Air Resources Board Bike Purchase Incentive Petition

The California Bicycle Coalition, along with several coalition partners, has presented a new idea to the California Air Resources Board (ARB). The ARB distributes funds for the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, which offers rebates for electric vehicles; we're asking them to expand their program to include the cleanest vehicle of all: the bicycle.

We are seeking the creation of a $10 million Bicycle Purchase Incentive Pilot Program. The program would provide vouchers for half of the cost of bikes that are commonly used for commuting, up to a maximum rebate of $500—or $1000 for electric bicycles. Under the program, California would pay for half the cost of cargo bikes, electric bikes, folding bikes, bike share, and other utilitarian bicycles used for everyday transportation. This could be huge.

Find our letter to the California Air Resources Board Below, and sign our petition!

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GOAL: 3,000 signatures

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Coalition letter to the California Air Resources Board:

February 10, 2016

Chairwoman Mary Nichols
California Air Resources Board
1001 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: Bicycle Purchase Incentive Program Concept

Dear Chair Nichols, Board Members, and Staff:

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we applaud the efforts of the Air Resources Board to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector through Low Carbon Transportation Fund investments. In particular, we support the diverse investments in disadvantaged community Light-Duty Vehicle Pilot Projects that provide opportunities for low-income residents to either afford an electric vehicle, or to access clean mobility options without the burden of owning a personal automobile. We recommend you consider also investing in incentives for a zero-emission vehicle that is not currently included in the program—the bicycle.

We propose creating a $10 million Bicycle Purchase Incentive Pilot Program within the Light-Duty Vehicle Pilot Projects subset of the Low Carbon Transportation Fund to fund rebates for the purchase of high-quality bicycles. The program would incentivize the purchase and use of electric bicycles, cargo bicycles, folding bicycles, and other high-quality utilitarian bicycles to replace vehicle trips. At least 50 percent of the funding should be expended to provide direct mobility benefits to residents in disadvantaged communities. The following expenditures should be eligible for rebates and incentives under the program:

  • Rebates for individuals and families, with at least 50 percent set aside for households whose income is 80 percent or less of the median household income for California.
  • Expansion or establishment of bike fleets for corporations or public agencies, especially for those located in disadvantaged communities, limited to 100 bicycles.
  • Bike share programs located in disadvantaged communities, limited to 100 bicycles.

Rebates for bicycle purchases at 50% of the price of the bicycle up to a maximum rebate of $500 are appropriate. ARB should also consider including the cost of legally-required lights, locks, helmets, and cycling classes as reimbursable costs under the program. Participants will be required to complete a survey at the time of purchase and after six months to evaluate the effectiveness of the rebate in prompting the initial purchase and the level and nature of use of the new bicycle for trips of all purposes and lengths.

Demand for utilitarian bicycling to replace vehicle trips is exploding and the bicycle industry has responded with a wide variety of electric bicycles, cargo bicycles, folding bicycles, and other commuter-style bicycles. However, these bicycles typically cost $1,000 or more, creating a cost barrier for low-income consumers and for families considering the cost of multiple bicycles. Providing subsidies for bicycle purchases would increase the affordability of these high-quality, zero-emission vehicles and stimulate the market for bicycles, especially for emerging technologies in electric-assist bicycles and cargo bicycles, continuing to drive down prices.

Our proposal leverages the existing successful “Increased Incentives for Public Fleets Project” which encourages public agencies to turn over their automobile fleets to electric vehicles by encouraging agencies to replace many of those vehicles with high-quality utilitarian bicycles, getting greater value for each dollar invested in greenhouse gas reduction.

Our proposal also strengthens the existing Car Sharing and Mobility Options Pilot Project that supports subsidized transit passes, bike- and car-sharing memberships for low-income residents. Research demonstrates that low-income communities of color have the highest rates of bicycling, and “the fastest growth in bicycling is among the Hispanic, African American and Asian American populations.” Increasing access to bicycles, especially in disadvantaged communities, has the potential to spur greater mode shift.

Promoting bicycling is a critical strategy for meeting our state climate goals and it has more “co-benefits” than almost any other strategy; it provides affordable transportation options, improves public health, increases traffic safety, and advances the economic prosperity of our communities. Bicycle travel doubled in California between 2000 and 2012 and the Caltrans Strategic Management Plan aims to triple bicycling by 2020.

We request that you consider funding a $10 million Bicycle Purchase Incentive Program as a Light-Duty Vehicle Pilot Project within the Low Carbon Transportation Fund in the 2016-17 fiscal year to improve access to the most affordable and cleanest vehicle for individuals, agencies, and families across California. Please contact Jeanie Ward-Waller, Policy Director with the California Bicycle Coalition with any questions.

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