For District of Columbia residents, an ebike purchase incentive is coming

Dewey

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Arlington, Virginia
The District of Columbia Council today announced their intention to introduce an e-bike purchase incentive for residents. The primary legislation is not yet available so the only details are from their press release that says “Fifty percent of the rebates are reserved for residents who earn below 80% of the median family income”, (which works out to be about $75k). “The rebate vouchers may only be used to purchase an electric bicycle or electric cargo bicycle at a bike shop located in the District.” Amount yet to be announced.

As with Denver, CO, this plan leverages the investments made in building separated bicycle lanes in recent years. However for residents interested in the rebate it’s worth noting DC law only permits a “Motorized Bicycle” equivalent to Class 1 & 2 ebikes in bike lanes or other bicycle infrastructure.
 
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Bill text of CM Pinto's bill titled the B25-0032, the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstarting the Environment (“E-BIKE”) Act of 2023 is now online here, key part is the rebate will apply only to Class 1 & 2 ebikes, described in DC as a "Motorized Bicycle".

"Residents at/above 80% of median family income, rebate would be $400 or 30% of bike price, whichever is less, plus an additional $500 for cargo bikes. Below that income, $1,200 or 75% of bike price."
 
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Update: a second proposal from another DC Councilmember, CM Allen, is now on the DC legislative system as
B25-0115 - Electric Bicycle Rebate Program Amendment Act of 2023

Under this proposal the rebate would still only apply to Class 1 & 2 e-bikes, but would be a point of sale discount, and the revised bill wording introduces requirements for eligible e-bikes to meet safety requirements issued by CPSC or any other District or federal agency that has issued safety standards for, as determined by the District of Columbia Dept of Transportation (DDOT) who would be expected to publish on its website lists of eligible models and authorized retailers.
 
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The recording of the DC Council session held on March 16 to discuss the two proposals is on Facebook at https://fb.watch/jkabLklEqZ/

In summary, the Washington Area Bicycle Association offered support for CM Allen's proposal and asked Council require eligible e-bikes to be UL certified. People for Bikes also offered support for CM Allen's proposal and recommend eligibility be limited to e-bikes that meet those safety standards listed in their written testimony. Underwriters Laboratory urged DC Council to make eligibile only e-bikes that adhere to UL 2849. Charlie McCormick of ElectriCity Bikes warned that using UL 2849 as the standard would limit eligible e-bikes to only Bosch bikes that are $2500 and up and will affect affordability. CM Allen mentioned Council had been in contact with their counterparts in New York and want to take seriously the concerns raised around e-bike battery safety. Several public witnesses asked the program also include money to pay for child seats and helmets.
 
I got the feeling listening to Mr McCormick’s testimony he was referring to the brands he sells. He mentioned his shop is a fulfillment center for several DTC brands as well as the high end brands he has out on the shop floor, and I think he wouldn’t want to only be able to sell a Gazelle City as his least expensive bike, but would rather sell hundreds of non-UL-certified cheaper ebikes.
 
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Strange, I don't see any mention of DTC brands on his site

Also just noticed that Aventon stopped listing stores in DC though I still see stock at Conte's.
 
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Great post, thank you for compiling and writing this.

I agree with the advisory council, that the emaciated funding in Denver makes a mockery of the concept, and yet it gets so much breathless uncritical coverage. That's probably my biggest concern, that we underfund it, and worse, go with Allen's more costly proposal to boot, and it becomes this performative bill.

I like the idea of a brake replacement voucher, and I honestly wonder what kinds of dangerous issues bike shops are seeing, and tailoring it to that.

I'm not sure there's a need for public charging anything like there is in NYC (huge city area, huge delivery volumes, etc), and I'm skeptical that these delivery workers are filling an essential niche typically. Maybe the city could coordinate something with bike shops.

I'd also like to see some consideration of a bait bike/bike theft sting operation, designed to elicit hardcore thieves. Nowhere near as bad a problem as NYC, but it only takes a few serial thieves to make it a big problem, and theft is devastating. It's plausible a surge of ebikes will yield a surge of thefts.
 
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The 2024 District of Columbia budget passed this week and it includes $803,000 and 1FTE for DDOT to administer CM Allen's Electric Bicycle Rebate Program Amendment Act of 2023
(Source: page 33)
 
July update: The bill has passed out of the Transportation Committee with some amendments, the full text of the Committee Print version of the bill is now at the end of this report link https://lims.dccouncil.gov/.../B25-0115-Committee_Report1.... For the bill to be enacted still requires a second vote after DC Council reconvenes in September. The two main amendments appear to be: rebates will only apply to e-bikes in compliance with UL 2849 or batteries in compliance with UL 2272, and 50% of the value of rebates is reserved for preferred applicants who participate in certain programs including TANF, SNAP, Medicaid, or DC Healthcare Alliance. Eligible e-bikes continue to be described under the same wording as DC Motorized Bicycles ie Class 1 and 2 e-bikes. Enforcement is left to DDOT who are supposed to publish a list of authorized retailers.
 
September update: Reportedly DC Council voted on Monday 9/18/23 to pass the e-bike rebate bill - the DC LIMS system still shows the bill # B25-0115 as being Under Council Review. DC DDOT will issue the program details some time in 2024.
 
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