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Kam Buckner sponsors state bill for electric bike rebates, emphasizing equity

An electric cargo bike. Photo: Four Star Family Cyclery

In January the bike advocacy groups Ride Illinois and the Active Transportation Alliance launched a campaign for a statewide e-bike incentive program. Now there's some action on that front in Springfield.

Illinois state rep Kam Bucker (D-26th), who recently ran for mayor, has been working on a new proposed e-bike rebate bill, HB3447, for the past two months. The legislation would would provide a point-of-sale discount to residents who buy an electric bicycle, which can help reduce congestion and pollution by encouraging them to replace car trips with bike commutes.

Kam Buckner
Kam Buckner
Kam Buckner

The bill would give special priority to people who are eligible for food or energy payment assistance assistance, and/or make less than 300 percent of the federal poverty limit. Communities within an EPA "nonattainment area," a location whose air quality does not meet the air quality standards set by the agency, such as the Chicago region, will also be prioritized for the rebates. Eligible business can register with the Illinois Department of Revenue to be reimbursed by the state for the discounts they provide to customers.

Buckner filed the bill, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Laura Faver Dias (D-62nd), on February 17. On February 28 it was assigned to the Revenue & Finance Committee, which hasn't voted on it yet.

"[Passing the legislation] would show the state is committed to becoming a more bike-friendly place and that we are being sensitive to the economic barriers that may exist for certain Illinoians to own e-bikes," Buckner told Streetsblog. Buckner added that this issue is personal to him because he rides bicycles himself, and he believes in increasing the amount of cycling in Illinois through safer infrastructure and incentives.

Along with state reps Theresa Mah (D-2nd) and Kelly Cassidy (D-14th), Buckner also sponsored HB 3530, which would lower the default speed limit in urban areas from 30 mph to 20. Last week at a House transportation committee meeting, members asked for amendments to the bill. Once the legislation is amended, it will return to the committee, probably next week.

Another livable street bill Kam Buckner cosponsored with state rep Janet Yang Rohr (D-41st) is HB 3923, which would partially legalize the "Idaho Stop" by allowing cyclists treating stop signs like yield sign. It would require bike riders to check for cross traffic and pedestrians before proceeding through the intersection. It did not come up for a vote at the House transportation committee meeting last week.

But wait, there's more! Along with Mah, Buckner also filed HB3649, which would legalize the other component of the "Idaho Stop," cyclists treating a red light like a stop sign. This was submitted on February 17, and received its first reading and Rules Committee referral on the same day. Then, on February 28, it was assigned to Transportation: Vehicles & Safety Committee.

Thanks to Buckner and his allies, there's a lot of legislation currently in play that could make Illinois a better state for bicyclists.

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