Congress Members Peddle Tax Credits for E-Bike & Bike Share Bills

Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) and Congressional Bike Caucus Chairman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) introduced the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment (E-BIKE) Act to encourage the use of electric bicycles, or e-bikes, through a consumer tax credit.  Due to the distance, speed, and ease by which they can travel, e-bikes will help replace vehicle trips and commutes and reduce carbon emissions.

A recent study found that if 15 percent of car trips were made by e-bike, carbon emissions would drop by 12 percent.  46% percent of e-bike commute trips replaced automobile commute trips according to a recent North American survey, and a more thorough review of European studies showed that e-bike trips replaced car trips 47% to 76% of the time.

The E-BIKE Act creates a consumer tax credit that:

  • Covers 30% of the cost of the electric bicycle, up to a $1,500 credit
  • Applies to new electric bicycles that cost less than $8,000
  • Is fully refundable, allowing lower-income workers to claim the credit

“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,” said Congressman Panetta.  “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 can not only encourage more Americans to transition to greener modes of transportation, but also help fight the climate crisis.”

“One of the few positive developments of the last year has been the surge in biking.  Communities large and small are driving a bike boom. Notably, electric bicycles are expanding the range of people who can participate and making bike commuting even easier,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Bike Caucus.  “I look forward to working with Congressman Panetta on this important expansion of cycling opportunities.”

“Incentivizing electric bicycles makes them a competitive transportation option for more Americans and supports a national effort to lower carbon emissions,” said PeopleForBikes CEO Jenn Dice. “The E-BIKE Act positions rightfully 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.”

“The League knows life is better for everyone when more people ride bikes, and we know e-bikes make biking a more accessible and easier option for more Americans,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists.  “We’re encouraged by congressional leadership on the E-BIKE Act, a bill that if passed will enable Americans to fight climate change and improve public health through the simple act of bicycling.”

“Bike Santa Cruz County supports Congressman Panetta’s proposed consumer tax credit for the purchase of electric bicycles (e-bikes).  E-bikes are a game changer for many people, allowing them to continue using a bicycle for recreation and fitness and opening an option for daily commuting.  Cargo-type e-bikes also encourage others to feel more confident leaving the car at home and using bicycles for daily trips, including grocery shopping and transporting children to day-care or to parks,” said Gina Cole, Director, Bike Santa Cruz County.

“Transportation is the U.S. economy’s largest contributor of carbon emissions.  But the personal budget of many Americans simply doesn’t allow them to purchase an electric car, even with tax rebates, until car prices come down.  A tax rebate for electric bicycles will allow many more Americans to afford transportation that is better for the environment—with the added benefit of improved personal and public health,” said Mari Lynch, founder of Bicycling Monterey.

“Bicycles are the cleanest, greenest, most efficient form of transportation ever invented.  And electric bikes take that a big leap further.  They are a perfect replacement for so many local car trips, and an even more powerful tool for change.  We should be doing everything possible to help more people afford e-bikes, which will lead to more bicycle commuting, fewer car trips, less congestion, less carbon emissions, and healthier lifestyles.  It’s a win all the way around,” said Ken Martin, Founder and CEO, Mike’s Bikes.

“E-bikes make any short trip easy and fun and are a great alternative to cars.  We are grateful to Rep. Panetta for recognizing the important role that bicycles can play as carbon-free transportation.  A federal tax credit for e-bikes, combined with state support that we’re working on here in California, will make e-bikes a popular options for millions of Americans.  It’s about time,” said Dave Snyder, Executive Director, California Bicycle Coalition.

“Congressman Panetta’s proposed ebike tax credit is well timed to meet the moment as ebikes offer healthy, fast, convenient, and Covid safe transportation but their purchase cost is often a barrier for low and moderate income residents.  This tax credit would make ebikes – which travel faster with less effort than regular bikes – more afford to those in need of more sustainable mobility options.  We applaud Congressman Panetta’s proposed legislation to increase equitable and affordable solutions to reducing GHG emissions,” said Piet Canin, Strategic Development Director of Ecology Action.

“E-bikes are a proven tool to cut greenhouse gas emissions by replacing car trips, but riding a bike for transportation in the U.S. is daunting. This tax credit could seriously help Americans who are interested but concerned about how a commuter e-bike could work for them decide to go ahead and make the investment,” said Ryan Schuchard, Director, Innovative Mobility, CALSTART

“America’s car-centric transportation system is wreaking havoc on our health and the health of our planet.  To transform transportation in the United States, we need to encourage people to drive less by incentivizing the adoption of cleaner, healthier and more affordable ways to get around.  The E-BIKE Act will help bring us one step closer to a pollution-free transportation network.  As we move through the COVID-19 crisis, we urge policymakers to not only accommodate e-bike adoption, but to actively encourage it,” said John Stout, U.S. PIRG Transportation Advocate.

“We are thrilled about this new bill, and how it will make owning an electric bike a possibility for more Americans. Increasing the adoption of ebikes in the US will have a positive and transformative impact on cities, quality of life, and how people relate to one another, similar to what we have seen in the Netherlands,” said Ewoud van Leeuwen, General Manager Gazelle USA, LLC.

Congressional Bike Caucus founder eyes opportunity to strengthen biking infrastructure.

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Bike Caucus, reintroduced two bills to fund nationwide bikeshare programs and expand bicycle commuter benefits. The Bikeshare Transit Act would make local bike share programs eligible for federal transportation funding, while the Bicycle Commuter Act would reinstate and expand the bicycle commuter tax benefit to incentivize biking to work.

“COVID-19 has only increased the popularity of bicycle commuting and bikeshare systems as people seek safe transportation options. Even when the pandemic ends, this demand for biking will remain,” Blumenauer said. “The federal government needs to catch up and finally provide the funding, flexibility, and incentives needed to strengthen bike culture and infrastructure.”

The number of rides taken through bikeshare systems in the U.S. has grown every year since 2010. In 2019, riders took 50 million trips on bikeshare systems in at least 119 communities across the country. While some of those programs received federal funding, the lack of an established source of government support has proved an impediment to many other projects. Blumenauer’s Bikeshare Transit Act would codify “bikeshare” as an official form of transit and make bikeshare systems eligible for federal funding, which could be used for constructing and maintaining bikeshare facilities.

Relatedly, the Bicycle Commuter Act would ensure cyclists have access to pre-tax commuter benefits like those available for parking and public transit. Blumenauer authored and enacted a smaller bicycle commuter reimbursement benefit in 2009, but Republicans suspended it through 2025 as part of their 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Blumenauer’s legislation would not only reverse this suspension but also expand and modernize the bicycle commuter tax benefit. Specifically, his bill would make it a pre-tax benefit, more than triple the benefit’s value, allow the benefit to be used in concert with transit and parking benefits, and add bikeshare and electric bikes as eligible for the benefit.

Both bills, which are also sponsored by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Vernon Buchanan (R-FL), passed the House of Representatives in July 2020 as part of the Moving Forward Act. Now, under a new Democratic administration and Senate, Blumenauer is working to ensure both biking bills are included in any transportation package signed into law this Congress.

Full text of the Bikeshare Transit Act can be found here.

Full text of the Bicycle Commuter Act can be found here.

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