By on September 16, 2019

California wants that ’84 Olds Eighty-Eight gone, stat. In its place, a citizen of limited means can apply for disposal funding and the (partial) means of replacing it with a cleaner car, or opt instead for a transit pass or car-sharing membership. Now, the state Senate has amended earlier legislation to include more “mobility.”

The Clean Cars 4 All Program, administered by the California Air Resources Board, will now fork it over to get you on some sort of bike.

Earlier this month, the upper house passed Senate Bill No. 400 to amend the state’s Health and Safety Code with updated language about green transportation options. That impacts what low-income residents can apply for under the clean car program once their gas-guzzling jalopy disappears from the laneway.

The amendment focuses on the term “mobility option” as listen in the Scrap and Replace program options. Whereas before, low-income residents living in participating districts who meet certain requirements could gain $4,500 towards the purchase of a vehicle that gets either 35 mpg combined or comes with a plug (be it a plug-in hybrid or EV), they could also opt for a non-ownership solution. Transit and ride-sharing, basically.

Now, the updated language means eligible residents who scrap their old vehicle can receive replacement funds or a voucher for “public transit, car sharing, bike sharing, or electric bicycles.”

If they’re in the Bay Area, those options include Ford’s GoBike service or perhaps the purchase of a Ford Super Cruiser, which is an actual electric bike marketed by Ford. Maybe they could look at General Motors’ “ARĪV” e-bike, which is also a thing. This is where we’re headed and will continue doing so, at least until automakers discover it’s not worth the effort.

Program participants will no doubt be dismayed to find there’s no Rambike offered by Fiat Chrysler, but give it time.

[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC]

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44 Comments on “Four Becomes Two: California Will Now Fund Your Transition From Car to Bike...”


  • avatar
    thornmark

    no matter how much they spend it can’t be any less successful than the “High Speed Rail” fiasco/boondoggle.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    This is expert-level trolling by Steph, but as probably the only commenter here who commutes almost every day by ebike, let me present a few facts to inform the inevitable flamewars that are coming.

    – Ebikes can cost anywhere from $1000 for a bargain-basement special to $10,000 for the finest European designer creations. The value sweet spot is $2000 to $4000.
    – Most ebikes provide assistance when you pedal and feel like you are Superman riding a normal bike. There are a few that have a throttle as well.
    – Ebikes in the US are generally limited to either 20 mph or 28 mph depending on class. You can go faster under your own power or gravity (downhill).
    – Ebikes typically have motors putting out between 250 and 750 W (roughly 1/3 hp to 1 hp). Some have the motor in the middle of the bike before the chain, others have it in the rear hub.
    – Using the MPGe scale the EPA applies to cars, an ebike gets in the ballpark of 1500 MPGe.
    – Typical ebike range is around 40 miles on a charge, although there is plenty of variation in both directions.

    Ebikes can be fantastic for commutes under about 10 miles in length. They take most of the sweat out of bike riding, so you can commute in normal clothes even if you have to climb a hill or two.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      What’s the appeal over something like a Grom?

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        1) Use bike paths and trails
        2) No stink
        3) Feels like riding a bike and gives you some exercise, tho not as much as a conventional bike

        • 0 avatar
          Kenn

          “… gives you some exercise, tho not as much as a conventional bike”

          An ebike allows you to get as much exercise as you want. With most ebikes, boost is added in proportion to how hard you pedal, and which level of boost you’ve chosen. You simply travel faster for a given level of exertion.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            How much effort is required if and when you run out of juice? Is there a conventional gear set involved anywhere? Can the motor be set to freewheel, so the only extra you’re pulling is the additional weight of the motor?

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Each type of motor is different, but in most cases the extra effort when unpowered is purely because the bicycle is heavier. The motors either freewheel or spin very freely when not powered.

            Again there are many different types of powertrains. My personal bike has a mid-drive motor that spins the back wheel through a conventional Shimano mountain-bike 10-speed cassette. It’s geared taller than a mountain bike but otherwise works just like one when the motor is off.

      • 0 avatar
        b534202

        No license requirement?

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Not in states with modern ebike rules (which includes most of the states with cities where you’d commute by bike).

          If your motor exceeds 750 W, your throttle ebike will provide assist at more than 20 mph, or your pedal-only ebike will do so at more than 28 mph, then it’s going to be classified as a moped or motorcycle and you’ll need a license.

          My ebike of choice is a 350 W, 28 mph pedal-only model, and at rush hour I can often beat cars across the city with it.

    • 0 avatar
      Jon

      My commute is 30 miles on all flat terrain. Is there an Ebike that can consistently undergo a 30 mile commute with more than a few miles to spare? I wouldn’t want to finish my ride with only a few miles to spare. What is the charge time for a bike with such a range? Price?

