@wescoastcyclist tweeted link to Remove the PST and Add Rebates for Electric Bikes. 2017-04-14 13:57:43 -0700
Currently in B.C. bicycles and transportation fares are exempt from PST charges, and clean energy vehicles are eligible for rebates up to $5,000. Purchases of new electric bicycles, and their electric parts, are charged PST, and are not eligible for rebates. Something doesn’t seem right here, does it?
For a brief period of time, when B.C. was running the HST tax, electric bikes did, in fact, receive tax exemptions. It seems that in the transition back to the system we currently use, minor details such as taxes on assisted bikes slipped through the cracks.
For small business owners however, this detail feels rather significant. "It's really quite a hassle." Says Paul Dragan of Reckless Bikes. "When repairing an electric bike, we have to charge PST on the electric parts like the battery and motor while there is no PST on the bike parts like wheels and brakes.". Creating two separate lines, and a once unnecessary step to small business’s financial records, is cumbersome and aggravating.
For individuals, the re-added tax could be a barrier to purchasing, or converting to, an e-bike. Electric bikes suitable for commuting typically cost $1500-$3000, making the suggested PST exemption worth about $105 - $210 for buyers, plus on-going PST charges on maintaining parts. Additionally, a rebate would provide financial incentives for individuals to incorporate active transportation into their daily lives.
Electric bikes are being studied by biking centres around the world. The Netherlands, and Norway have measured significant increases in bicycle trip length, and frequency due to use of electric bikes. In 2013, a survey in the Netherlands reported that 5 percent of the total population, and 10 percent of the 60+ population owned an e-bike, and those with electric models ride twice as many kilometers compared to the 60+ cyclists with a regular bike. In 2014, they found that those with e-bikes rode 22% more kilometres per week, and the average commuting distance rose from 6.3 to 9.8 kilometres. Assisted bikes make up 21% of bicycles sales in the Netherlands.
Electric bicycles remove accessibility barriers by allowing riders to conquer hills, speeds, and distances that would otherwise be impossible for some people. These machines, that emit zero carbon, make active transportation a viable option for a broader population, opening it up to all ages and abilities, especially in combination with safe cycling infrastructure.
With B.C.’s aggressive climate targets for 2050, and municipal initiatives to increase active transportation, removing financial barriers to access electric bicycles is logical. Considering that it was not long ago that we actually didn’t pay taxes on these bikes, it is more of an error correction, than a radical request.
The British Columbia Cycling Coalition has submitted a formal request to remove the PST and add rebates, similar to those available for electric cars, as part of their Climate Leadership Action Plan recommendation.
Also included in the recommendations a billion dollars over ten years for bike paths and protected bike lanes as well as improved design standards that can safely accommodate electric bikes and enable longer distance commuting.Official response from Baggio Ma submitted
Bold Action Now
It is time for bold action now to enable every person, including older adults and children, in BC to cycle or walk for their everyday trips.
Investing $1 billion over ten years in cycling and walking will send a strong message to the world that BC is serious about addressing Climate Change.
Cycling and walking will become attractive choices for everyone, leading to significantly improved fitness and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, congestion, and traffic injuries and fatalities. The paths and protected bike lanes could also be used by people in wheelchairs and other mobile devices.
Investing in cycling and walking will benefit the economy by increasing tourism, reducing healthcare costs, increasing workplace productivity, attracting talented workers, and reducing the societal costs of traffic fatalities and injuries.
Cycling is Popular
There is broad public support for cycling improvements. In the B.C. on the Move Engagement Survey, 72% of respondents supported enhancing cycling infrastructure. Cycling is popular. Almost 70% of adults in BC ride a bicycle at least once a year, 42% at least once a month and 25% at least once a week. Many want to cycle more, with around 65% indicating they would ride more if there were separated bike lanes that protected them from traffic.
A Transportation Bargain
On a per dollar basis, we all benefit more from cycling more than other modes. While bike paths and protected bike lanes are a bargain that will benefit far more people per dollar invested than other transportation projects, it does take a significant amount of cash to build networks of them in communities around the Province. For example:
- Metro Vancouver: $850 million
- Capital Regional District: $275 million
- City of Kelowna: $267 million (cycling and walking)
- City of Chilliwack: $27 Million
- City of Kamloops: $13 Million
At current rates of investment, these plans will take 30, 40 or even 50 years to complete, leaving people to brave busy roads on their bikes or more likely, not bothering to bike at all. Today's children will be grandparents by then.
The Provincial investment combined with local and federal funds will enable the completion of ambitious local and regional plans across BC. For example, the Metro Vancouver Regional Cycling Strategy predicts that upon network build out, cycling will increase to 10% of trips. The CRD Regional Pedestrian and Cycling Master Plan predicts cycling network build out cycling mode share will increase to 15%.
The funding for the $1 billion investment could come from a variety of sources including an increase in the Carbon Tax, predicted budget surpluses, a reallocation of transportation budget, cutting the tax break on those earning over $150,000 or a tax on sugary drinks.
By providing people with practical and safe transportation choices, this investment would decrease the rate of the Carbon Tax required to meet Provincial goals also saving money for those who don't cycle or walk.
I call upon the Government of BC to enable everyone in BC to cycle & walk in safety as part of their daily lives by implementing an Active Transportation Strategy that includes:
- Investing $1 billion over the next ten years to:
- Upgrade cycling & walking facilities on provincial roads & bridges
- Complete cycling & walking networks in communities across BC
- Provide safe routes to school for children
- Build trails & routes for cycling & walking tourism
- Ensuring that paths & protected bike lanes can be safely shared by people using wheelchairs, skateboards & in-line skates
- Enhancing cycling education for children & adults
- Promoting cycling & walking
- Encouraging electric bike use by eliminating the PST & providing rebates