CalBike’s $10M E-Bike Affordability Campaign

E-bikes are the greenest electric vehicle. Soon, Californians will be able to get purchase incentives to make them more affordable.

The status of the $10M E-Bike Incentive Program

Updated September 9, 2022.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has begun outline the e-bike incentives program. Here’s what we know so far:

  • The incentives program will launch in the first quarter of 2023 and will be open to people living anywhere in California.
  • Qualifying applicants can get a voucher of up to $750 for a regular e-bike and up to $1,500 for a cargo or adaptive e-bike. People whose income is under 225% FPL or who live in disadvantaged communities qualify for additional incentives.
  • To qualify for the incentive program, participants’ household income is capped at 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL). That’s $51,000 for a single person and $106,000 for a family of four.
  • The program will support the purchase of Class 1 (up to 20 mph, pedal assist only) and Class 2 (up to 20 mph, pedal assist and throttle) e-bikes. Class 3 (up to 28 mph, pedal assist only) will be excluded.
  • Participants must purchase a bike from a California bike shop or online from a company with a business location in California.

We estimate that the $10 million initial budget allocation will fund around 7,000 e-bike incentives, but demand is likely to be much higher (our interest list already has more than 7,000 names). CalBike will advocate to make this program annual and increase funding for the cleanest electric vehicle, the e-bike.

Why California needs an electric bicycle incentive program

We won phase one of our campaign. Now CalBike is working with the California Air Resources Board to roll out a program to help Californians buy e-bikes.

E-bikes combine the bicycle’s efficiency (the “beautiful machine”) with the ease and power of an electric motor. They provide Californians the opportunity to travel much farther, faster, and over more difficult terrain than a regular bike. Studies show that e-bike trips do a great job of replacing car trips. And compared to cars, including electric cars, they are much more affordable to own and operate.

Unfortunately, getting an e-bike in the first place is expensive. Many Californians cannot afford $2,000 or more on an e-bike, so they are stuck paying $100 each time they fill their tank and struggle with repair and maintenance costs that cause many families to sacrifice too much.

E-bikes should be the centerpiece of a strategy to replace gas-powered car trips to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while also advancing equity, promoting public health, reducing traffic, helping families save money, and supporting local economies.  Now, California has provided funding to support e-bikes.

e-bike

E-Bike Purchase Incentives FAQs

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about the e-bike purchase incentive project that CalBike helped pass and that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is implementing. It’s an exciting program, and information hasn’t always been easy to come by. So we’ve compiled some of the most common questions from people who want to get a voucher, bike retailers who want to participate in the program, and others. 

The answers below are based on what we know now, as the e-bike program is still in its development phase. We plan to update them as more information becomes available.

Note: This post was originally written October 19, 2002, and updated on November 4, 2022.

TL;DR version:

  • No, you can’t apply for an e-bike incentive yet. The program will launch in 2023, and applications will open then. We will announce the launch date as far in advance as we can.
  • The voucher amount will likely be between $750 and $1,250 for a standard e-bike and $1,500 or more for a cargo or adaptive bike.
  • The pilot program is likely to be limited to Californians living at or below 400% of the federal poverty level.
  • There are many local e-bike incentive programs. Visit our e-bike page for a full list.

What is California’s Electric Bicycle Incentives Project?

The Electric Bicycle Incentives Project is a $10 million program to provide vouchers to California residents to help them afford an e-bike. CalBike advocated for the budget allocation, which passed in 2021 and funds the pilot project.

Can I get an e-bike voucher from CalBike?

No.

CalBike’s role is to push for more budget for the program, share information, and advocate for you, but we have no authority to process or distribute incentives. CARB will manage the incentive distribution process through its third-party administrator starting in 2023. We will share information about how to apply once it’s available, but CalBike won’t be involved in processing applications or awarding e-bike incentive vouchers.

When can I apply for a California e-bike incentive?

Not yet.

As of this writing, the California Air Resources Board statewide program is scheduled to launch in the first quarter of 2023, but that date could get pushed back slightly. 

You can’t apply in advance. However, if you sign up for CalBike’s e-bike mailing list below, we’ll let you know when the application window will open as soon as we get the date.

How do I apply for a voucher through California’s statewide e-bike incentives program?

The program administrator will set up an application process, and you will almost certainly be able to apply for the program online.

To apply, you’ll need documentation to prove that you meet the income qualifications. We’ll know more about the application process closer to the launch date.

How can I get assistance to buy an e-bike in California?

