Visionary City Planner is coming to Sacramento Feb. 21

Who: Brent Toderian, founder of Toderian UrbanWORKS
What: Keynote Speaker, State of Downtown breakfast
Where: SAFE Credit Union Convention Center, 1401 K Street
When: Tuesday, February 21, 8 AM

Brent Toderian, an internationally respected practitioner and thought leader on advancing urban environments, will serve as Keynote Speaker at the annual State of Downtown breakfast hosted by Downtown Sacramento Partnership on Tuesday, February 21.

Toderian has more than 30 years of experience in advanced urbanism, city planning, urban design, transportation, and change management. He served for six years as chief planner for the city of Vancouver, Canada. He also served as Manager of Center City Planning + Design and Chief Subdivision + Neighborhood Planner in Calgary.

He founded TODERIAN UrbanWORKS (TUW) in 2012 where he continues to consult with cities across the globe to build thriving, liveable communities.

Toderian does not advise cities to maintain a staid status quo (hello, Sacramento!), which makes SABA excited to see what visionary ideas he’ll showcase to our elected officials and city planners.

We would love to have a solid representation of bike and ped advocates in the audience. Seeing Toderian’s ideas presented will provide a strong foothold for attendees to refer to when pushing local officials for better and safer active transportation options and infrastructure.

While our city center could never be called visionary, and if anything, it has gotten even less appealing since the pandemic and our new reality of remote workers. There are empty city and state buildings, bringing less foot traffic, revenue, and livelihood to the area. Empty, non- generating buildings are obviously not a recipe for success. But this means that there’s abundant opportunity for improvement.

There are so many changes that could be done to energize downtown, make downtown safer for everyone, help reach the state’s climate goals, and increase the tax base. We’re excited to see what comprehensive ideas Toderian brings to Sacramento’s city leaders.
Toderian is a strong advocate for placing the importance of people over cars. Let’s face it: roads inspire nobody. But city parks, patio dining areas, parklets (converted parking spaces), outdoor music venues, and community events DO inspire. If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, people want and need to feel connected. Isolation isn’t healthy. This includes sitting in a car alone for hours a day and turning over the majority of public space to mostly single-occupancy vehicles.

If California were a sovereign nation, our state would have the fifth largest economy in the world. We should have an inspiring, thriving downtown capital city that reflects that. Right now, our downtown is, frankly, boring and built around fast car travel, making it unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians.

Tweet, January 29, 2023

For an example closer to home, the Cultural Trail in Indianapolis is 8 miles long, cutting through a variety of urban neighborhoods. Over half of business owners along the trail indicated they have seen an increase in customers since the Cultural Trail opened, and 48 percent indicated they have seen an increase in revenue. The trail boasts an economic impact of $864M. It’s not rocket science to understand that creating spaces where people want to spend time is good for business.

Sacramento needs a long-term visionary plan to revive downtown and support the local economy. We need more people in our city center, which simply means making downtown more attractive and interesting for employers, families, workers, and tourists.

From a bicycling perspective, there are some positive changes slated for the future, including the Central City Mobility Project that proposes permanent reconfiguration of high-speed, one-way roads into slower, safer, two-way avenues. The plan will also add miles of protected bike lanes in Sacramento and it includes a new rail station which will efficiently bring more people into town.

While this is good, Sacramento really needs a downtown plan that looks out 5, 10, and 50 years ahead, steering the city towards economic success and sustainability. Toderian’s ideas could help inspire that.

The defeat of Measure A in November—which would have raised taxes, increased sprawl, and widened highways that would have brought MORE congestion—tells us that Sacramento residents have had enough of archaic thinking and inaction by our city.

If we use some simple and relatively inexpensive techniques, including transforming space for cars into space for people and safe, separated bike lanes, Sacramento would quickly see results. Americans have been hoodwinked to believe that reallocating even a single parking spot away means death to local businesses. Studies have shown that this is simply not true.

