An act passed unanimously by the DC Council Tuesday morning is intended to incentivize Washingtonians who purchase qualifying electric bikes with up a rebate of up to $2,000.
Passed by DC Council Sept. 19 and expected to go into effect later this year, the Electric Bicycle Incentive Program Amendment Act of 2023 will provide incentives to purchase, maintain and acquire batteries and locks for e-bikes. Introduced by Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D), the program also includes coverage for disabled riders to make accessible bike modifications.
The bill creates an incentive program by providing a voucher towards purchase for lower-income residents and a rebate after purchase for all other residents. The voucher helps reduce initial cost as a barrier to e-cycling.
To be classified as low-income, one must be eligible for a public benefit program. The act will supply them with up to $2,000 and $1,500 for cargo and normal e-bikes, respectively. Other residents will be offered up to $1,000 and $750 for cargo and regular e-bikes, respectively. The act also gives grants for bike shops to train residents as bike mechanics, helping with the expected uptick in ridership.
The act could contribute towards taking cars off the road. That would support DC’s progress towards reaching sustainability goals for 2032 outlined in DC’s Sustainable DC 2.0 Plan, notably the plan’s goal of reducing commuter trips taken by car by 25%. It would also support the District’s Vision Zero goals, a program rolled out by Mayor Muriel Bowser in 2015 that aims to eliminate all traffic deaths in DC.
Additionally, bikes are effective forms of transportation in cities, Allen said.
“I hear from both younger and more senior residents that e-bikes unlock the city for riders,” the councilemember is quoted in a press release after the bill had passed. “Traffic and parking become after-thoughts.”
Avid biker and bike commuter, Jesse Koplowitz, 47, said “I think the city has done a lot to incentivize driving and using cars, and this is definitely a step in the right direction.” Though he didn’t personally know anyone who didn’t bike commute only due to cost, Koplowitz believed “it will certainly make [bike commuting] more accessible.”
The bill still needs to be signed by Mayor Bowser, reviewed by Congress, and then given to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to work out additional details, including a possible voucher system in place of rebates. But the act should be in effect and taking cars off the roads sometime soon.
Read the full bill at lims.dccouncil.gov
Theo Weller is an 11th-grade student at School Without Walls High School, as well as a lifelong Capitol Hill resident. In addition to his internship at the Hill Rag, he writes for his school newspaper, The Rookery. Reach him at Theo@hillrag.com