Oregon’s e-bike rebate bill set for first legislative hearing

A capable cargo hauler like this costs $7,000 – $8,000. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

UPDATE, 1/27 at 8:20 am: The e-bike rebate bill has been pulled from the agenda. Scroll to end of post for details.


A bill that could usher in an exciting new era for mobility statewide will receive its first public hearing in the Oregon Legislature next week. House Bill 2571 will be heard at the House Committee On Climate, Energy, and Environment on Monday at 3:00 pm.

As we first shared back in November, this is the bill that would give purchasers of electric bicycles an instant rebate of up to $1,200 for a standard model and $1,700 for a cargo bike. To pay for the rebate, the bill seeks $6 million out of the state’s general fund to be placed into a program administered by the Department of Environmental Quality. According to a forthcoming report about e-bikes from the Oregon Department of Transportation, 65 localities in the United States currently offer some form of rebate toward purchasing an e-bike (as of July 2022).

E-bike use and purchases have skyrocketed in Oregon in the past few years. Statewide sales numbers aren’t available, but data from cycling industry experts NPD Group show that e-bike sales more than quadrupled between 2019 and 2021. NPD Group analyst Dick Sorenson has been tracking e-bike sales for eight years and wrote in late 2021 that, “The growth of e-bikes should come as little surprise, as these bicycles address the needs of an aging U.S. population, provide easy access to a family-friendly outdoor activity, and address some of the need for commuting in denser population centers.”

Rep. Pham and her electric cargo bike. (Photo from a Pham fundraiser)

Oregon’s e-bike rebate bill is sponsored by House Reps Dacia Grayber and Mark Gamba. Neither of them are members of the House Climate, Energy and Environment Committee, but one of the bills co-sponsors, Rep. Khanh Pham is. As an e-cargo bike owner herself, she’ll be a strong voice of support for the bill.

Oregon bike shop owners are also going to line up behind this. One of them told us recently he expects his business to double overnight if this bill passes. Brook McKee at Pedego Electric Bikes on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, is also excited about how this bill will impact her business. “I think it would be very beneficial for us. We’re trying to give people a mode of transportation they need, without having to worry about buying a car,” she shared on the phone this morning. “And price is a big issue, especially for our younger customers.”

A typical e-bike at Pedego that would be a good car replacement will set you back around $2,500 to $3,500. That’s inexpensive compared to other shops around town who stock urban commuting and utility models that can easily set you back $5,000 to $6,000. The very popular Urban Arrow cargo bike with a large bin in the front (like in the photo above) costs $7,000 to $8,000 at Clever Cycles.

The State of Oregon already offers a wide variety of generous financial incentives and rebates for anyone who wants to buy an electric car. Given the vast potential of electric bikes, it’s both fair and sensible to extend that type of policy to other types of EVs. That forthcoming report on e-bike use that ODOT is set to release next month makes a strong recommendation that the time is right for Oregon to create an e-bike incentive program.

If you own a bike shop or are a potential beneficiary of an e-bike rebate, you can register to testify online or in-person for Monday’s meeting here. You can also click here to submit written testimony that will be uploaded to the committee website and be made available to committee members prior to the hearing.


UPDATE, 1/27 at 11:00 am: We have confirmed that HB 2571 has been pulled from the agenda. Sponsor Rep. Grayber said it was a welcome development because the postponement will give e-bike advocates a bit more time to prepare for the hearing. Part of the reason might also have to do with a forthcoming ODOT report about e-bike use that isn’t set to be released until February 1. That report will be very relevant for bill sponsors and advocates because it includes a recommendation for e-bike purchase incentives. A new committee hearing date for the bill has not yet been scheduled.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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dw
dw
1 year ago

I really hope this bill passes! I love my ebike. My very uphill commute is doable on a regular bike, but it’s a real slog and I show up to work sweaty. With the pedal assist on the ebike I still get a little movement but it feels closer to riding on flat ground. It’s such a great machine for getting around town. I think I’ve used it pretty much every day since I got it. More people out of their cars and on ebikes is a great win for our planet, city, and communities.

