by Chase Woodruff, Colorado Newsline
Gov. Jared Polis declared Wednesday “Colorado E-Bike Day” as state and local officials came together to tout the climate and clean-air benefits of subsidy programs that one analysis found are the most generous in the country.
The Colorado Public Interest Research Group says a $12 million state rebate program funded by legislation passed earlier this year, combined with millions more from a similar Denver initiative, represent “the biggest investment of any state in the country in e-bike rebates.”
Thousands of Denverites have redeemed e-bike vouchers in several rounds of availability since the April launch of the program, administered by the city’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency. The latest round of vouchers, released Sept. 6, was fully claimed in just 9 minutes, officials said.
“We budgeted a much smaller amount — I think $250,000 to start — and we kept increasing the budget over the year,” said Liz Babcock, the office’s climate team manager. “I believe now we’ve given out $3.3 million in vouchers up to this point … The fact that it’s been so successful means that there really is a big demand out there.”
The city’s program offers a $400 instant rebate for all Denver residents, while residents who meet one of several low-income criteria receive $1,200. An additional $500 is available to offset the cost of an e-cargo bike. The vouchers must be applied to purchases at participating bike shops within the Denver metro area.
I’m not sure there’s anything else that we’ve worked on that has gotten as much instant and positive community reaction as working on e-bikes.
– Will Toor, executive director of the Colorado Energy Office
Industry groups expect more than a million e-bikes to be sold in the U.S. this year, again outpacing electric cars as the best-selling electric vehicles in the country. Advocates say e-bikes are a great way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of air pollution and create healthier, more connected communities in the process.
“Transportation is now the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, and is the major source of the nitrogen-oxide pollution that contributes to our ozone problem,” said Will Toor, executive director of the Colorado Energy Office. “We know that e-bikes are a great tool for giving people opportunity to get around in a way that’s not only fun and healthy, but we know from research really helps to replace car trips with essentially zero-emission e-bike trips.”
The Energy Office launched an e-bike pilot program in late 2020 as part of the state’s pandemic recovery efforts, targeting low-income residents who needed an alternative commuting option amid hesitancy about returning to public transit, Toor said. With funding allocated by Senate Bill 22-193, a larger legislative package of clean-air spending backed by Polis and Democratic lawmakers, the state plans to launch an expanded program by early next year.
“We work on a lot of different issues, and I’m not sure there’s anything else that we’ve worked on that has gotten as much instant and positive community reaction as working on e-bikes,” said Toor.
Applications for the next round of Denver e-bike rebates will open at 8 a.m. on Oct. 3.
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