Retweet from Carlton Reid, Forbes Magazine.

Our city has a target bicycling mode share goal of 12% and we are currently at a dismal 2%. Without bold moves, we will not see bold progress. Or any progress. We’re already behind the curve and need to act now.

Here in Sacramento, 57% of our carbon emissions are from vehicles. With almost half of urban car trips estimated to be 3 miles or less in length, imagine the local air quality improvement if just 10% of those trips were converted from single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) to bikes or e-bikes. Even one trip by bike a day would do a lot towards reaching our climate goals.

Tweet, January 23, 2022

In addition to safe cycling routes to downtown, we need better bus and light rail service. Both should be subsidized to make access to downtown more equitable and affordable for everyone. Prioritizing public transit makes driving a car less appealing and a less efficient means of getting around.

We recently saw a decision by our Mayor and City Council to decrease the cost of downtown parking prices. Subsidizing parking costs is ridiculously antiquated. No wonder we’re not seeing progress. How can we when our elected officials’ decisions take us backwards?

The fact that the website details for Toderian’s presentation includes information on SIX different car parking structures for attendees but nothing on how to arrive via transit or where to securely park a bike is a succinct reminder of how far we have to go.

Tweet, January 25, 2023

Toderian’s consulting firm advocates for sustainable cities and looks at every facet that entails, from more bike lanes, to housing within reach, to efficient transit, to lowering emissions.

Tickets in the gallery seating section start at $35 but do not include breakfast. So be sure to fuel up before you ride over.

We hope to see you there!

Sacramento Needs to Prioritize People Over Cars

While there are many things we’ve been happy to leave behind as pandemic lockdowns fade in our memories, safe, near-empty streets, and clear skies are not among them.

Cities around the world took bold steps to close roads to cars and prioritize people over vehicles, leaving communities transformed. In Europe, some have gone so far as to be labeled car-free cities” and retained former space allocated to cars in city centers to serve more people. After all, we’re all people, so shouldn’t we be the priority?

R Street in Midtown Sacramento, closed to cars during the pandemic.

Clogged streets and short-sighted “car first” policies need to be a thing of the past. Many U.S. transportation departments continue to make decisions based on outdated policies that prioritize moving cars from Point A to Point B as fast as possible. It’s an antiquated model that leads to an ever-increasing number of deaths on our roads and makes our cities unwelcoming.

But there’s a better way.

If the shift to work-from-home during the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we are tired of spending hours a day trapped in a car for travel to an office. Americans have finally awoken to the fact that there’s an alternative to the daily grind.

Instead, people want a better quality of life. They want their time back to spend with friends and family, take their kids on safe streets to play in the park, and pick up groceries locally instead of having the ordeal of working around peak traffic and parking hassles.

15-Minute Cities

Many in the forward-looking active transportation world are advocating for what’s known as 15-minute cities . As the name implies, the concept refers to residents of a city meeting their daily needs within 15 minutes of home via walking or riding a bike.

The 15-minute city provides multiple benefits to communities:

  • Fewer miles driven leads to safer roads for everyone, including drivers
  • Smarter, safer street designs to prioritize safety over speed
  • Reducing carbon emissions to help reach our state’s climate goals
  • More investment in local neighborhoods, especially small businesses
  • Better quality of life to attract employers
  • Stronger communities as people interact with neighbors more
  • Greater equity as services increase in often-ignored neighborhoods and traditional “food desert” areas
  • Providing safe, affordable transportation options for all residents
  • A healthier population as people can easily adapt an active transportation lifestyle

What needs to happen to get Sacramento and its neighborhoods to be more user-friendly for everyone, whether you’re eight or 80 years old? A bold vision, certainly. The concept of a 15-minute city doesn’t magically appear overnight. But we do need immediate action. There are a number of steps Sacramento can make now to move in the right direction.

