Residents of Saanich, B.C., who are thinking about buying an electric bike may be more likely to do so now thanks to a new rebate program designed to get more locals less dependent on their cars and more interested in cycling.
The District of Saanich's Community E-bike Incentive Pilot Program launched on Oct. 12 and offers three different rebates for residents who buy an e-bike of $350, $800 and $1,600, depending on their income levels.
To qualify, the bike must be bought after Oct. 12, cost at least $1,800 and be for personal, not commercial use.
E-bike prices start around $1,600, with many in the $3,000-$4,000 range, and a survey of residents by the Capital Regional District showed cost was the biggest barrier for people who would otherwise consider riding one.
The district says it is the first B.C. municipality to create such an incentive program and is doing so for the planet's sake.
"We are doing this because Saanich is committed to taking climate action," said district Coun. Colin Plant, speaking to CBC's On The Island Wednesday.
Plant said district staff will be working with the University of British Columbia to see how effective the incentive program is at getting more people out of their cars and onto cycling paths.
Cycling path improvements
Those who do jump on the e-bike bandwagon may be happy to hear the Capital Regional District Board approved a proposal Wednesday to improve the Galloping Goose Regional Trail between the Selkirk Trestle and Grange Road (adjacent to McKenzie Avenue) and the Lochside Regional Trail between the Switch Bridge and McKenzie Avenue/Borden Street.
In total, it is about 6.6 kilometres of trail through urban areas. The approximately $14 million project will include widening pathways to create separate lanes for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as improving lighting at key locations along the trails such as at junctions and underpasses.
Plant said the board will be reaching out to both the province and Ottawa for grant money to cover some of that cost.
"We are going to work with other levels of governments so it is not just being paid for by the regions' residents," he said.
An e-bike rider himself, Plant said one of the biggest issues on those trails right now is speed because the bikes can easily get up to 30 kilometres an hour and dividing the pathway will offer better safety protection for all.
To learn more about the Saanich e-bike incentive program and to apply for a rebate online, visit Saanich.ca/ebike.