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        You’ll get better mileage on flat terrain. And the nice thing about ebikes is that if you run out of range with just a short way to go, you can ride the bike like a normal bike for that last little distance. If my commute were 30 flat miles I wouldn’t worry about using my own ebike, as long as I had charging available at both ends. Charging time is ~3 hours from empty on my bike.

        There are a few bikes out there with dual batteries, which can go close to 100 miles, but they are heavier so less fun to ride.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I’ts been a long time since I lived in Los Angeles, but seems like an ebike would be great for commuting there, especially if they invest in some dedicated bike paths. Not cheap, but way cheaper than building more roads or light rail.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Yeah. With some bike infrastructure, LA would be the perfect biking city. The weather is perfect and most of the city is flat. But the roads as they are right now are extremely scary on a bike.

    • 0 avatar
      retrocrank

      Despite being an automotive enthusiast I have been commuting by bicycle for the past 15 years, about 4 miles each way in hilly terrain in all weather the Northeast slings. So I’m with dal20402, I get it. It’s not hard for me to see that eBikes make the transition just a little easier for those not inclined to think about personal rather than mined energy.

      A few years ago I ran an online questionaire about bicycle commuting. Among the respondants who don’t do it, the biggest claimed reason is a lack of safe place to ride. I get that too, having been mowed down by an inattentive brutal aggressive driving a Volvo and not uncommonly having BMW and Audi drivers (they are the worst of the bunch) race me to stop signs (so many sufferers of small dick syndrome…..).

      There are other factors at play of course, there is always the gonadal enhancement provided by driving The Right Car, as noted – most people live by animal-level emotion, not rationality. There is the actual work one has to do gain transport, vs burning something somewhere – enjoyment of exertion and disgust with obesity have been dialed out of the gene pool I’m afraid. And frankly cheap land in the ‘burbs means too many people live >>3-5 miles from work, a distance that probably is the upper limit of what is reasonable for non-bicycle enthusiasts. All that could be changed if public policy made driving difficult and rewarded cycling, E or otherwise.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      dal20402,

      Good information, thanks!

      (Side note: I once had a dream where I was riding a horse with pedals – it was awesome – lol.)

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Speaking of number two, you can drop it anywhere you’d like in the Bay area, but urinating in public will get you put on a sex offender registry.

  • avatar
    Mackey

    I have nothing against various mobility options where they make sense (daily driving a Ford Super Duty in city commutes with no payload or passengers makes about as much sense to me as driving a Smart Car in rural North Dakota), but I do have to wonder what the real word applications will be of those who partake in such a program.

    It is widely accepted that Cash for Clunkers simply pulled forward many purchase that were already going to happen, and didn’t prevent those users from replacing the spouses vehicle under the program, then going right back out and getting a good deal on another truck or SUV.

    I habe to wonder if thos program will largely only be used by those who already sre aware of the program, and we’re slready inclined to make such a purchase because it made sense.

    In those cases, you may own an older car to save the expense and worry of a newer car thst just sits, but that’s the problem. Many of these cars arent being run daily- they sit in a city parking lot until they are needed, collecting bird poo but not much worry. So the calculated benefits may be inflated.

    For those who are ‘lower income’ driving their ‘jalopy’, how many will be willing to give up the security of a car for an ebike that they may have to leave parked outside, in their ‘low income’ neighborhood?

    Not saying these things are bad- heck, I’d like one… Just wondering if the ROI is there compared to what is sold to the public, and who the actual CUSTOMERS will be.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      According to Google: “Surface parking spaces cost about 5,000 to $10,000 to construct (including the value of the land they occupy). Structured parking costs between 25,000 and $50,000 per space”

      Considering how much we subsidize parking, handing folks ebikes is probably a win, especially when you figure how much land costs in most of California.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        My office building has a bike cage. It takes up approximately the same amount of space as four parking spaces + access, and holds 150 bikes (on a typical day, there are about 30-40 bikes in it).

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “ebike that they may have to leave parked outside”

        I would think you could bring it into your house or apartment with you. I’d be more concerned about it parked out and about.

        “subsidize parking”

        ?

        • 0 avatar

          Yes, one of the favored tropes of the anti car folks is the idea that every parking space is a public subsidy of a private good-as if you somehow had rights to it. These are the same folks who take full lanes out of avenues in NYC, put bike shares in place of public parking spaces, and THEN say we need congestion pricing because there is “so much traffic”. Bicycles are good for a few short range trips in limited places, I don’t get the evangelical bike nuts…

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Typical half baked argument. If anything more parking is always needed since it can hold any type of vehicle on two or four wheels. Bike lanes are simply that, only they or perhaps mopeds or motorcycles can fit in them, and somehow I feel the motorcycles/mopeds would somehow be not permitted.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          When we require parking in residential or commercial buildings (which we do in most places) we are requiring the residents or businesses to pay for parking whether they use it or not. At $50k to $100k in construction cost for (usually underground garage) space, that’s not a small amount to pay.