A connected network

Sacramento has many great neighborhoods, but there is no safe network of bike routes to get around the many highways, railroad tracks, and arterials that intersect our city.

Our residents deserve a seamless, connected network that allows any resident to get where they need to go safely and efficiently by bicycle or walking. The city has a target bicycling mode share goal of 12% and we are currently at a dismal 2%. Without bold moves, we will not see bold progress. Or any progress.

A connected network eliminates the all-too-common “bike lane to nowhere” and instead prioritizes getting people walking and biking safely and efficiently to destinations across the city. It incorporates safe ‘first and last mile’ connections that complement mass transit and make buses, trains, and light rail a convenient and desirable alternative to single-occupancy vehicles.

Separated bike lanes should be added throughout the city, allowing efficient, safe travel for people on bikes. Sidewalks meeting ADA codes should be in all neighborhoods.

Thoughtful street design

Sacramento was recently ranked 2nd worst in the nation for its unsafe drivers. Slowing traffic down by better street design saves lives, including those of drivers. Busy intersections should have pedestrian-first designs to slow traffic  and save lives, and traffic signals should be metered to prioritize pedestrians with a head start at crosswalks to eliminate the worry of getting mowed down while simply crossing the street.

Forward-thinking cities have eliminated “right turn on red” to slow traffic down and reduce traffic fatalities and injuries, making city centers safer and more welcoming.

Sacramento has major arterials that cut through the city, hurtling fast-moving vehicles through downtown. SABA supports the Central City Mobility Project that proposes permanent reconfiguration of high-speed, one-way roads into slower, safer, two way avenues. The plan will also add miles of protected bike lanes in Sacramento. We need to see more of this!

Allocate more public spaces for people

After restaurants closed for the initial pandemic shutdown, there was panic about lost jobs and whether any of our favorite dining spots would survive. But restaurants pivoted and found new ways to not only survive, but thrive.

Parklets—redesigned street areas or parking spaces to accommodate more people—sprung up everywhere. Even in cities with cooler climates, dining outside with space heaters became the norm. And contrary to the common argument that transitioning a parking spot will harm business, these reconfigured spaces had the opposite effect. People came out to enjoy these new public spaces and businesses thrived. Sac’s R Street was bustling with pedestrians, people on bikes, and families dining outside enjoying the car-free atmosphere. R Street was a perfect, real-life demonstration of people responding to safe, communal spaces for all to enjoy.

A lone rider on R Street.

Sacramento had its share of parklets crop up during the pandemic, but even after seeing the enthusiasm for R Street, the city returned the street to cars, and now R Street is just another road. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, voters just approved keeping JFK Promenade permanently free of cars. This reconfiguration was test-piloted during the pandemic and it turns out that people like safe places to ride and walk. To put it simply, Sacramento needs to think bigger and take bold action.

Instead, our Mayor and council recently incentivized parking in the downtown grid by lowering parking rates. This is the perfect example of antiquated thinking and city planning that is taking Sacramento in the wrong direction. The economic and social benefits of parklets and communal reconfigurations have been recognized, but as long as our local leaders maintain a “car is king” mentality, Sacramento won’t see progress.

Events for community to come together

SABA’s Bikes on the Boulevard event during May is Bike Month brought people together to safely ride across town on closed streets, enjoying music, food, yoga, and community. We need our city to embrace and encourage more events like this.

Bikes on the Boulevard, May is Bike Month, 2022.

Sacramento should look to the Ciclovia in Colombia for inspiration. While many tend to dismiss any idea from outside of the U.S. (don’t even dare to mention Copenhagen) with a “we can’t do that here” attitude, that lack of vision is a big part of the problem. Ciclovia launched in Bogota nearly 50 years ago, and every Sunday, the city has millions of participants out riding, walking, dancing, and eating street food on 75 miles of closed roads. Millions every week! Now that’s an equitable and celebratory use of public space.

