The Baker administration is developing a new financial incentive to help more Bay State residents purchase electric pedal-assist bicycles, according to officials in the Governor's Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA).
According to the same presentation, the program is being designed to "provide incentives for e-bike purchases focused on vehicles used by commuters or delivery applications," and could be carried out under existing executive authority at the Governor's office, without necessarily waiting for legislative approval.
The e-bike incentive program is part of a shift in strategies to promote more walking, biking, and transit use among Massachusetts residents in the commonwealth's latest climate action plan.
"We're placing more emphasis on strategies to reduce total vehicle miles traveled," said Judy Chang, the Undersecretary of Energy for Governor Baker's Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, in a recent public hearing on the state's new Clean Energy & Climate Plan for 2030. "At the end of the day, the less we use cars, the better it is for congestion, and the better it is for the environment."
Electric car sales in Massachusetts are falling far behind the state's expectations, and to meet its climate goals, Chang said that "Massachusetts residents need to drive a little less. Hopefully that's because of better biking and pedestrian infrastructure and more housing near transit, and less people driving to commute to work."
E-bikes are also specifically mentioned in Governor Baker's proposed infrastructure bond bill, which would authorize $150 million for the EEA's electric vehicle incentive programs, including "the development and implementation of incentive programs promoting e-bikes and public transportation."
According to EEA press officials, the state is seeking federal grants for this and other new electric vehicle incentive programs from the new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The details of how an e-bike incentive program could work in Massachusetts are likely to be dependent on what the federal government would allow and fund.
The commonwealth is still "waiting for guidance from the federal government on its matching grant programs," according to an EEA official.