E-bikes are the solution to the last-mile delivery problem - GreenBiz

When it comes to last-mile logistics electrification strategies in the next decade, two or three wheels could be as important as four.

Although electric bicycles didn’t receive much attention during the COP26 negotiations last month — to the chagrin of some sustainability mobility advocates — 2021 was the year they found a more welcoming home in living rooms and garages around the world. An analysis by Business Research published in mid-November estimated global e-bike sales at $36.5 billion for the year, a compound annual growth rate of more than 12 percent over 2020. Within three years, revenue could reach $53.3 billion, the market research firm predicts.

This has been happening organically, as climate-conscious and budget-conscious individuals hunt for alternatives to a car-dependent lifestyle. One of the under-celebrated climate-related incentives included in the U.S. Build Back Better (BBB) legislation is a 30 percent tax credit of up to $900 on purchases of e-bikes for individuals with annual income of up to $75,000. The proposal covers models with a price tag of $4,000 or less.

According to calculations touted by a big legislative proponent of this idea, California Congressman Jimmy Panetta, if e-bikes handled many short-distance trips — particularly for commuting — currently traveled by cars, it would cut emissions by 12 percent.

Incidentally, another incentive included in BBB is the return of a benefit that lets employers offer bike-commuting workers — those who do it regularly rather than occasionally — up to $81 per month. A previous version of this subsidy that provided up to $20 per month was killed under the Trump administration.

While e-bike proponents generally talk up the benefits for individuals and commuters, the format also holds substantial promise when it comes to last-mile delivery, especially in urban environments where tricycles or quadricycles (why not?) powered by pedal or battery could be a practical alternative to vans.

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