Closer to home, Los Angeles—inspired by Bogota—launched its own CicLAvia in 2010. To date, CicLAvia has welcomed 1.8 million people to 40 events on nearly 250 miles of closed roads. More than 50% of participants said they’d be inactive if not for CicLAvia and businesses along the route see a 57% increase in business on event days. Sunday Streets in San Francisco is another great example.

CicLAvia in Hollywood. Photo Courtesy of

This is such a no-brainer for Sacramento to embrace, bring people together and get them moving! The city should be working to encourage these events and support them in whatever way possible in neighborhoods across the metropolitan area. Even just taking the lead on assisting with street permitting and traffic plans would ease the burden on small nonprofits like SABA and facilitate more events for all to enjoy.

More equitable use of our public space currently allocated to cars puts the residents of Sacramento first. All residents. Not just those who wish to drive and are privileged enough be able to own, insure, fuel, and store an automobile. After all, roads are funded as much by general taxes paid by everyone as they are through the gas tax. Our road space should work for everyone who pays for them.

Let’s put community first

The defeat of Measure A on the November ballot was encouraging. Our thanks to everyone who voted against the measure! It shows that residents of Sacramento County don’t want to raise their taxes for more of the same: more highways, more congestion, more fatalities, and more wealthy investors and developers. People are ready for a smarter way of living.

We’ve outlined a way to get us there. Is it simple and will it happen overnight? No. It is possible to achieve? Absolutely.

So, what are we waiting for? With the climate crisis and rising road fatalities in our cities, now is the time to act and create a forward-looking vision of a dynamic city everyone can enjoy.

We all win when cars don’t completely dominate urban design. So does our planet.

Sacramento Is Spinning Its Wheels in the Wrong Direction

With wildfires, tornadoes, drought, floods, hurricanes, and typhoons decimating communities across the globe, there is no denying we are in a climate crisis.

So what are our elected officials doing about it? In many ways, California stepped up to be a leader in setting climate action goals, at least as far as efforts in the U.S. go.

California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 was the initial legislation to set a limit statewide on greenhouse gas emissions. This showed a state-level commitment to transition to a more sustainable energy economy. In 2016, the state passed a bill with even more stringent requirements, with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030.

Just last month, Governor Newsom signed five new climate and energy bills into law.

Sacramento, however, is not evolving and continues to make decisions that only add to our climate crisis.

Measure A Will Set Us Back

Exhibit A is Measure A, the disastrous proposed tax increase that will appear on our November ballot. While being promoted as helping to fund transportation projects, let’s be clear. The priority will be building more roads and adding more lanes to existing roads and highways. As anyone who has studied transportation planning knows, you can’t build your way out of congestion. Additional space for cars only brings more cars, which lands you back where you started: clogged roads and increased emissions.

With the recent housing boom, proposed developments are being planned farther and farther outside of Sacramento, adding to our inbound commuting population. Many of these communities will not have mass transit access, leaving only one means of transportation to get around: the single-occupancy vehicle (SOV). In the U.S. vehicle emissions account for roughly a third of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Adding to the region’s congestion by serving these far-flung, low density single family developments with additional highways will prevent the state from reaching its climate goals, clear and simple. It’s bad for Sacramento and it’s bad for our planet.

But the issues surrounding Measure A and other such proposals go beyond climate. Our local leaders seem incapable of comprehending the lack of equity with regards to adding more vehicles and roads. Studies have shown that non-whites are exposed to 21% more air pollutants than California’s white population. It’s yet another blind eye turned to transportation inequality in our area and across U.S. cities.

And cars are expensive, often the second-highest monthly expenditure for folks, second only to rent or mortgage payments. Not everyone can afford a car, registration, and insurance, not to mention the constant consumption of gas needed to feed the beast. Instead of subsidizing driving, we should be dedicating resources to developing alternative, affordable, and convenient mass transit strategies to move more people in the most efficient and equitable manner possible.

