Mass. Clean Energy Center Awards $3 Million to New E-Bike Subsidy Programs

Cargo bikes and bike trailers parked on a sidewalk outside a Whole Foods Market in New York City
Cargo bikes and trailers are parked on the sidewalk outside the Whole Foods Market on Houston Street in New York City in this 2019 file photograph. Courtesy of StreetsblogNYC.

On Wednesday, the Baker-Polito administration announced that a new statewide clean transportation grant program will award nearly $3 million to five regional e-bike subsidy programs.

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) new Accelerating Clean Transportation for All (ACT4All) program will award funding for 10 projects that will, according to a state press release, “help disadvantaged communities address transportation needs and burdens with innovative, clean transportation solutions.”

Half of the winning grants will support regional programs to promote the use of pedal-assist e-bikes, especially in lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

In the press release accompanying the grant announcements, Governor Baker said that “projects receiving funding through the ACT4All program will put us one step closer to a transportation system that not only combats climate change but does so in a way that works for all residents.”

The state’s total funding to e-bike programs amounts to just under $3 million, and an additional $2 million were allocated to other vehicle electrification and efficiency programs.

By comparison, the Baker administration has budgeted $54 million to its MOR-EV program, which subsidizes electric car purchases. A StreetsblogMASS analysis last year found that the majority of the MOR-EV program’s payments have gone to households living in the state’s wealthiest communities.

Awardees that will receive funding from the new ACT4All grants include:

‘Boston Delivers’ cargo bike delivery pilot

The City of Boston will soon issue a request for proposals for an cargo e-bike delivery service to serve residents and local businesses in and near the Allston neighborhood. The pilot will build on a 2020 “request for information” from delivery companies “to understand how e-cargo bikes could fit into Boston’s delivery landscape.”

Details of how the service would work remain to be determined, but according to Harper Mills, a program manager from the Boston Transportation Department’s New Mobility team, the city expects to enter into an agreement with a third-party service operator that would procure and operate a fleet of bikes, carry out deliveries, and manage logistics.

The pilot would also test new infrastructure that might be needed for bike-based deliveries, like dedicated loading zones for small vehicles and neighborhood distribution hubs.

Mills told StreetsblogMASS that the program could launch early this summer, and the pilot would last 18 months with the potential for expansion if it succeeds. The City will also work with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council to apply findings from the pilot program to other municipalities that might be interested in soliciting similar delivery services.

Pioneer Valley e-bike ownership and ValleyBike passes

The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission also won a grant to expand access to the regional ValleyBike bikesharing system and fund the purchase of 50 new e-bikes for low income households in an effort to replace car trips with less expensive bike trips.

According to Pioneer Valley Planning Commission spokesperson Pat Beaudry, the grant will also fund outreach efforts from local community-based organizations to find and enroll potential participants. That outreach will start by signing more people up for the existing ValleyBike access pass program, which provides free use of ValleyBike’s shared pedal-assist e-bikes to income-qualified individuals.

MassBike to deploy 100 e-bikes in Worcester

MassBike, working in collaboration with the Major Taylor Association, Worcester Chamber of Commerce, WalkBike Worcester, and the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission, plans to use its grant funding to distribute about 100 e-bikes to lower-income households in Worcester.

“We’re going to seek people who are income-eligible and don’t have good access to transportation. And there’s an education component – we’re going to be helping them learn to navigate streets, how to ride safely, and introduce them to the bike advocacy community in Worcester,” said Galen Mook, MassBike’s executive director, in a phone call with StreetsblogMASS on Wednesday. “We’re hoping to convert people who are primarily using combustion engines to shift to using e-bikes for more trips.”

Worcester residents who might be interested in participating can learn more at massbike.org/ebikeworcester.

More e-bike incentive programs for Gateway Cities, Cape Cod, and Martha’s Vineyard

The single biggest grant award from the new ACT4All program was a $1 million award to Metro Mobility, the company behind the Park & Pedal hubs that are scattered across Boston’s suburbs. According to a state press release, Metro Mobility “will deploy three different e-bike ownership and share models in Greater Boston municipalities, including Gateway Cities such as Quincy and Malden” and “work with affordable housing organizations and employers to serve low-income residents, essential workers, and renters in Environmental Justice areas.”

In Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, the Cape Light Compact, a regional energy efficiency services company, will deploy a point-of-sale rebate program for e-bike buyers in partnership with local bike shops, with a focus on lower-income buyers.

 

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