Subsidies for e-cars but not e-bikes?


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    The latest federal budget provides a lot of taxpayer money to subsidize electric cars, but nothing for electric bikes. This seems like a huge miss for the government’s stated priorities. More cars increases congestion, requires expensive infrastructure, and many resources to build. E-bikes can get people out of cars and so reduce congestion, improve health and so on. Disappointing.


    That’s interesting insight. It was probably overlooked in the grand scheme of things from the perspective of a culture that is car dominant, and because bicycles are generally much cheaper than the automobile counterpart. But in theory it’s actually an even better idea, because they’re so much more accessible given price point. Take for example some of the 2000-2500k ebikes available — how much more likely would they be taken up by commuters if they were 1500-2000k, or 1000-1500k?

    The Giant Quick-E+ from this year looks like a fantastic commuter, for example, and is about 3.5k give or take. That product seems like a great one to subsidize for urban use. It’s at a much lower price point than cars, so it’d be much easier for a government sanctioned route, but maybe they’d get too much flak? Perhaps some sort of local subsidizing route would be easier. Or even under a different name/purpose, such as parks. Taxpayers love parks!

    Gary Millard

    That’s a great point @Charlie ! Here is a news article about the type of promotion you are suggesting:

    Let’s make sure our politicians hear these suggestions and that their constituents care about cycling as a method of active transport.


    for what it’s worth, I sent an email on this to my MP and the Ministers of Finance and Environment. no responses yet…

    Garry Lohuis

    I agree. The best way to communicate this is with your local elected representatives. Also e-bike manufacturers need to step up their lobbying efforts similar to what electric car makers have done.


    Yeah, I agree they should give the Subsidies on electric bikes…


    Just got back from a couple weeks in Japan. It was incredible, astounding actually, the number of cyclists and bikes everywhere. Generally bikes/peds shared a transportation “lane” somewhat split with only a solid yellow textured line, and generally stayed off the busier roads (non on major highways). During the whole time I saw many cyclists effortlessly weaving in and out of pedestrians/walkers, NOBODY ever got upset or vocal. Everyone just accepted it and kept on with their day. It was awesome. I never witnessed any obvious angst or issues.

    The second observation was the vast number of ebikes there. I looked at a couple stores and their equivalent price was ~$1500-4’ish thousand. VERY common on all types of bikes. Just accepted as a part of their culture and utility for all types of riding: commuting, transporting up to 2 kids, transporting goods, etc… It was very refreshing to see how commonly they were accepted.

    3rd observation was that most riders had some type of front nightlight… generally some solid or blinky white light. most, not all. a small percentage had rear lights, or even reflectors. I never witnessed any obvious angst or issues.

    These observations are based on traveling through Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo, Toyama, and Hakuba.


    I don’t see a place to post this question about ebikes, so I’ll try here. Has anyone estimated the % time saved riding an ebike on their commute versus a regular hybrid commuter bike? I’m wondering what the time savings/% average speed increase would be to determine if worth investing in for a longer commute.

    Garry Lohuis

    FYI, I have just sent an email to my conservative MP, Pat Kelley. They have announced a revival of the public transit tax credit in their platform. My question is why not for bicycles? I will post again if I get a reply.


    Has anyone estimated the % time saved riding an ebike on their commute versus a regular hybrid commuter bike? I’m wondering what the time savings/% average speed increase would be to determine if worth investing in for a longer commute.

    It’s an interesting question, I think, because you have to factor in the pathway speed limit. If the vast majority of your route is on pathway, then it won’t change much aside from making everything more consistent. If you’re doing it purely to go faster, I would recommend against this just because the more people causing problems the more crack down there will be. If it’s mostly on road, more options open up. The first person to cause a serious scene on an ebike is going to cast a huge shadow on the public’s mind.

    Here’s my experience. This summer I bought an ebike. I was worried that having that power available, I would be more inclined to make poor decisions, such as going when I shouldn’t or riding faster than I should. Or misjudging.
    Before, I was too weak and too sick to keep up with anybody on the pathway. When I first started I could easily ride 25-28kmh in the summer, but slowly and slowly I found myself dipping under the 20kmh speed limit or often crawling at 10-15kmh. Which really put a damper on my commuting. The ebike makes everything consistent, even if I’m not feeling well.