Lastly, the proposed tax on the ballot is regressive, which means that everyone pays the same tax rate on purchases no matter their income level. It’s yet another hit to those who can afford it least.

Let’s Move Forward

Americans have turned the corner on accepting electric vehicles, which helps with emissions but not congestion. There’s a much simpler and obvious solution right in front of us and it’s not a newfangled invention, nor is it inaccessible to most. The solution is the humble bicycle.

What if we defeated (vote no on A!) the passage of Measure A? What if instead we held our elected officials accountable to provide safe and accessible transportation for everyone?

What would this look like? The possibilities are limitless, but as a community we should start with demanding a comprehensive, connected bicycling network that serves everyone in all areas of Sacramento—not just those who can afford cars. This would include bike lanes that are physically separated from cars, traffic signals that give priority to people biking or walking, intersections engineered to reduce crashes, and neighborhoods with ‘greenways’ or streets with speed limits of only 20 mph.

More than half of Americans from numerous cities have stated that they’re “interested but concerned” about riding a bike for transportation. Their concerns are centered around safety issues. If Sacramento County prioritized building safe, networked bike routes and paths, we could tap into this interest and increase our currently abysmal mode share, which hovers at 2%. The city’s bike mode share goal is 12%.

Instead of building more roads, what if we brought rapid bus transit to Sacramento. Instead of another highway to Folsom, why not invest in mass transit to connect our communities?

These are the types of initiatives that SABA could get behind and that would increase quality of life for so many residents of Sacramento County. And they would help reach the state’s reduced emissions goal.

With dedicated investments and a strategic plan, SABA believes we can get there, but not if Measure A passes in November.

The Time Is Now

COVID brought a boom to bicycling not seen in the U.S. in 50 years. People were comfortable riding bikes, often for the first time in decades, on emptier roads. We saw how clear skies were in many California cities during lockdown. Reducing the number of cars on our roads—in part by getting more folks on bikes—makes for a healthier lifestyle in many ways.

Cities closed roads off to cars (read that again) to build communal spaces for all to safely and happily enjoy during the pandemic. San Francisco closed the popular Golden Gate Park Road to cars and city officials faced a backlash when they tried to revert it back to automobile traffic. Bay Area cyclists recently celebrated a victory that keeps cars off the road permanently. Sadly, Sacramento only committed limited resources to such ‘green streets’ efforts; hence, we’ve not seen any lasting, long-term improvements.

There is nothing to suggest the uptick in cycling will be slowing down anytime soon. E-bikes have outsold electric vehicles in the U.S. the last two years. The number of Americans embracing bicycling is growing! This is a movement our city council and mayor should be celebrating and embracing.

Why do our elected officials support ‘if we build it, they will come’ for cars but not for bicycles? The last thing Sacramento needs is more cars.

What’s Next

So, what can you do?

  1. Vote NO on Measure A
  2. Get engaged: reach out to city council and state officials and tell them you want forward-looking transit solutions not more cars
  3. Ride your bike and help a neighbor or colleague get riding by helping with route suggestions
  4. Support SABA and increase our voice. We’re stronger together.

These are simple steps everyone in Sacramento can do to bring real change to our city.

Written by Amy Morfas, former deputy director of Bicycle Colorado and freelance writer at Inspired Content, LLC.

UPdate: Early returns in the November election show that Measure could be defeated. Read about it in the Sac Bee.

E-bikes are Recharging Cycling

E-bikes, or electric bicycles, have recently exploded in popularity. The most obvious reason for that, as anyone who’s ridden one knows, is simply that e-bikes are fun to ride. They are true smile generators. It’s so great to watch someone experience an e-bike for the first time. To continue to grow sales in this segment, the e-bike industry simply needs to get more butts on e-bikes and watch the magic happen.

COVID had a negative financial impact on many industries, but bicycling exploded during the pandemic. Riding bikes was a great way for folks to get outside safely as we were forced to live in a more isolated society. People were dusting off bikes that had sat in the back of their garages for decades, and shops were selling through their inventory with no way to replenish due to supply chain shortages. It’s been a bicycling renaissance!

