Appetite for Atlanta Incentive May Scale Program Regionally

THE ATLANTA CITY Council in January authorized $1 million for an e-bike incentive program, which would be administered by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) in partnership with Propel ATL, an advocacy organization that works to improve biking conditions in the city. The average resident in metro Atlanta spends more than $12,000 annually on car-related expenses, according to the ARC.

“We’re already seeing appetite for this type of program,” said Bennett Foster, director of innovation and partnerships at ARC and the lead on the e-bike program.

More than 1,500 people signed up for the program within 48 hours of the website’s launch, Foster said. The city’s goal is to distribute as many as 1,000 vouchers. Residents can receive point-of-sale rebates of $500 for a standard e-bike and $1,000 for a cargo e-bike. Residents whose annual income is $54,000 or less can receive $1,500 for a standard e-bike and $2,000 for a cargo e-bike. Three-quarters of the rebates will be reserved for residents whose annual income is $54,000 or less.

While ARC is administering the program for the city, it’s also looking for opportunities to scale to the region, according to Rosalind Tucker, ARC’s managing director of mobility services. The ARC is the metropolitan planning organization for Atlanta’s Fulton County and a dozen surrounding counties.

“It really is like policy diffusion in action. We’re not recreating the wheel, we’re seeing these great ideas from the public sector and able to apply them to our own areas,” Foster said.

The project has brought awareness to the number of low-income residents interested in purchasing an e-bike because they don’t have access to a car, according to Tucker. “They just want another option when or if the bus is late or not coming,” she said. “That’s why we’re designing this program – to help people with their commutes and complete their trips.”

Tucker is also interested in exploring how popular the program is with millennials, who have been buying fewer cars than previous generations but now have started families.

“We may want to examine what this might mean for folks who never bought cars, who were using Uber as a first- and last-mile connection. This might be a game changer for that,” she said.