Editor, The Cheshire Herald:
Last month in the state legislature, there was a public hearing for S.B. 4, an act concerning the Connecticut Clean Air Act. In general terms, the purpose of the bill is to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions in Connecticut and improve the air quality of our state. For many, this is reason enough to support the passage of the bill. But I chose to submit written testimony and to testify in person for one reason that is particularly important to Cheshire.
For years, our big logistics/warehouse businesses in our north end have said they struggle to hire and retain workers because transportation to and from our industrial north end is a challenge for low- to middle-income workers. We have a state bus route that runs through town, but the route isn’t convenient for workers in our north end. This is where S.B. 4 may help our business community here in Cheshire.
A provision of the bill is to add e-bikes to a tax rebate program called CHEAPR. Briefly, low- to middle-income individuals and families may qualify for a tax rebate of at least $500 (the amount may go up to $1,000) for the purchase of an e-bike with a value of at least $2,000 (this amount may be raised to $3,000.) E-bikes, especially cargo e-bikes, are more expensive than the average pedal bike, but they are truly ‘vehicles’ that are capable of being car replacements. So as all of us are feeling the pain at the gas pump, a rebate on the purchase of an e-bike is very timely. In fact, for some, e-bikes could be a way to nearly eliminate the pain at the pump rather than just reduce it.
Anyway, our industrial zone businesses struggle to recruit and retain more workers from Waterbury, Meriden, Hamden and beyond because of transportation issues (i.e., an imperfect bus route.) The center of Meriden is about 8 miles away, Waterbury is 12 miles away, Hamden is about 11 miles and Wallingford is 9 miles away. It happens that a comfortable commuting range for e-bikes is as much as 12-15 miles; so, several of the larger towns around Cheshire are well within e-bike range. The inclusion of e-bikes in the CHEAPR rebate program could be a real game changer for several of Cheshire’s largest employers (and taxpayers) and this is very good for our town.