motor will drain the battery much quicker than a 250W one, but it will also be more powerful.

Windsor town council member and SMART board member Debora Fudge has long been a proponent of eBikes being used in conjunction with SMART train travel as a solution to the “last mile.” 

SMART is piloting a bike share program along its entire line, using eBikes to help people move to and from the train.

For those without a vehicle, eBikes may also present a lower-cost alternative to car ownership. 

Starting March 8, SCP customers who qualify for CARE/FERA (state programs that provide discounted electric rates administered by PG&E), CalFresh/SNAP, LIHEAP, Head Start and other income-based assistance programs can apply to receive $1,000 off the purchase of an eBike. 

In the coming weeks, customers whose applications are approved will be mailed a voucher which can be redeemed at a number of local bike retailers that are partnering with SCP. With the voucher, customers will get $1,000 off the eBike’s total cost at the time of purchase. 

"Electric bikes are a great way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and with SCP’s new program, we hope more people have the opportunity to discover their benefits," said Colin Thomas, the owner of Pedego Electric Bikes Santa Rosa. 

“We welcome the chance to show everyone what a delight owning an eBike can be. For a lot of people, eBikes do have the potential to be a viable and cost-effective option for commuting to work, especially given the expansive cycling infrastructure in our area,” he added. 

On SCP’s website, customers can view the list of participating bike retailers, which also includes details on which stores offer payment plan options. Additionally, customers can learn more about the free trainings on eBike safety and best practices that are being offered in partnership with the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition.

Through the “Bike Electric” program, SCP hopes to stimulate the local eBike market, further support the adoption of clean modes of transportation, and make eBikes accessible to residents who could benefit most from owning one.

A bill introduced Tuesday in the U.S. House of Representatives would give a refundable tax credit of up to $1,500 on the purchase of a new e-bike.

Authored by Congressmen Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment (E-BIKE) Act supports the use of e-bikes as a zero-carbon transportation mode. Compared to other transportation modes, the bill recommends e-bikes because they are more affordable and accessible.

“E-bikes are not just a fad for a select few; they are a legitimate and practical form of transportation that can help reduce our carbon emissions,” Panetta said. “My legislation will make it easier for more people from all socio-economic levels to own e-bikes and contribute to cutting our carbon output. By incentivizing the use of electric bicycles to replace car trips through a consumer tax credit, we cannot only encourage more Americans to transition to greener modes of transportation, but also help fight the climate crisis.”

If signed into law, the bill would offer individual consumers a refundable 30% tax credit — up to $1,500. The credit is only applicable on purchases of a new e-bike that costs less than $8,000. The credit would be allowed once per individual every three years, or twice for a joint-return couple buying two. The bill also mandates a report from the IRS after two years to understand the distribution of the credit by income tax bracket and adjust for equity in the future. The credit is fully refundable, allowing lower-income workers to claim the credit.

PeopleForBikes, which supports this bill, urged bicycle advocates to send a short letter to their representative, encouraging their support. PFB said studies show that across the U.S. there would be an 11% decrease in carbon emissions with a 15% increase in e-bike mode share. 

“Incentivizing electric bicycles makes them a competitive transportation option for more Americans and supports a national effort to lower carbon emissions,” said PFB's CEO, Jenn Dice. “The E-BIKE Act rightfully positions electric bicycles as a critical part of a larger solution to climate change and equitable mobility. We’re grateful to Congressman Panetta for leading the charge in Congress.”

For more information, contact PeopleForBikes' federal affairs manager, Noa Banayan.

A new law adopted in France at the beginning of 2021 is set to boost the combination of bikes and trains in the country for decades to come. Developed in parallel to the European Regulation on Rail Passengers’ Rights and Obligations, which was approved on 1st October 2020, the French law will require there to be at least 8 bicycle spaces on most services.

The French requirements generally go beyond what was agreed on the European level (a minimum of 4 bicycles) and should provide inspiration for other countries wanting to do more to encourage the combination of these two sustainable modes of transport.  The Loi d’orientation des mobilités (Mobility Orientation Act) will make sure that the improvements are set in motion “for rolling stock that is being purchased or renovated as of March 2021". While new or renovated trains for which contract notices have been, or will be, issued before March 2021 are technically not covered, SNCF (the French national rail undertaking) has declared that it will put 6-8 spaces in the TGV-M trains that they currently have on order .

© PLUQUET Pierre-Antoine

© PLUQUET Pierre-Antoine

Not only space, but services

In addition to the minimum number of bike spaces, the decree also includes some extra conditions that have to be met by the operators. Minimum information for transporting bicycles on trains will have to be provided ahead of the trip, in order to meet the needs of cyclists when they organise their journey, be it as part of leisure activities or for their daily commuting. This may include information about the location of the bike racks in the train composition or the possibility to book a place in advance when buying the ticket.

Not only 8, but many

Some French regions have gone even further – like Centre-Val de Loire, where the regional authorities decided to give a boost to bike and train intermodality already back in 2018, when a total of 50 new trains were purchased to replace old rolling stock. Since August 2020, 32 new trainsets have been circulating in the region, welcoming 9 bicycles per coach, for a total of 27 racks for a full train!

“This renewal of the Region’s rolling stock is not only intended to facilitate everyday trips for commuters. It also aims at the tourism development of our territory”, said Hugues Hausher, Production and Service Manager at the Region’s Transport and Sustainable Mobility Directorate.

Indeed, the Centre-Val de Loire region is crossed by 2,355 km of cycling routes of national and international scope, including EuroVelo 3 – Pilgrims Route and EuroVelo 6 – Atlantic-Black Sea.

Not only trains, but buses

©Centre-Val de Loire

©Centre-Val de LoireThe Mobility Orientation Act doesn’t only regulate bike and train intermodality. As of 1 July 2021, all new buses used for regular road public transport services, with the exception of urban services, will have to be equipped with a system to transport a minimum of 5 unassembled bicycles. While there are exemptions, the most forward-looking companies have already started.

In the Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropolis, the mobility operator Transdev is experimenting a new indoor bike rack system that allows for up to 6 bicycles to be loaded on each bus.

“This experiment is the result of a sustained and participatory work of user associations and tourism professionals to develop intermodality in the metropolis Aix-Marseille-Provence. This service is primarily designed for commuting to the Fos-sur-Mer employment area and for cycle tourists on the ViaRhôna [EuroVelo 17 – Rhone Route], which connects the Geneva Lake to the Mediterranean. Port-Saint-Louis is not served by train, so access to the route is not facilitated. With this new service, tourists on bicycles will now be able to reach the ViaRhôna from the train stations as well” said Axelle Astouric, Head of Communication and Innovation at Transdev.

An inspiration for others

France is proving to be the bon élève in the process of combining bicycles with public transport.  The approval of the EU’s Regulation on Rail Passengers’ Rights provides a foundation for national policies that can go above and beyond its requirements, as the French government have shown.

We would like to congratulate the group of organisations that have been advocating for these changes over many years.  Operating under the banner 'My bike on the train', the group was led by CycloTransEurope and the Amis de la Nature and featured both of our French members, FUB and AF3V, and the French National EuroVelo Coordination Centre, V&T.

The ECF will be continuing to lobby on the European level for improved measures for combining bikes and trains through the ongoing review of the Trans-European Transport (TEN-T) Network Guidelines.  More information is available here