The Electric Bicycle Incentives Project will be California’s first statewide e-bike voucher program. However, there are many regional and local programs where you might be able to get funding to help you buy an e-bike now. 

SB 400, which CalBike helped pass in 2019, added an e-bike benefit to the Clean Cars for All program, which aims to take polluting cars off the road. If you have a qualifying car to turn in, incentives can be as high as $9,500, and you can use the funds to buy e-bikes and bike accessories for multiple family members. However, this program is administered by regional air quality management districts, and not all districts have added the e-bike benefit. We spoke to people who got this voucher in the Bay Area and Southern California to give you an idea of the process. Find out more details about the Bay Area program on this handy reference page.

In addition, there are numerous local programs through nonprofit organizations, utilities, and other entities. You can find many California programs on this list of global e-bike incentive programs.

How long does it take to get an e-bike incentive?

We don’t know how long the application process will take through the statewide program, but it will involve income verification and then finding an eligible bike vendor, so plan on at least a few weeks (and possibly longer) from when you apply.

For the Clean Cars program, the people we interviewed waited quite a few months to get through paperwork and approvals. For local programs, inquire directly about the timing.

Bottom line: If you need an e-bike ASAP, you might not want to wait to get a voucher.

Who will qualify for the California e-bike incentive program?

At the moment, CARB proposes limiting eligibility for the program to people whose income is less than 400% of the federal poverty level. That means the income caps (based on 2022 FPL amounts) would be:

  • Individual: $54,360
  • Family of 2: $73,240
  • Family of 3: $92,120
  • Family of 4: $111,000
  • Family of 5: $129,880

Please note that the details of the program are still being finalized, including income eligibility.

How much will the California e-bike incentives be?

The exact amount is not yet determined, but CARB is looking in the range of $750 to $1,250 for the basic incentive. The program will probably offer more funds for people buying a cargo or adaptive bike (at least $1,500) and additional funding to people living below 225% of the federal poverty level or living in a disadvantaged community.

What kinds of bikes qualify for incentives?

You can use the incentive to buy any type of e-bike, including a folding bike, cargo bike, or adaptive bike. 

E-bikes are grouped into three classes:

  • Class 1: pedal assist only, 20 mph speed limited — will qualify for the program
  • Class 2: pedal assist or throttle, 20 mph speed limited — will qualify for the program
  • Class 3: pedal assist only, 28 mph speed limited, helmets required, must be 16 or older to operate — likely to qualify for the program

Can I use an e-bike incentive to buy a conversion kit?

There are numerous conversion kits on the market that allow you to add aftermarket electric power to a standard bike frame. At the moment, conversion kits are not part of the proposed eligible purchases. The EV program for cars doesn’t cover conversions and CARB has let CalBike know that, to stay consistent, conversion kits probably won’t be eligible for vouchers through the e-bike incentives program.

Why can’t I get an incentive to buy a non-electric bike?

Excellent question. The current program covers only electric bike purchases, not standard or classic bikes. Electric bikes tend to be significantly more expensive than classic bikes, so a purchase incentive may be the only way for many people to afford one. In addition, many people who don’t feel comfortable riding a standard bike because of age, health issues, the need to carry passengers or cargo, etc., may replace car trips with bike trips on an electric bike.

However, the classic bicycle is incredibly energy-efficient and elegant transportation, and some places do offer incentives to help residents buy non-motorized bicycles. For example, the French government is offering 400 Euros to citizens who trade their cars for a bike or e-bike. CalBike would love to see a program like this in California and we will continue to explore ways to encourage more people to choose the joy of riding a bike.

Where can I buy an e-bike with a CARB incentive?

The program administrator will provide a list of qualifying bike retailers. You can buy from a bike shop or order an e-bike online. 

I’m an e-bike retailer. How can I participate in the program?

The administrator will set up a process for e-bike retailers who want to accept e-bike incentive vouchers to apply to participate. Qualifying retailers need to have some kind of physical presence in California (a shop, office, or manufacturing facility), even if you sell your bikes exclusively online. You may need to supply parts to local retailers so participants can have access to repairs and service.

The process for retailers to join the program has not been set yet. Sign up for our e-bike interest list below, and we’ll share information about retailer participation when it becomes available.

How can I help shape California’s statewide incentives program?

CARB has been holding work group meetings to take input on the program. Sign up for CARB’s e-bike email list to get notified of the next work group meeting later this fall. We also send advance notice of work group meetings through the CalBike list.

To send comments on the program directly, email CleanTransportationIncentives@arb.ca.gov.

