While many people have told me to get off my high-horse about helping low income folks with an E-Bike leasing program, Denver has found that it has measurable results;

Researchers at Portland State University are tracking 65 programs nationwide that are active or that have been approved to help people get on e-bikes, either through subsidies or loaning a bike. California plans to launch a statewide program next year backed by $10 million.

E-bikes, which have a motor and battery to propel riders, can cost about $2,000, putting them out of reach for many low-income families. Denver’s program has two tiers, with one that offers $400 to any city resident — an amount aimed at sweetening the deal for would-be buyers. For low-income residents, the second tier increases the voucher size to $1,200, a sum city officials say should make the bikes more widely affordable.

Two other elements of the program are designed to encourage buyers to use their bikes for transportation: a bonus of $500 for cargo bikes, which can carry children or a large load, while full-suspension mountain bikes used primarily for recreation aren’t eligible.

And after Denver tried this pilot program, guess what they found out;

A city survey found new e-bike riders were riding, on average, 26.2 miles per week, and that low-income buyers were riding about 32 miles per week. Respondents said they had replaced 3.4 car trips each week with bike rides.

“It’s so much faster,” said Rink, who commutes by e-bike. “It’s much less of a chore. There is an element of joy in riding the e-bike.”

I would agree, my main reason I like riding my E-Bike is because it is enjoyable, but if you look at the results of this successful program it is also equitable. I hope the new transportation board in Sioux Falls looks at this.

4 Thoughts on “Denver, CO sees measurable results from incentivizing E-Bikes

  1. D@ily Spin on December 20, 2022 at 9:49 pm said:

    Denver has few bike trails. Traffic is horrible. Streets are not bike friendly. The smog is referred to as ‘The Brown Cloud’. Crime is a problem. It’s obvious much of the population drives stoned or drunk. I’d want the security and controlled environment inside a car. Skiers from Texas and California can’t drive on icy streets. What’s needed is monetary Electric Cars incentive.

    Sioux Falls is a better deployment for bikes. The bike trails around the city are quicker in many cases than streets. However, winter is a problem.

  2. Scott D Hudson on December 21, 2022 at 2:14 pm said:

    Waiting for the inevitable whinging replies from wannabe “patriots” who believe the biggest gas guzzling trucks are the most American purchase you can make.

  3. Very Stable Genius on December 21, 2022 at 7:50 pm said:

    There are three classifications of electric bicycles. Only classification one is legal on our bike trail, but the physical differences between one, two, and three are minimal, which makes enforcement of the issue tough. Unless E-bikes are just a fade, the day will come when we will have to ask if we can still allow them on our trails. But that’s also assuming that they are a safety issue. Although, they often pass me on the trail with my one speed beach cruiser regardless of classification. So, a study needs to be done to see if they have contributed to more accidents on the trail. Then we should go from there on the overall issue of E-bikes, the trail, versus making our streets more bike safe as an alternative route in more ways than one.

  4. VSG, I would agree 100%. The issue on the bike trail is speed. I set my E-Bike so it won’t go over 14 MPH unless coasting down a hill. I am mostly passed by non-ebike riders who are riding high-end road bikes, I also get looks when other E-Bike riders pass me, wondering why I am going so slow. I would like to see the city’s Wellness department (If it still exists after the director quit) to do safety/education programs along the bike trail on high traffic days like Sunday or Saturday. Educate citizens on what is allowable, the speeds, bike safety, maintenance, etc. This has been done in the past by volunteer FAB members, but you are right, the city needs to take a serious look at who is using the trail and why.

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