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Transportation

Oslo Offers Citizens $1,200 to Buy an E-Bike

The goal is to help residents—rich and poor alike—find a new reason to leave the car at home.
An electric cargo bike can carry heavier loads easily, such as this one being used by the German postal service.
An electric cargo bike can carry heavier loads easily, such as this one being used by the German postal service.Carl Paulaner Hefe-weizen/Flickr

Oslo is so keen to get people on bicycles that starting Wednesday it will offer residents a free handout of up to $1,200 to buy electric cargo bikes. Citizens won’t need to be on a low income to apply for the funds, or even to promise to cut down on driving to qualify.

The grant, which goes toward buying a bike with a small electric motor that allows it to carry heavier loads in a basket or trailer, may sound too good to be true, but it isn’t a total free-for-all. The city will pay up to 25 percent of the bike’s cost, capping the grant at 10,000 kroner. Electric cargo bikes currently cost between 20,000 and 50,000 kroner ($2,400 to $6,000), meaning that buyers will still have to rustle up between $1,800 and $4,800 from their own funds. That’s a lot of free municipal money for a pretty niche mode of transport.