Remarks to NJTPA 9/12/22
Chairman Bartlett, Director Behrend, Thank you for the opportunity to speak.
Today I will highlight the opportunities and challenges of facilitating “micro mobility” as part of the Active Transportation Plan (“ATP”).
Micro mobility is a mode of transportation that encompasses: E-Bikes, scooters, skateboards and cargo bikes—both personal and shared.1 2
Micro-mobility offers a unique opportunity to reduce “vehicle miles traveled” (“VMTs”). 62% of E-Bike trips taken in North America replaced those that would have been taken by car.3
The transition from internal combustion would cost far less, and happen on a far shorter timeline, than subsidizing purchase of full-size electric vehicles and building out the charging charging infrastructure.
Anticipate Micro Mobility When Designing the Bike Grid
Job #1 is to create the infrastructure necessary for safe operation. As any New York City resident can attest, micro mobility devices stress active transport grids. So any plan to grow active transportation must anticipate their use in increasingly greater numbers.
And it should task bridge operators to expand access at each opportunity.
Additionally, this network should include service roads under power lines.4
Consider E-Cargo Bikes as Alternative to Trucks
In urban areas, task parcel movers to replace trucks with cargo bikes.5
Subsidize E-Bike Purchase
The Active Transportation Plan should recommend that New Jersey subsidize E-Bike purchase.
France reimburses E-Bike purchase up to €4000 ($4000). To be eligible for the full rebate, residents need to trade in an old car (“cash for clunkers”) and live in an urban low-emission zone. Outside city centers, the incentive is capped at €3000 ($3000).7
Belgium provides tax credits to bike commuters of €0.25 per kilometer (40¢ per mile). This arrangement favors long commutes enabled by E-Bikes.
In the U.S., Vermont and Massachusetts subsidize E-Bike purchase. Colorado and California plan to.7 8 9 10
But if North Jersey only builds the infrastructure, it will enable residents avoid the looming disincentive to driving posed by NYC’s congestion pricing.
Such a network, plus a shared micro mobility component, could even surmount the historic impediment to greater utilization of Hudson ferry service—the climb up the Palisades.10 11
This is not a one-agency project. NJDOT, NJTransit, BPU, the Port Authority, plus counties and municipalities all have roles to play.12
1 “Hot Off the Presses, Streetsblog Publishes a Seminal ‘Field Guide to Micro Mobility’ ” StreetsBlog, 11/5/21, https://tinyurl.com/372bevfe
2 “NYC Field Guide to Micro Mobility (PDF download)” StreetsBlog, 11/5/21, https://tinyurl.com/yspy7ctj
3 Making the case for E-Bikes, Planetizen, 5/24/22, https://tinyurl.com/mrxdavwk
4 “Trails and Utilities,” Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, viewed 9/11/22, https://tinyurl.com/4n8d74v6
5 Microdose: NYC Takes Small Step Towards Cargo Bike And Small Vehicle Delivery Centers, Streetsblog, 8/23/22, https://tinyurl.com/ybyxf6jh
6 “What if Electric Bikes were as cheap as Conventional Bikes,” Bloomberg, 6/4/22, https://tinyurl.com/5edh8b99
7 J. MacArthur, C. Cherry, L. Jones, “How Can E-bike Purchase Incentives Grow the E-bike Market?,” Transportation Research and Education Center, Portland State University, https://tinyurl.com/3atxhzmr
8 The Best Cargo Bikes Will Let You Ditch the Minivan, Bicycling Magazine, 5/4/20, https://tinyurl.com/ybp79zry
9 “Who’s Winning on Consumer Climate Incentives: the US or Europe?,” Bloomberg, 9/3/22, https://tinyurl.com/556bbwwy
10 “Bicycles may provide another means of accessing ferries for commutation between New Jersey and New York City.”, Trans-Hudson Commuting Capacity Study, Appendix B Multi-Modal Strategies, p.20, Port Authority of NY-NJ, 9/21/16, https://tinyurl.com/2p8rzsw6
11 “The Hillside Line of the North Hudson County Railway Company,” Scientific American, 1894, https://tinyurl.com/2p9xwmyu
12 Bike, Pedestrian, and Micromobility Strategic Action Plan, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 2022, https://tinyurl.com/42t4feh4
Neile Weissman, 2022