Where is the California E-Bike Incentive Program? Part 2 – California Streetsblog
Last year, the California legislature earmarked $10 million to create a program that would provide incentives for buying e-bikes. The details of the program were mostly left to the discretion of the Air Resources Board, but a few requirements were included in the bill. For example, it set a launch date of July 1, 2022 – which passed without any announcement from CARB.
The little information available on the CARB website is not easy to find. The staff put out a call for nominations for a director in April and held a question and answer session that month. It has received requests from three organizations to run the program.
In response to questions, CARB staff said they were not yet ready to select a director, but also had no plans to issue another call for nominations at this time.
This delay is a problem for many reasons, including people waiting to hear when the state will offer incentives to buy e-bikes. The California Bicycle Coalition maintains a list of more than 5,500 people waiting to hear from the program. (You can sign up for CalBike’s list and receive updates when the program finally launches here.)
Postponing a decision delays an already slow process and could push the start date of the program beyond the end of the year. Other sources of e-bike incentives, including through the Clean Cars for All program run by regional air districts, have been similarly slow to get off the ground.
It almost feels like CARB is more than reluctant to offer these incentives, even though it’s increasingly clear that e-bikes can be great substitutes for passenger cars. Their carbon footprint, costs, parking requirements and road space they take up are also significantly lower than electric cars, and CARB doesn’t seem to have much trouble promoting electric vehicles as a climate solution. .
The application process posed many detailed questions to potential directors, but CARB provided only minimal information to the public, including the names of the candidates and the amount of their bid.
The three are:
- The Center for Sustainable Energy, an organization that currently administers the CARB Clean Vehicle Rebate Program. For some reason, this contestant only asked for $2.5 million for the $10 million program. It is unclear whether this is an error or whether the request focused solely on administration, for which a maximum of $2.5 million was allowed.
- Grid Alternatives, which currently operates Access Clean California, CARB’s “one-stop shop,” to provide information and assistance on the various clean energy rebates and incentives offered by California. Grid Alternatives would partner with Ecology Action, an organization that works on community plans and training for sustainable transportation. Grid Alternatives also runs an extensive solar installation program, which includes workforce development and community outreach.
- Rider Safety Visibility, a San Diego-based group that is tied to a county e-bike incentive program called Pedal Start, a project by the former CARB board member and current San Diego County Supervisor , Nathan Fletcher. Rider Safety Visibility is also a recipient of a grant to create a workforce development program for young adults, but there is little information about this or any other experience on its minimalist website consisting primarily of of blank pages.
It’s unclear why the choice of a director seems to have stalled, but the longer CARB waits to make a decision, the further the launch will be pushed into the future. It seems likely, given the high level of interest, that the incentives would roll out quickly once the program kicks off. But making sure they get to the people who need them most will require an experienced and capable administrator, and the full support of CARB.
And that full support, including a high level of transparency, will also be needed if there is any hope of growing this unborn program beyond the initial $10 million. Which, as a reminder, is only a tiny fraction of the $425 million that California is making available for the purchase of electric cars.