          Here in Seattle we had a study that said that everyone’s rent was $200/month higher to pay for just the unused parking in apartment or condo buildings. (Until recently, there was a requirement of between 1-2 spaces per unit, and about half of those typically went unused.)

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Can you combine the 4500 with the 4500 state ev credit?
    Add the 1900 federal and that gets a base Tesla into the 20s, right?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Just when you think they’ve jumped the shark…

    In fairness I believe they have been buying out targeted models for some time, this is probably the first time its been offered with of all things, a bicycle. I also find the public transit amusing, since its likely these models are owned by the poor/working poor who likely qualify for free transit in the first place. Ironically in the scenario of I’m poor rolling the ’84 Olds, the bike is actually the logical choice vs transit and “sharing”, all of which are basically rentier activity.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      In what world do you live where anyone except possibly disabled people qualifies for “free transit?”

      Discounted, often (usually 1/2 off). Free, almost never.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        This is more or less accurate but I can’t confirm every edge case cited:

        getawaytips.azcentral.com/bus-passes-for-low-income-families-in-allegheny-county-pennsylvania-12485417.html

        Pitt students and employees also get comp’d as do Emergency Services workers in uniform and I also believe members of the Armed Forces in uniform (less sure on the latter, know for fact on the former).

        https://www.pc.pitt.edu/buses-shuttles/public-transit

        I don’t know if this ever came to being or not:

        https://archive.triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/under-port-authority-proposal-disabled-riders-get-unlimited-ride-passes/

      • 0 avatar
        TS020

        Seniors get free public transport in my city of 1.5M between 9am and 3pm; the seniors card doubles as a metro pass.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        Since it has become discriminatory to enforce transit fares in Seattle, in your own backyard. Have you ever seen a bum fined for not paying?

  • avatar

    Since GM is gone, I mean it still exist but it is nobody, like walking dead, time has come to bring all those charming street cars back to LA. Can you imagine how wonderful place LA would be if all those dirty cars disappear from streets and they all turned into car-free areas, walking streets where you can also safely ride bikes and hop on the street car with bike if want to travel longer distances.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      One of the most amazing changes to happen in my lifetime is the advent of actual transit in Los Angeles. When I was a kid, EVERYBODY drove in L.A. and you would NEVER try to live there without a car. Now I know several people who moved to L.A. and get along just fine with nothing but a bicycle and a transit pass. Admittedly this is only people who grew up somewhere else and didn’t come programmed from birth to think a car was needed in L.A., but it blows my mind. Most of it is light rail, but there’s also a good busway (neither train nor bus ye shall be), an adorably limited subway, and of course the ol’ city bus. I still wouldn’t try to live car-free there, but by the standards of American infrastructure construction speed, especially in a big city, especially in a place where state politics really only stabilized in the last decade or so, it’s impressive.

  • avatar
    STS_Endeavour

    My commute is 10 blocks, so I use a bike to commute; but I still need my car to visit my folks four counties away – if I hurry, about an 80 minute drive with no traffic – no way I’m doing that on a bike. Hard to qualify for this kind of crap, even if you’re already doing it for the most part.

  • avatar
    thejohnnycanuck

    Damn I’m glad I live far, far away from any major metropolis, can drive whatever the f*%k I want when I want and the closest thing to a traffic jam is when yet another *ssh*l* from Alberta is struggling mentally to deal with what’s known as a curve in the road.

    Seriously, not everyone lives in the city. And to be honest as long as most politicians keep forgetting that I’m good.

  • avatar
    Jeff Semenak

    That picture is no 84 Olds. Vent windows died out long before then.

  • avatar
    REAL_sluggo

    California = the former Soviet Union sans the Military Parades. Communism for all!

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    Pity the Elio has never materialized, with those kinds of state incentives the three-wheeler seems like it would be almost within reach for many folks if it would fit their use case.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      One of our favorite California eccentrics, Storm Sondors — best known for slashing the price of entry for e-bikes — is now trying to do the same for electric cars with a vehicle that is, essentially, an electric sports-Elio. I doubt it will ever see production, but it would be interesting.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Well shit ;

    I live in Los Angeles (one of my addresses) and I never heard one word about this .

    ? Could I trade in my dead Morris Minor for a Motocycle perhaps ?.

    No free transit passes here .

    Anyone whi thinks California id commiland has obviously never been here ~ as soon as you leave the three big cities it’s as white and red neck as you can get .

    -Nate


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