Selfishly, I want to get an e-cargo bike now too 🙂

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  dw

I am glad you like yours..
So if the E-bike “boom” is here and we need to give you all rebates, how come you all aren’t out riding?
Bike use percentage keeps dropping… 2% and dropping despite all the green paint and wands…and anecdotally I see far less cyclists of any kind in Portland compared to 5 years ago.
Serious question, I would love to see people on them but there is no evidence they are increasing bike use.
I ride normal bikes 3000 miles a year and I don’t ask or get a rebate.
I really doubt they matter or at least they don’t seem to.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

The people responsible for the drop in bike commuting numbers are probably not commenting on BikePortland. Not sure why you are laying it on this person, who just happens to own an e-bike.

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris I

I was not “laying it” on this person. I was just question ing why the need of rebates was I see no evidence they matter.
I have the same view of EV cars.. the people who can afford them like them and should buy them but I should not have to pay part of the cost.
Tesla just cut their cost so that their $55,000 car gets you a tax rebate.
Stupid policy.

dw
dw
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

For what it’s worth I also think there should be a rebate for non e-bikes.

Paul
Paul
1 year ago
Reply to  dw

I think that would better be called ‘all bikes’.

robert wallis
robert wallis
1 year ago
Reply to  dw

Comments like this are what makes BP great. That thought never occurred to me but should have.

canuck
canuck
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

Because E-bikes aren’t about cycling. I live adjacent to a MUP and walk to work on it. Every E-bike I see is running under power. No one is pedaling. It’s about commuting. It’s about avoiding traffic by using MUPs and bike lanes to cut through and bypass traffic. And that’s not a negative, it’s taking cars off the road and reducing congestion, but it’s not about cycling.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  canuck

My cargo e-bike won’t move if I don’t pedal it.

robert wallis
robert wallis
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

The answer to your question of why people are not riding is the simple fact that it has become more dangerous than ever before. More important, everyone knows it. Once they make biking more safe (which they will if people like BP readers keep up the pressure), ebikes will get a lot more people out of their cars. Personally, I am extremely pleased about rebates and sure hope this goes through.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 year ago

And all non electric bike purchasers must pay a $15 bike tax, and get no rebate

dw
dw
1 year ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

You pay the bike tax on e-bikes too, plus an extra $15 battery recycling fee.

Glenn F
Glenn F
1 year ago

There should probably some income exclusions to this..(say you make 100k year, you probably don’t need this rebate).
is there still a tax on new bikes in PDX ($25)..maybe this should go away?
How about they just forgo all business taxes for Bicycle shops/manufacturers in Oregon, and watch all prices on all bikes drop…?
And why is the DEQ administating this..seem odd…and they going to offer battery recycling service for these?, and how are they going to enforce someone keep the bike for a year? just does not seem like a well though out reviewed bill…
nothing but questions and 6 million dollar…

PNutZ
PNutZ
1 year ago

Why not rebates for those of us that ride a regular bike EVERYDAY? I understand the appeal of the E-Bike and I’m all for something that gets cars off the roads.

Yes, E-Bikes are convenient and make it much easier to ride around town or long distances, but these bikes still run off of Lithium batteries (not exactly “green”).

I think we should make a push towards REAL bicycles and make cycling on the road safer for everybody, rather than push another vehicle on the road. To me this shows just how unfriendly society is towards cyclists.

I ride in Salem so my experience will be slightly different than those riders in Portland, although I regularly ride in the Portland-Metro (Single-Speed 48tx16t Mercier Kilo TT Pro).

