Cities, Nonprofits Begin Rolling Out New Incentive Programs for E-Bike Purchases

A young bicyclist rides a folding electric bike down a street.
A young bicyclist rides a folding electric bike down a street.

Last month, City of Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced a $1.5 million e-bike rebate program during a press conference focused on improving people’s experiences biking in the Boston area. 

The rebate program, funded through the American Rescue Plan Act and available to older adults and people with disabilities, “will be a ‘proof of concept’ investment, accompanied by research to understand the impacts of e-bikes on everyday bicycling among older adults and people with disabilities within Boston,” a City of Boston spokesperson told StreetsblogMASS in an email last month.  

“The research will inform our continued advocacy for inclusion of e-bikes in larger electric vehicle subsidy programs at the state and federal level,” the spokesperson added.

To help meet its goal of delivering all rebates towards the end of 2024, the city is focused on hiring a full-time program manager to work with partners across city departments and community organizations, as well as a research partner, which is yet to be identified and contracted.  

A number of other cities have started offering similar incentives. Denver began offering incentives for new e-bike purchases earlier this year, with rebates that range from $400 for standard bikes to $1,700 for eligible low-income buyers. To date, the program has helped finance over 4,000 new e-bike purchases.

As part of a $492,286 grant obtained by the state earlier this year, Boston is also working with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) on a separate pilot project involving e-cargo bike delivery in the neighborhood of Allston, with the hope to apply lessons from the pilot project to municipalities throughout the region.

The e-cargo bike delivery project is one of five other e-bike pilot projects funded through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) as part of the Accelerating Clean Transportation for All Program (ACT4All), totaling around $3 million dollars. 

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Each pilot program demonstrates unique features and program design principles catered to their intended applicants,” Danielle Burney, Deputy Communications Director with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, told StreetsblogMASS in an email earlier this month. 

This summer, the Massachusetts legislature finally passed a bill that formally defines and legalizes “Class 1” and “Class 2” e-bikes, which are pedal- and throttle-assisted electric bikes that assist the rider at speeds up to 20 miles per hour.

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MassBike, one of the state’s grant awardees, received more than 1,100 applications and expects to finalize the selection process by the end of the month, according to an update posted on their website. 

The non-profit, in partnership with local groups, is distributing around a thousand e-bikes to low-income residents across the city of Worcester, and tracking their usage throughout the two-year pilot. 

“Currently, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) is closely monitoring the progress of these five e-bike pilot projects, and is awaiting for the collection of data from these projects before proceeding with a potential incentive program,” added Burney. 

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