Wednesday, February 01, 2023

E-bike incentives work

Currently the government's strategy for reducing transport emissions hinges on boosting vehicle fuel-efficiency, via the clean car standard and clean car discount, and some improvements to public transport. The former has been hugely successful, and has clearly set us on the right path, but its also not enough, and will still leave us with clogged cities (albeit cleaner ones). So what else can we do? The big hole in our transport policy is around e-bikes. And it turns out that data from the US shows that supporting these is more cost-effective than subsidising EVs:

researchers have found that e-bikes can displace gasoline miles quite effectively, too. When a household buys an e-bike, their driving (as measured by vehicle miles traveled, or VMT) decreases by more than a third. While not as much as a ZEV, which cuts 100% of gasoline VMT, the lower cost of stimulating e-bike sales with rebates more than makes up the difference. When that is taken into consideration, an e-bike subsidy is 2.9 times more effective per dollar at displacing gasoline miles than a ZEV subsidy.
Which sounds like its something worth throwing into the mix. This isn't an either/or, and we don't have to go the whole way towards David Slack's proposal of preposterous audacity (free, locally-built e-bikes for all!), but directing some ETS or clean-car discount revenue towards incentivising e-bikes would be worth doing, and give us less clogged cities.