Roads are already dangerous and we have to look out for the cars that don’t pay attention (or just don’t care), bike lanes that are full of debris or bike lanes blocked by delivery trucks (usually Amazon). I’ve had multiple encounters with E-bike riders passing way too close, forcing me to be in the gutter because there are cars on the road and they cant wait to pass me safely (I average 17-20mph). I’m sure not ALL E-Bike riders are like this; but I haven’t had a different experience with one yet. E-Bikes should require a license, or a special endorsement.

A regular bike is the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation (aside from walking) and there NO incentives or rebates for that. Whether it passes or not I won’t be getting one. I actually enjoy riding my bike everywhere.

John
John
1 year ago
Reply to  PNutZ

Because regular bikes already have a very low barrier to entry. The reason for e-bikes is it gets people who otherwise wouldn’t ride any bike to ride (that’s the theory). It also enables things like cargo bikes for people who may be limited physically. But the problem is an e-bike starts at very expensive.

A regular bike you can easily get a very nice bike for under a thousand. If you’re looking to get a deal and not picky you can get a perfectly good bike for a couple hundred. None of this is true for e-bikes. So if there is a population of people out there who would ride an e-bike if they had one, but can’t afford it, this is the solution. It’s yet to be seen if that’s true, but if you’re going to make the argument that nobody wants an e-bike, that’s a very different one.

Paige
Paige
1 year ago
Reply to  PNutZ

I hear you – it would be nice to get rebates on all new bike purchases.

But with e-bike rebates, I don’t think governments are looking to “punish” “regular” bike riders, they are trying to get people out of cars, and e-bike rebates make it easier for people to give them a try, considering how pricey they can be. Consider being a non-cyclist: an e-bike can make the transition from car to bike feel a little less daunting, especially if the person who previously drove a car is also moving kids around town. That’s considerably greener than an electric vehicle, which is much heavier than an e-bike, takes up way more space on the road, and has a much larger battery. And I have a sneaking suspicion that riding an e-bike during the week could lead to more “regular” bike riding (with friends, kids, etc.).

So, e-bike rebates aren’t an affront to people who ride regular bikes. They’re an enticement to people who aren’t currently on a bike. Personally, as a regular bike rider, having more people on bikes (e- or otherwise) makes me feel safer on the road!

jakeco
jakeco
1 year ago
Reply to  PNutZ

I’m glad you’re healthy and strong and able to ride a lot. Not everyone is and having some extra help towards purchase and some extra electric oomph might get some more people cycling that wouldn’t be able to.

PNutZ
PNutZ
1 year ago

I have never had a good encounter with an E-Bike rider (I don’t really consider it a bike, its no different than an electric moped to me). I also have a difficult time understanding why anyone who regularly rides their bike would support something like this. E-Bikes are NOT green, just like electric cars are NOT green. Why not? Because Lithium and the mining of Lithium is not green. Neither of these should be getting rebates.

Those of us that commute via traditional cycling, walking, or public transit should be the ones getting a rebate; regardless of income.

This definitely shows that those in charge would rather put money towards a rebate that doesn’t need to exist, than to making cycling on the roads safer or bike lanes cleaner and not full of debris or blocked by delivery vehicles (usually Amazon)

I understand that E-Bikes make it easier to ride long distances or around town, and they certainly have a place on the road. I just don’t think that we should be paying for other people to get money back on their expensive purchase.

Where’s my rebate for walking, cycling or riding public transit?

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  PNutZ

When I see statements like this:

I have never had a good encounter with an E-Bike rider

It really says more about you than it does about the people riding e-bikes.

Fred
Fred
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris I

Not necessarily. The guy who passed me on the Springwater, on an e-bike doing 35+ mph, just a few inches from my back tire – that guy really left a negative impression. These negative impressions are what we remember, unfortunately – not the dozens of bikes that go with the flow and we don’t even notice.

It’s just gonna take someone like Mr Speedy Springwater to get a law passed regulating e-bikes. Watch for it.

