Questions rise over bike rebates Leave a comment


DID YOU KNOW? Bonnie Donovan

Did You Know? was called last week by a Santa Barbara resident who is really upset with the city over the electric bike rebate program.

Let us remind you of what was published in this column in November 2020, December 2020 and February 2021 regarding the city’s bike-share program. 

When the previous transportation manager brought to council the electric bike program, public commenters called asking why is free real estate being given to the company BCycle, an affiliate of Trek Bike? The city claimed it was a pilot program. Remember, the scooter company in town that was forced out claiming they were unsafe, tripping hazards etc? So the city chased that company out only to allow a Los Angeles company to come up and rent its scooters on Cabrillo Boulevard. Hmmm …

During all the meetings, callers asked, how are they going to change out the batteries each day, using a vehicle? They said they would be riding a bike to each place with the batteries on a trailer.

Why are we now seeing this big white van driving around to each group of bike stands to change out the batteries?

Then the caller let us in on the big secret kept by the city of Santa Barbara:  When you buy an electric bike in the State of California, you receive a $1,000 rebate.  Now recall that the city of Santa Barbara had the choice to join with an already established clean energy company, or to start its own operation.  So the city started its own Santa Barbara Clean Energy. Citizens were automatically enrolled in this program unless they chose to opt-out by calling in to do so. This caller, not knowing about that option, is now inadvertently enrolled in Santa Barbara Clean Energy.

However, when applying for an electric bicycle rebate, the caller was denied and told to apply to Santa Barbara Clean Energy Company. When this individual went to Santa Barbara Clean Energy (aka the city of Santa Barbara), they were told they didn’t qualify because they didn’t buy their electric bike from EBikes Santa Barbara. (Is this the very same company the city brought in for the bike-share program?) This local, native Santa Barbaran bought their $4,000 electric bike from a 30-year bike company in Santa Barbara. Do you see the problem yet?  

Now a little history on this local company that has been in business for more than 30 years. Did you know an entrepreneur started Velo Pro Cyclery in Santa Barbara?

Over the years, their business has transitioned and now sells electric bikes.  They pay their rent and pay their sales tax every year.  

Back then. the transportation manager at the time enthusiastically said, “… the BCycles are only $14 an hour when the local bike stores charge $20 an hour. This is like free advertising!”

We can’t wait to see how the point-to-point electric bikes “… will reduce traffic congestion by 40%…”  per the owner of BCycles.  We wonder how the local bicycle shops felt about that situation of being undercut by an out-of-state vendor, aided by the city.

Remember, Did You Know? reported BCycle moved into town and was given free real estate all along Cabrillo Boulevard, State Street, Santa Barb ara City College Mesa, Eastside, Westside etc.  

Since anyone who buys an electric bike anywhere in California, is eligible to receive a $1,000.00 rebate, why not here in Santa Barbara? The city started its own clean energy company where one will only receive a rebate of $200 — if you buy through its “special partner” — EBikes Santa Barbara.   Whatever happened to inclusive fair practices?

While we are on this idea of batteries, did you know that when a Tesla recently caught on fire in the tow yard, it required 4,500 gallons of water to permanently extinguish the fire?

The fire kept reigniting because of thermal runaway, which occurs when lithium-ion battery cells self-heat in reaction to extreme temperatures.  “Extracting precious metals essential for electrical vehicles and extinguishing EV fires are resource-intensive. GOVTECH reported it takes about 500,000 gallons of water to mine 1 metric ton of lithium.” How is this sustainable? How is this green? How does this contribute to water conservation?

Let us remind you of what we wrote in December 2020, BCycle’s Regional Manager, Jesse Rosenberg, states “… that action on this program of 250 battery-operated bikes with 500 electric docks this year, has been such an instrumental step into “climate change” and into making other transportation options for SB.”

How does this operation of battery-operated bikes lend itself to “carbon control” more efficiently than a plain old bicycle run on human pedal power?

Regular bikes are good enough for New York City, Denmark and even at our beach hotels. 

How do electric bikes support our elderly population? 

With downtown street parking disappearing, the State Street pedestrian promenade makes it impossible to drop off anyone at The Granada for events or anywhere else in the downtown area. The Arlington Theatre and its neighbors stood their ground to retain a section of the street for parking. See what happens when you stand your ground?

An update on our recent two-part series on the Santa Barbara Unified School District,  now that the national spotlight has revealed a new awareness of what our children are being taught by way of social emotional learning, indoctrination of critical race theory, and with the confusion of gender-bender politics, it has come to our attention that school districts around the country are pricing out parents on public records request by charging enquirers thousands of dollars.

First, the school districts and local governments stall and stall to prevent information being made public. Now if administrators are legally forced to provide information, they make it prohibitively expensive! Is this currently happening in Santa Barbara? If not, it certainly could.

We need an organized approach to establish and implement a parent/guardian rights coalition in all schools.

Tomorrow, we celebrate the Fourth of July, the birth of our nation, and State Street used to be the home to the Independence Day parade.

With the recent Santa Barbara City Council meeting discussing the fate and future of our downtown corridor, State Street, we invite Santa Barbarans to pay close attention to the effect the Fiesta Parade will have traipsing up and down Cabrillo Boulevard, rather than traveling up State Street, the traditional venue for more than 100 years.

What we really appreciate about Mayor Randy Rowse is his ability to get to the heart of the matter. At this most recent meeting, he told the council before the vote, “We met today, we talked about stuff, and we still kicked the can down the road. That is kind of how we roll sometimes … The next time we meet I would like to see something actionable … We spent a whole bunch of time, doing exactly what we have done before, yakking about it, and I don’t think we got anywhere.”

We applaud his candor.

For decades, one of the Fourth  of July main celebrations in Santa Barbara was its parade starting at the beach and marching up State Street. We certainly hope it is reinstated for next year, up State Street, along with Solstice, Fiesta, Los Ninos, Christmas parades and all the other traditional uses of State Street.

However, let’s remember that reverence for our country is at the forefront of any Fourth of July celebration.

“One flag, one Land.  One heart, one hand.  One Nation, evermore.”
—  Oliver Wendell Holmes

Bonnie Donovan writes the “Did You Know?” column in conjunction with a bipartisan group of local citizens. It appears Sundays in the Voices section.



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