    It also makes it possible to keep up with the speeders on the pathway. To see what they’re really doing. To evaluate peoples/pedestrians complaints.
    Without a doubt, those folks whizzing on the pathway are maintaining 30kmh. The fastest fellow I followed behind for a several km clip was maintaining 35kmh. It’s given me perspective: is 20kmh really an appropriate speed limit for a commuter bike path? Would I endorse a 30kmh speed limit (or rather, 32kmh, as is the popular 20mph moniker)?

    My opinion is this. Yes, I think 30kmh is an okay speed for the pathway system.
    However. Every single person I found doing that speed was the same person who was not giving others ample warning when passing. They would not ring a bell, or would not merge into the full other lane. They would not slow and were very pushy about passing. On THEIR time. In short, they did not care at all about the experience of anyone else except themselves. If the other person did not figure out they were passing they did not care. And that I can’t support at all. I’m comfortable enough saying fuck those people. If you do this, fucking stop. That’s it. Point blank.

    Riding an ebike gave me perspective on how users want to use the pathway in regards to speed. But to my first concern, about whether it would encourage me to ride worse, I actually found the opposite. The bike made up for any of my weaknesses and inconsistencies, which meant that passing when I shouldn’t pass did not become more of an issue. I did not misjudge passes, because in every scenario I played it safe knowing I’d have the ability to make up for it and the momentum was not a problem. I had the power, and I did not need to “use that power” against “others” to “get my way.” The power meant I could wait.
    Do I feel like everyone on an ebike would respect this? No. Would they ruin it for everyone else? Yes. I think that people by nature are selfish. So I’m torn.

    The basic math is simple but extremely variable.
    If you’re riding a hybrid bike and averaging 20kmh, but every so often you dip to 10kmh or have several start or stops, it’s going to be very different on an ebike where you’re averaging 25kmh, with no dips, and your stops are faster to get going. But what of hills, conditions, and distance?

    For me, my commute is 18km and the route home is all uphill. It has several roads. On my hybrid, while sick, it was hard for me to maintain a steady speed. So let’s say the morning ride would be around 45m on average, ranging 40-50. And the afternoon ride would be around an hour and 20 minutes, ranging 1:10-1:30. In the winter or poor weather, add another 10-20 minutes. The ebike made it so both ways was a consistent 45m. If I was speeding, at best I saved up to 35 minutes. So, not really worth it in the grand scheme of things. I think if speed is imperative, and the distance is long, it crosses into automotive territory for consideration. Ten minutes isn’t enough for me to change modes or ride recklessly, especially when there’s some common sense available to balance the situations.

    If we think of it in terms of regular time/speed/distance.
    An 18km route at 20kmh with no variation and no stops will take 54 minutes. At 25kmh it’s 43.2 minutes.
    For a 10km route, 20kmh is 30 minutes. 25kmh is 24 minutes. 30kmh is 20 minutes.
    For a regular bike, factor in speed variation/skill level at speed maintenance, wind factors, and uphills (or down).
    For an ebike, consistency is much easier, wind becomes no problem and hills become no problem. You can maintain the same speed, or very close to it. So on average, I would say it does not necessarily make the commute faster at all, unless you have factors that prevent consistency. If consistency (health, wind, hills, skill) is an issue, the ebike can save time.

    For me it was night and day and I would not look back. I love the ebike and wish I could subsidize them for everyone in the city. But I’d need to think about it more. For example, do I unleash 32kmh beasts, or 25kmh? Definitely no throttle [and frankly the rest of the world doesn’t even consider those bikes, as they shouldn’t]. I think a torque sensor or combined torque sensor is a must as well. Then battery level becomes a consideration, and weight… The “perfect” ebike doesn’t exist yet. But hopefully soon.

    Garry Lohuis

    Great comments on ebikes. Let me give you a perspective from the Netherlands. In 2018 of all new bicycles sold, 40 % were ebikes. This is in a country with very few hills. Ebikes are now big business in Holland. One of the policies that helped move this along were tax credits for both riders and companies who encourage cycling. Many of my cousins are now over the age of 60. My family comes from a largely rural area in the east part of the country. I have asked them why an ebike? The overwhelming response is that they have the ability to travel much longer distances. Instead of doing a 20 km trip they can easily do a 100 km trip. In some cases because of health issues many of the older cousins have not been on a bike for many years. The comment from these folks was ebikes have given them freedom to again do something that they love. Ebikes are a natural for a hilly city like Calgary. I expect to see huge growth in ebike use in Calgary as prices come down and choice increases.

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