California residents are one step closer to being able to trade in their old polluting car for a brand new electric bicycle, thanks to the advancement of SB 400 in the California Senate.
The E-Bikes for Mobility Bill, SB 400 (Umberg), expands the definition of ‘mobility options’ in the Clean Vehicles for All program which provides vouchers to low income residents who trade in inefficient cars. The vouchers, issued by a number of regional Air Districts across the state, are good for electric, hybrid, and plug-in cars and “mobility options” like car-sharing memberships or transit passes. The new definition of mobility options will include bike sharing and electric bicycle purchases.
Assistant Director of UC Institute of Transportation Studies Laura Podolsky gave expert testimony at Tuesday’s hearing to the power of e-bikes to get people to switch from car to bike travel. A recent UC Davis policy brief reported on the effectiveness of European e-bike purchase incentive programs. As many as 50% of trips by electric bicycle would have been car trips, if the rider hadn’t had access to a pedal assist bike.
This bill, authored by Senator Tom Umberg (D-Santa Ana), has passed the Environmental Quality Committee and was just voted out of the Transportation Committee on a unanimous vote. This amendment to the Health and Safety code still has several steps to go before it becomes law, but given the early enthusiasm and support, we are optimistic about its chances in this legislative session.