E-bikes Flood Denver Streets

By Allen Cowgill

North Denver residents should expect to see more electric bikes (e-bikes) on the streets this summer and fall. The Denver Office of Climate Action Sustainability and Resiliency (CASR) has continued its climate rebate program started earlier this spring with 1,227 e-bikes being purchased by Denver residents at deeply discounted rates subsidized by the city.

“E-bikes have a huge amount of potential to replace car trips and reduce emissions from the transportation sector,” said Mike Salisbury, the transportation energy lead for CASR. “We want to stimulate a market for this new technology and introduce more Denverites to e-bikes.”

The program is intended for all—any Denver resident can save $400 on an e-bike, while income-qualified residents can save $1,200. However, only income-qualified applications are being accepted at this time, according to CASR.

Residents purchasing a cargo e-bike (a larger e-bike that can accommodate an extra person, children, or extra cargo like groceries) can save an additional $500. Salisbury said that thus far 35% of redemptions have come from income-qualified residents, and 34% of all e-bikes purchased were cargo bikes. The program is funded by Denver’s Climate Protection Fund, a fund approved by voters in 2020.

Money from the increased sales tax supplies $40 million per year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, and supports programs like this one. Alejandra Castañeda, a North Denver resident, purchased an e-cargo bike through FattE-bikes, a locally owned e-bike manufacturer and retailer based in the Sun Valley neighborhood.

She said she took advantage of this program because she wanted to have an easier time getting around North Denver than on a regular bike, especially given the hills throughout and leading into the neighborhood.

Castañeda said she knew e-bikes were quite expensive and when she heard about the $900 discount for an e-cargo bike, she took advantage of the opportunity and got a bike big enough for her 11-year-old daughter to ride on the back with her. She says the process was fairly easy to apply for online and FattE-bikes made it easy to redeem the voucher.

Pete Winterscheidt sits with his Urban Arrow e-cargo bike he purchased from GoodTurn Cycles as part of the climate rebate program.
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Vail

Castañeda envisions she’ll use the bike to go to her daughter’s soccer practices in Wheat Ridge, or to go visit her boyfriend in Congress Park. Before, Castañeda would typically bike only as far as downtown, so her new e-bike is expected to extend her range from home. She said she is excited to try the bike out with her daughter and “be part of this movement to stop relying so much on motor vehicles and have a healthier environment for everyone.”

The next opportunity to take advantage of the program will be on Tuesday, Sep. 6. Vouchers will likely go quickly as they did in previous rounds. In July, the demand for sign ups momentarily crashed Denver’s website due to so much interest.

Denver residents interested in learning more can sign up at denvergov.org/e-bike. The climate rebates have been a boon for local bike shops that are participating.

Morgan Matter, a manager at Framework Cycles in Denver, said the climate rebate has been fantastic for business and fantastic for the community. Matter said she loves that e-bikes are trying to replace car trips with bicycle trips. In particular, she noted it has been great to see people purchase a bike that either couldn’t afford it before or hadn’t been thinking about it. She said e-bikes are beneficial because they open up using a bike to a lot more people.

“If you have a pedal bike and your commute is 10 miles one way, that is not doable or easily doable for a lot of people,” Matter said. “If you have an e-assist bike and you are able to maintain a speed of 18 miles per hour for a ride, you can get there quicker. You don’t have to be an athlete to do that. It makes it more accessible to commute or travel further if it’s an e-assist bike.”

Matter also noted that e-bikes are great for older adults and make biking accessible to folks that may have injuries or pain or would otherwise not have been able to use a traditional pedal bike. In addition,

Matter noted the bike infrastructure in the city is improving, but she would love to see more streets that are safe for people to bike on so that biking can be used for transportation and not just recreation on paths like the Platte River trail.

While there are bike retailers participating in this program throughout the metro area and shops continue to be added to this list, the local North Denver bike shops that are participating as of our press
deadline include:

• eForce Bikes, 3871 Tennyson St.
• Framework Cycles, 3655 Navajo St.
• The HUB Bicycles Denver, 3605 West
Colfax Ave.
• REI, 1416 Platte St.
• SloHi Bikes,4434 W 29th Ave.


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