The pandemic biking boom introduced a lot of people to e-bikes for the first time. Many urban dwellers were too nervous to ride buses or trains, which helped drive interest in riding a bike for transportation.

Looking to reach a destination efficiently and not get sweaty, e-bikes became an obvious solution. E-bike sales really took off and are still booming, becoming the fastest-growing segment in the bike market.

On a daily basis, parents are riding e-bikes with their kids on the back for daycare or school drop-off, then continuing on to the office or to run errands. Seniors are enjoying the benefits of exercise with a little boost from the bike’s motor. Urban riders can often get where they’re going as efficiently as in a car but without the hassle of parking.

And there’s no slowing down in sight for this trend. It is estimated that Americans will purchase more than one million e-bikes in the coming year. And even as we’re learning to live with the pandemic, rising fuel costs continue to bring new riders to the e-bike market.

This is a good thing on many levels.

E-bikes are good for the environment

Increased ridership of e-bikes in the U.S. are a boon to fighting climate change. With wildfires, drought, and floods taking place beyond their traditional “seasons” across the country and around the world, there’s no doubt that we are in a climate crisis. An e-bike can go up to 70 times as far as a 30 mpg gas-powered car per pound of climate emissions. They’re also 20 times more efficient than an electric car.

According to Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Americans take over 1 billion car trips a day. That’s a staggering number. It is estimated that 45% of those trips are for shopping and errands, with another 27% for social or recreational trips, such as meeting up with friends.

E-bikes can easily replace many local car trips, which are the largest source of transportation-based carbon emissions according to PeopleForBikes. Here in Sacramento, 57% of our carbon emissions are from vehicles. With almost half of urban car trips estimated to be 3 miles or less in length, imagine the local air quality improvement if just 10% of those trips were converted from single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) to e-bike.       

E-bikes are good for your health

Science has shown that exercising and just being in the great outdoors is beneficial to both one’s physical and mental health.

Given all the different types of e-bikes on the market (more on that below), it can be difficult to get an exact measure on the physical benefits of riding an e-bike. When e-bikes first hit the market, cycling “purists” were quick to label riding an e-bike as “cheating.”

But numerous studies have shown that pedaling an e-bike does indeed require physical exertion and is beneficial to your health. One reason for that is because people are riding e-bikes farther and more frequently than they would a standard bike, equalizing the expended effort overall.

E-bikes are good for the economy

As stated above, e-bike sales are on fire. In addition to industry sales, e-bikes are also becoming more popular as a draw for tourism dollars. While many Americans may not consider touring a city by bike, touring a city by e-bike is much more appealing. Rental shops and local guided tour leaders say that demand for e-bikes continues to build.

We’ve also seen bikeshare programs across the country adopting e-bikes for both locals and tourists to enjoy, including here in Sacramento.

Sustainable tourism outfits are also seeing an increase in e-bike related travel and tours. And “traditional” bike touring companies in the U.S. and Europe are now offering e-bikes to keep aging riders engaged (and spending).

E-bikes are good for all cyclists

First-time purchasers of e-bikes are often adults who have not ridden a bike since getting that coveted drivers’ license at 16 years old. This increased ridership is great news for many reasons.

It can obviously help grow the voice of the bike advocacy movement, which strengthens the push for better and safer bicycling for everyone.

It helps keep our population healthier, less stressed out, and happier.

And perhaps most importantly, it gets drivers on two wheels. E-bike riders are often people who have not ridden a bike in decades, but they’ve almost certainly driven a car in that time. The exposure educates drivers on a cyclist’s perspective. The more people who experience it, the more safe and courteous behavior it should bring to our roads. That’s a win for everyone who rides.

Ready to buy?

