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eBike Rebate Incentive for New Mexico

Legislative Proposal to State of New Mexico 56th Legislature

Submitted by:

Susan Gautsch - Owner/CEO - Free-to-Roam eBiking


 

CURRENT PROBLEM: 

Auto-dependency is one of the most significant environmental issues we face in the U.S. today, due to our vast consumption of non-renewable resources and the production of greenhouse gasses (GHG) that are the key cause of global warming. While our transportation sector at large accounts for almost 30% of GHG emissions, passenger vehicles alone account for over half of that or 16.4% of our GHG emissions.1 While we focus on electric cars, less than 1% of the 250 million passenger vehicles on our roads today are electric – largely because they’re unaffordable for most Americans.2  

 

Regardless of gas or electric-power, American’s personal transportation is our 2nd largest expense after housing, thus making car ownership a significant barrier to economic opportunity.3 In 2022, the average total cost of new car ownership soared 11% to almost $900/mos.4  And yet, even with the rapid rise in gas prices in early 2022, U.S. motorists logged their highest tally of driving miles since 1970.5  

 

Beyond the economic and environmental issues, Americans today spend an average of one hour in their cars making 2.4 trips – or 6% of their waking day.6  Yet more than half of those car trips are less than 3 miles7 – followed by the search for parking with more time, fuel and emissions spent.8

 

Quantitatively, it’s clear our auto-dependency is not sustainable. At the same time multiple qualitative and personal factors are relevant as well. While we all may travel far and wide, the experience of car trips is most often physically sedentary9 and socially isolating.10  

 

PROPOSED SOLUTION: 

Electric bikes (e-bikes) have ushered in a new form of transportation across the globe. In many European and Asian countries, where biking has long been a common form of transportation, e-bikes have simply marked an improvement. In most of North America, however, where cycling has largely been for sport and recreation, e-bikes are now ushering in a somewhat radical, yet rapid, transformation in how people, of all ages and abilities, to ride from point A to point B on a daily basis – while also having fun!

 

This is possible now as e-bikes effectively erase the common barriers of traditional biking – hills, headwinds and being sweaty upon arrival. Electric bikes also serve as an equalizer bringing together families, groups and everyday travelers of all generations, physical capacity and communities. While e-bikes provide motorized assistance to the rider’s pedaling, studies show that people who own e-bikes gain more health benefits than even owners of traditional bikes. This is largely due to the fact that e-bike owners tend to ride longer, farther and more frequently than traditional cyclists12 while inactive and/or overweight people who substitute car trips for e-bike trips see spikes in their mental & physical health, happiness and overall sense of well-being. 13

 

Substituting car trips with an e-bike trip is both more affordable and significantly reduces our carbon emissions as well. Specifically, if just 15% of car trips were instead made by e-bike, our carbon emissions would see a 12% decrease.14  Electric bikes cost less than half a penny a mile to charge and can go 70 times farther than a gas-fueled car per pound of climate emissions.15 Compared to electric cars, e-bikes get 30-100 times more miles per pound of battery than electric cars.16

 

Across the globe, the Covid-19 pandemic ushered in a new era of cycling -- both electric and “acoustic” (as eBike aficionado’s like to call their battery-deprived cycles.) While the United States has been the slowest to accept bikes as a viable means of transportation, June 2020 ushered in a new era of eBiking in the US with close to a 200% increase in market growth from June 2019.  In 2021, the market increased another 240%. Today, it’s nearly a $27 billion industry with projections of reaching $52 billion by 2030 growing at a CAGR of 13.5%. 

 

While the benefits of e-bikes are numerous and significant, the main barrier to more widespread adoption in New Mexico is the upfront cost of purchasing an e-bike. Most e-bikes in the “affordable” range cost between $1200-$2000 while others with higher quality design, parts and performance can go for over $10,000. 