Hippodamus
Hippodamus
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred

They already do this in the Netherlands. I think the way they do it is great. Class I and II ebikes (18mph max assist) are bikes. Anything over is a moped and requires a special license plate and a helmet (not required for bikes). 18mph is a perfectly great speed for commuting. Most people have no business riding 28+ mph on a bicycle.

X
X
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred

We can’t do much about Mr. Speedy but I suspect attrition of the bike or the battery will bring the karma. Some rules on new bike purchases would not be a bad thing, roughly on the level of adopting a rescue animal.

I’m ebike shopping with all deliberate speed. I just found out there’s a shop on NE Sandy that seems to be the go-to for conversions and I might go that route.

I’ve had a variety of experiences with ebike operators, the distribution seems pretty normal as far as courtesy goes. A few close passes, some on the right (!) but no personal fouls.

As of today the only bike-on-bike crash I’ve seen in Portland was instigated by a roadie shooting the gap beside motor vehicles stopped at a crosswalk and T-boning a person on a mountain bike.

John
John
1 year ago
Reply to  PNutZ

E-Bikes are NOT green

This kind of statement is meaningless out of context. Breathing air through your lungs is NOT green. But compared to what? E-bikes, especially E-cargo-bikes, are car replacements, and they absolutely are green compared to that.

chris
chris
1 year ago
Reply to  PNutZ

Excuse me while I go water the aluminum and iron trees in my backyard, oh wait, those things have to be mined also. How about those spandex outfits some bikers wear,”synthetic fabrics are known for being some of the most toxic fabrics in the environment for they require huge energy, water, oil, chemicals, and other natural resources to be produced. ” https://www.cottonique.com/blogs/blog/4-petroleum-based-fabrics-you-should-avoid

Being a modern human is not green, especially if you’re a meat eater with more than one kid, (or any kids).

BigNose
BigNose
1 year ago
Reply to  PNutZ

The benefits of using lithium batteries, which are recyclable, over continued use of fossil fuels will be immense, and have a major impact on creating a sustainable human impact on the environment. The argument against lithium is specious.

cMckone
cMckone
1 year ago

Damn, I just bought mine a few months ago lol
Also good to see my former mayor Mark Gamba hitting the ground running in Salem. He did a lot to change the direction here in Milwaukie and I think we’re gonna be a fantastic biking city in a few years

Adam
Adam
1 year ago

Hoping this passes. We were a family who would ride maybe 6 miles every two weeks during the nice months. After getting an e-cargo bike my wife is now riding 11 miles a day with one of our kids on the back, these are miles that were in a car before. We then got on the Rad Power $500 deal. With the two bikes we’ve used our 2nd car only about once a month since then. We will be selling it. It has been a game changer for us.

Jenny the Bike gal
Jenny the Bike gal
1 year ago

My question is when is the bill to
ELIMINATE the Oregon tax on bike purchases going to be proposed?

Harth
Harth
1 year ago

I have no issue with this bill other than it seems to include mountain bikes under their definition of electric bicycles, which seems to be any bicycle with electric assist over $950. I’m for tax dollars going for bikes used for commuting but not for a person’s toy just because they want a boost going uphill. I don’t know how to discriminate between the two uses, but I think it should be part of the bill.

Fred
Fred
1 year ago

Can someone please help Rep. Pham wear her bike helmet correctly? She’ll want to get the maximum protection from it if she crashes.

X
X
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred

The child in the photo appears to have a properly fitted helmet. We have evidence that Rep. Pham is a well-informed person. I suspect that the photographer or some staff person was trying to avoid the Dukakis look.

Paul
Paul
1 year ago

I hope this bill gets rewritten to include any bicycle. Only allowing e-bikes just doesn’t make sense in my mind. Regular bikes are even better for the climate and environment that E-bikes.

dw
dw
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul

I agree with you! Not to mention way more affordable. Even after the subsidy a quality (see, safe, well-built) ebike is still going to set you back a couple thousand bucks.