Campaign to Promote E-Bikes in California Turns to BikeShare Programs

by / July 05, 2018

As more people discover the joy of using an electric bike to get around, just like with regular bikes, our communities become better — more equitable, more prosperous, and more inclusive. Bicycles are affordable, safe, healthy, and clean transportation. The problem is, electric bicycles can be expensive. Their cost deters many Californians from trying this valuable and sustainable mobility option.

The California Air Resources Board recognizes this problem when it comes to electric cars. The ARB has distributed almost $536 million dollars to Californians to help them afford electric cars, but so far, not a dime to help them afford the cleanest vehicle of all, the bicycle! CalBike has been working for years to get bikes included as eligible for rebates and purchase incentives through our proposed Bicycle Purchase Incentive Pilot Program. Click here to learn more, and sign our petition.

This year, we saw a new opportunity to promote e-bikes: the expansion of e-bikeshare programs.  

Bikesharing programs have the potential to provide healthy and affordable mobility to millions of Californians. Electric bikeshare programs have extraordinary potential because e-bikes remove the barriers that prevent many people from relying on bikes for transportation. On an e-bike, hills are flattened, distances shortened, and strenuous trips are made easier.

Every study shows that when people have access to e-bikes, their use of an automobile decreases, saving money, improving health, and protecting the climate.  About half of all e-bike trips would have been car trips, at an average of 9 miles according to a recent North American survey. A review of at least 18 European studies found that e-bike users reduced the amount of miles driven by 20% to 76%, with four studies reporting figures of at least 50%.

Despite this potential, e-bikeshare programs do not reach most of California. Bikesharing programs and companies concentrate their service in the wealthy coastal cities, leaving the rest of lower-income California without access to this clean mobility option. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) can solve this disparity easily: simply by including electric bikeshare as an eligible expense in their already-established $15 million program “Clean Mobility Options for Disadvantaged Communities.”

What You Can Do

CalBike has worked with the CARB staff who are planning to recommend a program to the agency’s Board of Directors when they approve their budget in October 2018. You can help by writing to CARB urging them to support the staff proposal. Click here for a sample letter.


























J. Macarthur, M. Harpool, D. Scheppke, C. Cherry. “A North American Survey of Electric Bicycle Owners,” Transportation Research Board, March 29, 2018.

Cairns, F. Behrendt, D. Raffo, C. Beaumont, C. Kiefer. “Electrically-assisted bikes: Potential impacts on travel behaviour”, El Sevier Transportation Research Part A, March 21, 2017.

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