The state of Colorado is pedaling circles round different states and native governments on the subject of getting its residents on electrical bikes. And Oregon advocates are envious.
Rachel Hultin, sustainable transportation director at nonprofit Bicycle Colorado, shared an replace on their efforts at Portland’s Electrical Bikes for All working group assembly final week. From what Hultin shared, it’s evident Coloradans have realized electrical bikes is usually a severe device to switch automobile journeys.
Right here’s what they’re as much as…
Metropolis of Denver
The Metropolis of Denver has an e-bike rebate program funded by way of town’s voter-approved Local weather Safety Fund gross sales tax. All Denver residents are eligible for a $400 e-bike credit score, and income-qualified residents can obtain $1,200. Plus, there’s a further $500 out there for folks shopping for dearer e-cargo bikes, which many households can testify is a superb substitute for the gas-guzzling minivan as a approach to schlep their children round.
So as to qualify for Denver’s e-bike rebate program, which presents 2,000 vouchers a month on a first-come, first-serve foundation (they had been snatched up in 9 minutes this month!), you need to purchase your bike from a store with a brick-and-mortar retail location in Denver. As such, e-bike gross sales have boomed, demonstrating one other profit of those applications: they’re good for the native economic system.
However Denver isn’t the one place in Colorado taking e-bike motion – it’s taking place all through the state, together with in additional rural areas. Like Oregon, Colorado is a geographically massive state with many distant pockets outdoors the massive Denver metro space, and lawmakers statewide have realized electrical bikes might be possible in these rural areas, too.
A ‘Can Do’ Angle
Hultin shared particulars of the Can Do Colorado Neighborhood Problem, a program shaped to “present sources to native communities and companies to assist safely reopen the economic system after COVID-19 restrictions and work towards a more healthy, extra sustainable future.” By means of this program, the Colorado Power Workplace dedicated $500,000 towards an e-bike pilot in 2020, giving 13 low-income important staff within the Denver metro space a free e-bike and all the mandatory equipment (helmet, lock, lights, and so forth.) so long as they pledged to make use of their new bike as their important mode of transportation.
Contributors of this pilot program had been requested to make use of an app to trace their journeys and supply details about how they had been utilizing their e-bikes. Apps just like the recently-relaunched Journey App serve an identical goal to present native governments an concept about how their applications are working to encourage e-bike ridership.
A report detailing the outcomes of the 2020 e-bike pilot illustrates how the members’ lives modified after they acquired their new bikes.
“Since I acquired the e-bike, I’m not utilizing a automobile… I solely wish to take a experience or a stroll on foot. It’s modified me so much,” one participant stated. One other particular person stated they like using their e-bike as a result of “it frees [their] thoughts up away from the world for only a second.” The psychological advantages of using a motorcycle versus driving a automobile are to not be underestimated.
Because the pilot had solely 13 members, the insights gleaned are pretty restricted, however Hultin stated advocates had been excited to listen to what they needed to say – and for the reason that program was expanded the next yr, it appears like policymakers listened, too.
State of Colorado
In 2021, the State of Colorado supplied $700,000 in grant awards to communities statewide to encourage e-bike entry. Along with permitting alternatives for e-bike possession, the grants additionally funded some e-bike share membership applications, which Hultin stated have made a giant community-level impression.
This is smart – bike share applications unfold the love. Right here in Portland, the Biketown for All program has allowed individuals who meet earnings necessities to entry e-bikes without spending a dime. Denver has an e-bike share system too (which, like Biketown, can be operated by Lyft), however is taking up shared electrical bike entry from one other entrance with its e-bike library program.
Lastly, the state is growing one more e-bike program as a part of an air high quality invoice, which can give $12 million to applications increasing electrical bike entry throughout the state. Along with giving extra e-bike rebates to Colorado residents, this program will embrace an electrical bike cargo business supply pilot to check the feasibility of different freight supply strategies.
These applications are all very thrilling and have confirmed profitable to get folks on bikes. However affordability isn’t the one issue stopping folks from using bikes, electrical or in any other case. Even the perfect e-bike rebate program will fail to ship desired outcomes if folks don’t really feel secure using their bikes to the locations they should go. Hultin stated that is one thing advocates in Colorado are holding in thoughts.
“It’s manifestly apparent there are extra folks using e-bikes for transportation,” Hultin stated. “It actually amplifies the necessity to make these investments within the infrastructure.”
Hultin described the presence of e-bikes on the streets as an “indicator species of a wholesome transportation system” – an indication that policymakers are investing in the fitting issues.
“I actually consider that if our transportation system works for e-bikes, it’s going to work for everyone, as a result of it means our roads are secure. It means folks have entry to reasonably priced transportation and it additionally means we’re actually proactively working to mitigate our local weather disaster,” she stated.
Hultin additional emphasised the political will for e-bikes in Colorado by bringing Senator Julie Gonzales, a recipient of considered one of Colorado’s e-bike rebates, to talk on the E-bikes for All assembly about how essential her bike is to her.
“It’s such a good way to have the ability to transfer my physique and likewise do one thing that’s good for my neighborhood and the planet,” Gonzales shared.
Whereas some Oregon policymakers, like e-cargo bike rider Consultant Khanh Pham (proper) and nationwide e-bike incentive advocate Rep Earl Blumenauer, have proven a private relationship to bikes which may elevate their political dedication to the trigger, Coloradans have really moved past phrases, have taken motion, and are dashing previous us on this difficulty.
However e-bike advocates in Oregon are well-organized and impassioned, and received’t cease their work till we’re on the identical path. “An thrilling factor concerning the Colorado program is that they’ve some clear funding and it appeared like having that pilot venture actually allowed for them to make it an even bigger venture within the following years,” stated E Bikes For All member Kiel Johnson, whose gears are already turning on how greatest to repeat Colorado’s concepts.
See Hultin’s slide presentation (which has hyperlinks to nice information and sources) right here.
Taylor has been BikePortland’s workers author since November 2021. She has additionally written for Avenue Roots and Eugene Weekly. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org