E-Bike Rebates Would Reduce Emissions and Expand Transportation Options in DC

Written Testimony
Dacey Romberg, Sierra Club District of Columbia Chapter
For a Public Hearing on
Bill 25-0032, the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstarting the Environment (E-BIKE) Act of 2023 and Bill 25-115, the Electric Bicycle Rebate Program Amendment Act of 2023
Before the Council of the District of Columbia’s
Committee on Transportation and the Environment
29 March 2023

Chair Allen and members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony regarding Bills 25-0032 and 25-115. My name is Dacey Romberg, and I am submitting testimony on behalf of the Sierra Club DC Chapter. Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters nationwide. The DC chapter has about 10,000 members and supporters in the District of Columbia.

According to the District of Columbia’s Multimodal Long-Range Transportation Planalso known as moveDC, transportation is the District’s second highest source of carbon emissions, accounting for 21% of such emissions.[1] Sustainable DC has a goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 60% by 2032, just nine years away.[2] The District is bound by the DC Climate Commitment Act to reduce GHG emissions by 60% by 2030 and to reach carbon neutrality by 2045.[3] These goals will require quickly reducing the number of DC residents’ miles traveled by fossil-powered vehicles.

Coupled with dedicated resources for protected bike lane infrastructure, the proposed electric bike rebate bills would help the District reach its climate goals, clean its air, and reduce its dependence on cars. Other jurisdictions have implemented similar rebate programs with positive and impactful results. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in a study with the Colorado Energy Office found that low-income individuals who became owners of e-bikes with the help of rebates used the bikes for 30% of their trips, more than they used ride shares or single-occupancy vehicles.[4]  The study also found that e-bikes reduced participants’ travel time and increased their productivity. The results suggest that e-bike rebates, supported by education, can help meet both sustainability and equity goals.

According to the ClimateAction Center, e-bikes can travel 70 times as far as a 30 mile-per-gallon fossil-powered vehicle per pound of climate emissions, and even a small economy fossil-fueled car emits 56 times more emissions than an e-bike.[5] Widespread adoption of e-bikes by District residents could therefore greatly reduce District transportation-related emissions. E-bikes benefit users as well, costing less than a penny per mile to charge.[6]

By providing instant rebates at the point-of-purchase for e-bikes and cargo e-bikes, both your and Councilmember Pinto’s bills would reduce cost barriers to entry and help more District residents benefit from electric bicycles. The increased rebate for residents with lower median family incomes would foster equitable access to e-bikes. We also applaud your bill’s rebates for replacement batteries, bike locks, and parts to accommodate disabilities, as well as its grants to support the opening of bike shops in Wards 7 and 8.

Both bills are welcome policy solutions for helping meet the District’s climate and pollution targets by getting more DC residents to take fewer and shorter car trips. Thank you again for the opportunity to submit this written testimony.

[1]  MoveDC, Multimodal Long-Range Transportation Plan, https://movedc.dc.gov/, page 13.

[2] MoveDC, Multimodal Long-Range Transportation Plan, https://movedc.dc.gov/, page 13.

[3] D.C. Law 24-176


[5] https://www.climateaction.center/e-bike-studies, “Ebike 1000 MPG Project” & “Electric bike vs. car: The environmental benefits of using an electric bike instead of a car”

[6] Same.