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Tax credits for buying electric and hybrid vehicles have been around for years now, are a proven motivator to encourage drivers to purchase cleaner cars, and have saved many millions of tons of carbon dioxide from belching into the atmosphere. They’re great, the tax credits.

But for a long time now, right about when I got my first cargo e-bike, I’ve wondered: Why are we giving tax credits of up to $7,000 for cars to slightly offset the purchase price of a hugely expensive car when we could give tax credits for purchases of e-bikes that could pay for the entire bike? The main roadblocks preventing non-avid cyclists from trying out an e-bike, especially a cargo version that can largely replace a car, is the cost. A tax credit pulverizes that road block to dust. A no brainer.

Finally, a meaningful attempt at such legislation is here.

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The Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment (E-BIKE) Act, sponsored by Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), would give tax credits of $1,500 for any new e-bike purchase. It could be used once per person every three years.

“There is an incredible benefit to the health of people and the planet when we opt for a bike ride over a car ride,” said Mike Sinyard, Specialized CEO and Founder in a letter to Congress in support of the act. “Electric bikes serve as a more accessible means for reliable transport, commuting, recreation, and fitness and have a proven impact on reducing carbon emissions,” said Mike Sinyard, Specialized Founder and CEO. “Specialized is an avid supporter of the proposed federal tax incentive put forward by the E-BIKE Act. Whichever e-bike riders choose, we believe that encouraging more bike trips is a critical part of fighting the climate crisis.”

This has the potential to be a watershed moment in terms of transportation emissions, and a radical reshaping of how people move about through our towns and cities.

The individual part of the bill means multiple family members could get them at once. Re-upping every three years means you can take advantage of newer technologies as batteries and motors continually improve. The rush of people buying e-bikes would fund more and better designs.

If I could add one more piece to this legislation, I’d bump up the credit to $2,000 or even $2,500 for a cargo e-bike. These are the machines that have the bigger opportunity to get people out of cars for daily errands. They also often cost at least $3,000 or $4,000.

A bill like this should have bipartisan support, and very likely might. But the fossil fuel industry basically employs half of Congress, so there could be more foot dragging than you’d hope. To encourage your Congressional representative to support the bill, head here.

Photo: Justin Housman

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