E-bikes have come a long way, quickly. The industry has seen a rise in quality and are now able to mass produce (supply chain issues aside) the best product choice for consumers. As with most things, there’s a wide range of e-bike options with a correspondingly wide price range.

The first factor to consider when choosing an e-bike is which “class” of bike makes the most sense for your needs and how/where you plan to ride.

Class I e-bikes have a motor that only engages when the cyclist is pedaling. This is what’s known as a “pedal assist” bike. Class I bikes have a maximum speed of 20 mph with the motor engaged. This means they can go faster on a downhill, but the motor will not engage over speeds of 20 mph.

Class II e-bikes also have a throttle which makes the bike accelerate without pedaling. The motors on these bikes also top out at a maximum speed of 20 mph when using pedal assist or the throttle.

Class III e-bikes have a maximum speed of 28 mph with pedal assist. They traditionally do not have a throttle. Class III bikes are regulated more heavily by some states, including California, where you must wear a helmet and be 17 years of age or older.

When selecting which e-bike is right for you, consider where you plan to ride. Not all classes of e-bikes are allowed on trails or even local multi-use paths. Class I e-bikes are the least regulated.

Also, how far do you plan to ride? Using a throttle will drain the battery faster and can limit your range. But some riders find the quick acceleration from a throttle helps to keep them safer and moving with traffic in urban settings.

Where will you store your bike? Since e-bikes have a motor and battery, they are heavier than a standard bike. Getting them up and down stairs can be a challenge.

Will you be biking for utilitarian purposes or recreationally? E-bikes now range from full-on cargo bikes to more subtle road bike designs with internal batteries. You can find bikes with children’s seats, storage racks and panniers/bags for shopping trips, and cargo capacity for urban delivery routes.

At this point, there’s really something for everyone on the market.

Sherry M. on her new Yuba Cargo e-bike, the grand prize from May is Bike Month 2022. Photo: Deb Banks

E-bike cost analysis

E-bikes are more mechanically complex than a regular bicycle, and that ups the price tag. However, after the initial investment in the bike, e-bikes are cheap to run. According to a recent study by the climate action center, an e-bike typically costs less than a penny a mile to charge.

The biggest cost savings is comparing the penny-a-mile charge to filling up the gas tank in your car. Gasoline savings are significant when folks move traditional car errands to an e-bike. There is a trend—one we hope continues—of people who are finding that they can actually replace their car with an e-bike. This eliminates registration fees, insurance costs, and possibly car payments—which can run up to $10,000 annually—to easily justify the cost of an e-bike.

But the high price tag can make an e-bike out of reach for many, especially on lower-income individuals who rely on a bicycle as their sole means of transportation. The Inflation Revenue Act recently signed into law has many proposed climate benefits, but it failed to include e-bike incentives in the final version of the bill.

California has put forth an aggressive climate policy plan in the past year. Most recently, a bill was passed for a $1,000 refundable tax credit to Californians who don’t own vehicles and will apply to single earners up to $40,000 annually or joint filers making up to $60,000.

This tax credit would go a long way towards the initial purchase price of an e-bike, which is a barrier to entry for so many. The policy is a step towards increased transportation equity in our state, while also encouraging people to live car-free, reducing carbon emissions.

Are e-bikes the magic pill?

In many ways, they could be, but time will tell. E-bikes are real “excuse busters” for many who have cited a myriad of reasons as to why they view bike commuting as impractical. And given the demand in the market, Americans are obviously seeing the benefits of e-bikes.

Given that e-bikes can help our climate crisis, reduce congestion, provide physical and mental health benefits to riders, and grow the voice of bike advocacy, SABA is celebrating all that the e-bike brings to our movement.

Written by Amy Morfas, former deputy director of Bicycle Colorado and freelance writer at Inspired Content, LLC.

Update: The Climate Action Center is an amazing resource for all things e-bikes, including legislation nationwide, information about choosing, locking and purchasing an e-bike, and just about anything you want to know about e-bikes.