Government subsidies can do a lot to influence consumer behavior. The U.S. has had laws in place that subsidize those who purchase hybrids and electric cars, and they’ve no doubt helped to spur the sales of these green vehicles. France has recently adopted subsidies designed to encourage shoppers to purchase e-bikes.
- French lawmakers have announced that e-bike owners in the greater Paris metro area may soon be able to get a government e-bike subsidy.
- The subsidy will cover half the cost of the bike, up to 500 euros.
- The measure is meant to encourage e-bike usage in the City of Lights.
Paris has an air-pollution problem
Many people flock to Paris for the tasty cuisine and the chance to catch a glimpse of the iconic Eiffel Tower. However, in recent years, the city has become known for something that’s not exactly tourist-friendly: oppressive air pollution.
On some days, it’s hard to see the Eiffel Tower through all that Parisian smog. (Photo: Pexels)
The issue came to head earlier this year when a decision was made in a case involving a mother (52) her daughter (16). The two claim that their health had deteriorated while living near a busy Parisian roadway. The suit alleges that French authorities did not take sufficient steps to protect against air pollution, especially during a particularly bad period in December of 2016. The mother and daughter who initiated the lawsuit say that poor air quality was to blame for their chronic bronchitis and asthma problems. They assert that these problems disappeared once they left Paris to live in Orléans, a city in central France.
Though the court rejected the mother and daughter’s demand for damages of $143,000, it ruled that the French government had failed to take adequate action to alleviate air pollution in Paris, and the verdict has been hailed as a landmark decision. The BBC reports that there are roughly 40 similar cases awaiting judgement in neighboring French cities.
EVs vs. e-bikes
Here in the U.S., we offer tax breaks for those purchasing EVs. And trailblazing California offers a voucher program that provides a subsidy for those seeking to trade in their old gas guzzlers for EVs, hybrids or e-bikes. But there is no nationwide program in place to subsidize e-bike adoption.
These subsidies are an idea worth exploring. Research conducted in the United Kingdom has shown that e-bike incentives are over twice as effective as those designed to promote the purchase of electric cars. The U.K.’s Bicycle Association argues that e-bike incentives cost less than EV subsidies, offer better value and have the potential to reap quicker rewards. Also, unlike EV subsidies, e-bike incentives can help reduce traffic congestion in busy urban areas.
The U.K.’s Bicycle Association is pushing for subsidies that support the purchase of personal e-bikes. Additionally, the group is championing incentives that support the purchase of commercial cargo e-bikes. These bikes have the potential to replace cargo vans during urban deliveries.
Studies done here in the U.S. show that e-bikes have the potential to reduce carbon emissions, urban noise traffic congestion and air pollution. Research has also shown that they encourage users to cycle farther and more often than they would on a conventional pedal bicycle. This means that e-bikes have the potential to multiply the health benefits offered by bicycles that aren’t assisted by electric motors.
WHY THIS MATTERS
In this country, we’ve offered tax breaks of up to $7,500 to encourage car shoppers to purchase EVs. The data suggests that e-bikes offer tremendous environmental and health benefits. The Parisian e-bike subsidies make sense, and it’s easy to see how such legislation could trigger a big change in buying habits if we followed in the footsteps of our French neighbors and implemented similar laws here in the U.S.