Tag Archive: incentive programmes

  1. E-bike incentives proven to reduce car travel and carbon emissions

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    Source: The University of British Columbia

    Study finds that rebate programmes are worth the investment due to significant environmental impact.

    Electric bicycle rebates have surged in popularity across North America as urban planners aim to steer individuals away from cars towards healthier, environmentally friendly alternatives. However, there is limited understanding of the full impact of these incentives.

    Insights from the Research on Active Transportation (REACT) Lab at the University of British Columbia (UBC) shed light on questions including whether these new cycling habits are sustainable, who benefits the most from incentives, and whether they are worth the cost. The study surveyed participants in an e-bike incentive program in Saanich, B.C., researchers discovered that the majority of new e-bike users sustained their biking habits as a substitute for car travel even a year post-purchase. Particularly, households with lower incomes exhibited the most significant reductions in car trips and carbon emissions, indicating that incentives effectively contribute to emission reduction.

    Reduced car travel

    The Saanich program, available from 2021 to 2022, offered varying rebates to offset e-bike costs. The rebate varied depending on household income, with the highest rebate reaching $1,600 for low-income households, and the lowest rebate amounting to $350. The results showcased a substantial uptake in e-bike adoption, with 93% of users being new to e-bikes and 60% entirely new to cycling.

    A year after the purchase, users remained content with their e-bikes, integrating them into their routines for 3-4 days each week. On average, they reduced weekly car travel by 48 kilometers, marking a 30-40% reduction.

    Principal investigator Dr. Alex Bigazzi, an associate professor of civil engineering at UBC leading REACT, emphasized “the enduring influence of incentives, especially among lower-income groups”The incentive not only encouraged people to switch to e-bikes, it also resulted in remarkable changes in travel behaviour that persisted long after the purchase,“.

    Notably, low income groups were most affected by incentives. 8 out of 10 would not have purchased an e-bike without the $1,600 incentive, compared to just 2 out of 10 of the $350 incentive group.

    Lower carbon emissions

    Reduced car usage translated into a notable decrease in travel-related greenhouse gas emissions, with users cutting down emissions by 16 kilograms of CO2 per week on average, one year after buying their e-bikes. Particularly, those benefiting from larger incentives displayed the most substantial reductions in car use and carbon emissions.

    The larger incentives aimed at lower-income families did a great job getting new riders in the saddle and gave them a lower-cost alternative to using their cars,” Dr. Bigazzi said.

    Greater cost-effectiveness compared to EV rebates

    Contrary to popular criticism regarding their cost-effectiveness relative to climate benefits, the Saanich program proved competitive with other transportation subsidies in Canada, costing approximately $190 to $720 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions reduced. Dr. Bigazzi emphasized the superiority of e-bike incentives over electric vehicle rebates in emission reduction, underscoring additional benefits such as increased physical activity and reduced travel costs.

    The REACT Lab, in collaboration with the Province of B.C. and other researchers, is expanding its study to encompass the provincewide e-bike incentive program. This broader investigation will encompass factors such as climate variability, terrain, and cycling infrastructure, providing a more comprehensive understanding of their impacts.

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