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.”
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.