How do I get more information about the e-bike incentive program?

Have we mentioned that CalBike has an e-bike incentives interest list? Use the form below to add your name, and we’ll send periodic updates as we get more information, including letting you know when you can apply.

You can also sign up for CARB’s e-bike email list to get information directly from CARB.

Video of the September 28, 2022 CARB Electric Bicycle Incentives Project Work Group Meeting

What will the E-Bike Affordability Program do? 

California’s E-Bike Affordability Program provides $10 million in subsidies to help people buy e-bikes. The program will begin in late 2022 — date TBD. CalBike will work with the vender CARB chooses to administer the program to help develop guidelines for the equitable distribution of the funds.

We expect this program to help 10,000 Californians buy clean, green e-bikes. We’ll spread the word about how to apply once the details are settled. Sign the form above to be the first to know about California e-bike subsidies.

Goals of the E-Bike Affordability Program

  • Help people replace car trips with e-bike trips.
  • Prioritize grants to individuals from low-income households.
  • Define eligibility for the program as individuals and households with incomes below the maximum limits established in the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project.
  • Support related programs and benefits, such as safety education.
  • Provide support for a variety of electric bicycles, including, but not limited to, bicycles designed for people with disabilities; utility bikes for carrying equipment or passengers, including children; and folding e-bikes.
  • Support local small businesses and organizations, such as retail bicycle shops and nonprofit organizations, including community bicycle shops.
  • Collaborate with other state departments and agencies to enforce safeguards against fraudulent activity by sellers and purchasers of e-bikes in accordance with the law.
  • Ensure that e-bikes purchased through this program meet a high standard of quality and durability.

AB 117 Supporters

AB 117 supporter logos

Dave Snyder, Executive Director California Bicycle Coalition

Jonathan Matz, California Senior Policy Manager Safe Routes Partnership

Joey Juhasz-Lukomski, Executive Director BikeVentura

Michael Schneider, Founder Streets For All

David Diaz, MPH, Executive Director Active San Gabriel Valley

Eris Weaver, Executive Director Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition

Christy Zamani, Executive Director Day One

John Jones III, President/CBO East Side Riders Bike Club

Carolynn Johnson, West Coast Program Manager Institute for Transportation and Development Policy

Allis Druffel, IHM, Southern California Director California Interfaith Power & Light

Maryann Aguirre, Project Director People for Mobility Justice

Bryn Lindblad, Deputy Director Climate Resolve

Andy Hanshaw, Executive Director San Diego County Bicycle Coalition

Denny Zane, Executive Director Move LA

Shiloh Ballard, Executive Director Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition

Liza Lutzker, Coordinating Committee Walk Bike Berkeley

Eli Akira Kaufman, Executive Director Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition

Paul Rabinov, Board member Walk Bike Glendale

Glenn Hammett, President Bike Bakersfield

Anne Wallach Thomas, Executive Director Shasta Living Streets

Dave “Poy” Poyourow, Board Member Bikerowave Co-op, Los Angeles

Brian Wiedenmeier, Executive Director San Francisco Bicycle Coalition

Gina Gallino Cole, Executive Director Bike Santa Cruz County

Heng Lam Foong, Director
Asian Pacific Islander Forward Movement

Patrick Band
Napa County Bicycle Coalition

Peter Choi, Board Member Bicycle Kitchen/La Bici-Cocina

Damian Kevitt, Executive Director Streets Are For Everyone

Steve Dakin, Manager San Jose Bike Clinic

Rick Ellison, Executive Director Bike SLO County

Tarrell Kullaway, Executive Director Marin County Bicycle Coalition

Carter Rubin, Mobility and Climate Advocate Natural Resources Defence Council

Dave Campbell, Advocacy Director Bike East Bay

Ruben Aronin, Senior Vice President Better World Group

Marven Norman, Executive Director Inland Empire Biking Alliance

Colin Bogart, Steering Committee Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition

Kyle Heiskala, Board President BikeSD

Deb Banks, Executive Director

Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates

Elise Kalfayan, Steering Committee Member

Glendale Environmental Coalition

Julia Randolph, Policy and Outreach Associate

Coalition for Clean Air

Laura Cohen, Western Region Director

Rails to Trails Conservancy

Biking to work or school is a win-win-win. It’s great for the environment, reduces traffic, and makes for healthier, happier people.” — Assembly Member Tasha Boerner Horvath, AB 117 author, on how she and her family use bikes to travel around their district.

E-Bike Stories

Riders share some of the ways that e-bikes have changed their lives.