CalBike’s E-Bike Affordability Bill (AB 117) had its first victory on Monday when the Assembly Transportation Committee voted unanimously in support of this essential program. Committee Chair Laura Friedman and Member Buffy Wicks asked to be included as co-authors.
Dave Snyder, Vista City Councillor Corinna Contreras, and a number of representatives of environmental groups and individuals spoke in support of the bill during the hearing. Brian Simmons testified eloquently about how his e-bike was essential to his mental and physical healing after losing a leg in military service. Nobody spoke in opposition.
The bill is part of CalBike’s $10M E-Bike Affordability Program. Introduced by Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath, AB 117 establishes an e-bike purchase incentive program which through grants and vouchers will help make e-bikes affordable and accessible to thousands of Californians. Prior to approval, CalBike coordinated amendments among stakeholders to specify the goals of the program. Amendments also removed any reference to funding the program. For the promise of AB 117 to become real, legislators must separately include the $10 million in the state budget.
“The budget process will be key,” said Dave Snyder, CalBike’s Executive Director. “This will be meaningless without a healthy amount of funding.” The $10 million CalBike hopes to win in the 2022 budget is slated to cover the first several years of the program. Snyder hopes that e-bike purchase incentives will be so popular and successful that the state will soon allocate $10 million annually for e-bike purchase incentives.
Funding is the key to removing barriers to e-bike adoption
E-bikes are not only greener than electric cars; they also help people lead more active, healthier lives. And the electricity to power an e-bike costs less than $0.01 per mile.
The biggest barrier to e-bike adoption has been the price. Simple e-bikes of good quality cost more than $1,500, and many of the most useful bikes can cost more than $4,000, well out of the price range for low-income Californians. CalBike’s goal for the program is to connect 10,000 Californians with affordable e-bikes.
The next big test for AB 117 will be the vote on the floor. Many of you emailed your representatives on the Transportation Committee to build support for e-bike purchase incentives. We’ll put out a similar call when the bill comes up for a vote on the Assembly Floor.
But the bigger test for the program will be the budget process. “It’s one thing for legislators to say they support the program in theory,” said Snyder. “It’s more important for them to support it in the budget.”
On Monday, CalBike brings on board a campaign manager to help us win the budget fight. Your support will be critical. Please sign our petition, and include your address, so we know which district you live in to coordinate our advocacy. And please share the petition in your networks.
We can’t avoid the worst effects of climate change unless we transition our transportation sector to cleaner vehicles—quickly. E-bikes are one of the best ways to replace car trips with clean, green transportation. Your support will help us pass and fund this important e-bike affordability program.