 

Thus, e-bike purchase incentive programs are proliferating quickly across the U.S. To date, five states have already passed and are administering e-bike incentive programs while another 5 states are in the process of passing similar legislation.17 Many of the programs specifically are designed to provide additional assistance to low-income populations to help those most in need of the affordable transportation that e-bikes enable. Similarly, e-bike incentive programs are proliferating across Europe and Asia/Pacific.18

 

RATIONALE:

 

This proposal is to develop an initial pilot program, though our broader goal is to spur a more robust e-bike incentive program to encourage and assist many more New Mexicans to reduce their car-dependency, carbon footprint and transportation expenditures while enjoying New Mexico’s beautiful outdoors. Like many other states that currently provide e-bike incentives, we believe such an incentive is key to helping our citizens change their personal behaviors toward more sustainable, affordable and healthy transportation and recreation.

 

While e-bike and other electric vehicle incentives are a critical piece in our global energy transformation, it also fits squarely within two of New Mexico’s economic development target industries: Sustainable & Green Energy and Outdoor Recreation. As the e-bike industry grows, so too will e-bike battery technology and recycling as will the growth of charging stations and solar-powered e-bikes. And lest we forget, e-biking, like traditional biking, is a rapidly growing form of outdoor recreation for all ages, abilities and communities. 

 

Currently, the top market segment purchasing e-bikes (including 3-wheeled electric trikes) are between 55 and 75 years old19 which increasingly enables multigenerational families and friend groups to ride together while increasing mobility for older adults and people with disabilities.20 Additionally, anecdotal evidence and empirical studies show that e-bikes increase women’s confidence while providing less fit women with more empowering physical experiences.21 While e-bikes enable more inclusivity and community gathering, we believe e-bike incentives will also enable greater equity in outdoor recreation and transportation. 


 

  1. https://graphics.reuters.com/AUTOS-ELECTRIC/USA/mopanyqxwva/

  2. AAA's annual "Your Driving Costs" report. "Your Driving Costs" report.

  3. Brookings Institute Cars remain king and barrier to economic opportunity.”

  4. AAA Driving Survey

  5. The Maryland Transportation Institute analyzed “an anonymized national panel of mobile device data from multiple sources,”

  6. Volpe - DOT https://www.volpe.dot.gov/news/how-much-time-do-americans-spend-behind-wheel

  7. https://insideevs.com/news/585399/majority-daily-car-trips-less-three-miles/

  8. USA Today Parking Pain causes financial and personal strain 

  9. TheBMJ: Getting sedentary people moving through active travel

  10. US News: commentary-how-car-free-streets-can-combat-loneliness

  11. https://www.emcins.com/losscontrol/insights-d/2020/08/speed-increases-risk/

  12. Health benefits of ebiking - Physical activity of electric bicycle users compared to conventional bicycle users and non-cyclists: Insights based on health and transport data from an online survey in seven European cities

  13. National Library of Medicine

  14. CONGRESSMAN PANETTA INTRODUCES E-BIKE ACT TO ENCOURAGE USE OF ELECTRIC BICYCLES AND REDUCE CARBON EMISSIONS

  15. E-Bike Research Shows Environmental and Economic Benefits

  16. E-Bike 1000 MPG Project

  17. E-bike Incentive Programs in North America: New Online Tracker

  18. Climate Action Center: eBike Incentive Programs across World 

  19. eBike Facts & Statistics https://www.ebicycles.com/ebike-facts-statistics/

  20. E-Bikes Increase Mobility Access for Older Adults and People with Disabilities

  21.  Active Travel Studies 1- Exploring the Role of Electric Bikes in Increasing Women’s Access to Cycling and Physical Activity”,

 

NEW STUDY: maybe include in text.

It's electric! Measuring energy expenditure and perceptual differences between bicycles and electric-assist bicycles Journal of Transport & Health

Volume 27, December 2022

Highlights

Individuals expended about 13% less energy on e-bicycles compared to conventional bicycles on a steady-state ride.

E-bikes and conventional bicycles provided moderate intensity physical activity.

Individuals reported higher enjoyment on the e-bike.

Individuals reported less exertion and difficulty on the e-bike.

Most participants reported preferring the e-bike for commute travel.

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