As gas prices soar, the state is offering a generous incentive for ebike purchases

Lawmakers say the point is to make the bikes more affordable for some, and to get more cars off the road.
Published: Jul. 15, 2022 at 8:06 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 16, 2022 at 12:27 AM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With gas prices soaring and inflation squeezing resident’s wallets, the demand for bicycles — including electric bikes — has also been going up.

And now the state is offering a sweet incentive for electric bike purchases.

But the rebate isn’t open to everyone.

According to a new law, the state Department of Transportation will offer $500 or 20% of the cost of an e-bike. However, the buyer must be enrolled in school, be without a registered motor vehicle, or qualify for low-income assistance. There’s some $700,000 appropriated for the program.

The law also sets a speed limit for e-bikes in order to qualify and gives qualified buyers a year to apply for the rebate.

The cost of electric bikes are higher than conventional bicycles. At Ebikes Hawaii, the starting price is just under $1,000.

Even so, sales have been rising.

“It’s definitely something we’ve been looking forward too, as we’ve seen gas prices rise and the cost of having a car in the city has also been rising,” said Iniki Galway of Ebikes Hawaii. “Insurance rates have gone up and parking is never cheap in town.”

While legislation over the legality of e-bikes on Hawaii roads is still a gray area, lawmakers said the goal is to have fewer cars driving around.

“We want to provide an opportunity to get people the ability to get around a lot cheaper,” said state Sen. Chris Lee, chairman of the senate Transportation Committee and one of the bill’s sponsors.

“Maybe families that have one car per member of the family, they can go from three cars to two,” Lee added.

Micah Smith and his family use their e-bikes every day up and down the streets of Manoa Valley.

“So I use this electric bike to take my kids to school every morning, and I grab some groceries with it,” Smith said. “Sometimes it’s a lot faster to ride my electric bike than a regular car, and I get a little bit of exercise at the same time.”

Ebikes Hawaii said they believe more people will use the new bill to get themselves on the road.

Lee said he hopes many people take advantage of the opportunity.

“We do want to come back again next year and try to expand options and give people more support.”

Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.