On Monday, December 5, 2022, Atlanta City Council introduced legislation to launch an e-bike rebate program for Atlanta residents. A working group, including Propel ATL and other organizations, will explore programs and lessons learned in Denver, Boston, and other cities to make recommendations for an Atlanta program.
What is an e-bike? An electric bike, or e-bike, is a bicycle with an electric motor powered by a rechargeable battery that assists with pedaling.
Why e-bikes? E-bikes have proven potential to replace car trips. A 2021 study found access to e-bikes reduced people’s driving trips by 21%.
That means benefits to the climate (transportation creates more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector of the U.S. economy), expanded access to jobs and opportunity (it costs Atlantans about $11,000 annually to own a private car), health (e-bikes overcome hills and distance, making biking more accessible to more people), and traffic congestion, creating a more livable city.
In talking to community members, elected officials, and local bike shops, one big challenge emerged to e-bikes: affordability. Most e-bikes are priced around $1000-$2000, but more advanced models can cost $3000 or more. While still more affordable than car ownership, the expense is beyond the reach of the many Atlanta families who don't have access to a car.
Incentive programs being implemented across the U.S. are providing greater access to e-bikes for sustainable transportation, especially for individuals and communities most impacted by ongoing racial injustices, systemic oppression, lack of economic opportunity, and racial disparities. Atlanta's effort should take a "targeted universalism" approach: setting universal goals for the program and pursuing those goals through targeted means.
There are many lessons Atlanta could learn from other cities — both successes and challenges — and we're excited to explore those programs with the working group.
E-bikes are changing mobility in cities, and we would like to hear from you. Please take a minute to tell us about your interest in e-bikes: take a survey.