Congressman Panetta’s E-Bike Act Discriminates Against Bicyclists

Congressman Jimmy Panetta recently introduced the E-BIKE Act that financially benefits purchasers of electric-motorized bicycles (e-bikes). The Act has a major loophole (the $1500 tax credit can be claimed by riders who intend to use their e-bikes solely for off-road, recreational activities) and just as disturbing, it is highly prejudicial to riders who choose non-motorized bicycles for transportation.

Congressman Panetta says that “cutting our carbon output” and encouraging “more Americans to transition to greener modes of transportation” are what justifies his tax kick back. Excluding non-motorized bicycles (that cut carbon output even more than e-bikes) is counterproductive to Panetta’s stated goals and highly discriminatory especially to lower income riders who will find the cost of a new e-bike and its maintenance well above that of a non-motorized bicycle. 

Congressman Panetta was effectively lobbied by e-bike trade organizations who were looking to benefit their members’ sales more than benefit the environment. Either that or his staff did a very poor job during their research. Tax credits to encourage bicycle commuting (that includes e-bikes) have been successfully implemented in other countries and, more locally, by the Redwood Coast Energy Authority. 

If you feel that the E-BIKE Act is discriminatory and poorly defined, you may want to drop a note to your congressional representative and make them aware of this prejudicial act. Click this link to find your congressional representatives.

Higher entry fee: Specialized’s entry-level commuter e-bike (left) sells for $3250 minus $975 in proposed tax credits. If you opt for the company’s non-motorized $650 Sirrus 1.0, you’d get nothing. Both bike are used for the same purpose. Congressman Panetta’s act incentivizes motorized transportation.
No Tax Break For You: The $709 KHS Urban X is more affordable than any comparable electric-motorized bike and it leaves a smaller carbon footprint on the planet. Since the bike isn’t motorized, you get no incentive from the E-BIKE Act. You are getting robbed.

About the author: Jim “Jimmy Mac” McIlvain was Editor of Mountain Bike Action Magazine and Road Bike Action Magazine and a contributing editor of Electric Bike Action Magazine. He has been used as a resource by land management agencies in developing e-bike and mountain bike policy. Jimmy welcomes feedback or questions from land management agencies, retailers and riders who deal with e-bike issues. The Jimmy Mac On Two Wheels website is self-funded.

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