Local advocates bring e-bike rebates to life in Adelaide

Sometimes making political change can take years of lobbying and campaigning.

Or sometimes it’s just a matter of asking the right questions of the right people, at the right time.

Two electric cargo bike enthusiasts in the south-western suburbs of Adelaide have produced a powerful example of this grass-roots activism, and in the process helped establish the first e-bike rebate program on mainland Australia.

Residents of the City of Holdfast Bay, which includes the suburbs of Brighton, Glenelg, Hove and Seacliff, can now claim rebates of $200 on e-bikes and regular cargo bikes. Rebates of $300 are on offer for electric cargo bikes.

The rebates are being offered as part of the council’s Green Living Rebates program, which has been in place for years and encourages residents to live sustainably by subsidising things such as double-glazed windows, rainwater tanks, worm farms and electric vehicle chargers.

When locals Andrew Dickson and Meggie Presti teamed up to raise awareness about the potential of e-bikes as replacements for cars, they had planned to do months of research on different rebate programs around the world.

But two weeks into the venture, they met with the environment team at the local council and within 24 hours the program was in place.

“We assumed it would be a meet and greet and were prepared to go home to do more research to get the cargo bike subsidy we were looking for,” says Presti.

“In the first three minutes of the meeting they agreed to add cargo bikes and e-bikes to the existing subsidy program.”

The council’s Green Living Rebate program is relatively small, but this allows its environment team to act nimbly and determine which items are added to the list, provided it’s within budget.

“For them it was an obvious fit with their current goals and just made sense,” says Meggie. “It was posted on their website the next day. Funnily enough, we were unaware at the time that Holdfast Bay was leading the way with this initiative.”

The streamlined process serves as a useful example of how positive change needn’t always involve long and drawn-out votes and public consultation periods. 

The e-bike element of the program went live on 7 February and the first rebate has been handed out.

The council will promote the program through local bike shops. While funds last, the rebates will be available to businesses and households in the City of Holdfast Bay who fill in the online form and provide proof of purchase and residency.

Tasmania introduced Australia’s first e-bike rebate program in late 2023, which is now midway and more than $100,00 is still up for grabs.

Meanwhile, the City of Adelaide voted last month to support a motion to develop an e-bike rebate program of its own, which is expected to roll out later in 2024.

EDITOR'S NOTE: E-bikes are helping to get more people on bikes – and we love that. 


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