Denver, CO

Denverites snap up latest e-bike vouchers within minutes

Matt Whittaker
A rider on an e-bike.Photo byraymondclarkeimages via Flickr

By Matt Whittaker / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Denver’s popular electric bicycle rebate program again sold out within minutes, marking another victory for an incentive program that earned national attention as cities try to reduce carbon emissions.

Denver residents snapped up all the available vouchers, which are redeemable at bike shops, in five minutes Tuesday after the online application portal opened at 11 a.m., the city said.

“There's no doubt about it: E-bikes are having a moment in the Mile High City,” Denver’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency said in a newsletter on Wednesday. “Not only are e-bikes popular, but they're also a key climate solution.”  

In the nine months that the program was active last year, the new e-bikes reduced carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions by 2,000 metric tons and could result in about $1 million in avoided fuel and electricity costs annually, according to Rocky Mountain Institute calculations in a March report

In 2022, the city spent $4.7 million to provide vouchers to 4,734 Denver residents, the climate office said in the report. The office estimates those bikes replaced 100,000 vehicle miles each week.

One of the 2022 e-bike rebate recipients, Corrine DePersis, put 700 miles on her bike in about 10 weeks after getting her bike in August. She tries to use the bike for every trip that’s less than five miles away from her home.

“I use it to haul kids, groceries, etc.,” she said in a statement from the city in March after the rebate program notched 5,000 vouchers. “We sold our Subaru Forester to afford my new e-cargo bike and I LOVE it! Our family is now down to one car and two e-cargo bikes, and it's been great!”

The success of the Denver e-bike program has caught state and national attention. 

A 2022 Colorado bill earmarks $12 million for a statewide e-bike program, including rebates for low- and moderate-income residents expected to kick off this summer. A bill from this year’s General Assembly session offers retailers a $500 tax credit if they discount e-bikes by $450, a measure that will cost the state more than $25 million in revenue between fiscal years 2023-2024 and 2025-2026.

Meanwhile, New York e-bike rebate advocates point to Denver’s program, while national advocacy organization PeopleForBikes encouraged other cities to look at Denver’s model. Portland advocates in March pointed to the report that included RMI research.

On May 20, Jean Walsh, an Oakland, Calif., city official, tweeted a photo of her mother, who lives in Denver, riding an electric bicycle she bought through the local program.

“Happy new bike day to my 75-year-old mom!” Walsh said. “The $300 Denver ebike rebate spurred her to make a purchase.”

Amy Kenreich, a local graphic designer and chair of the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee in Denver, on Tuesday tweeted her support for the rebate program with a photo of a man and woman with a large bag, apparently for shopping, on the rear rack of a cargo e-bike.

“This is what the @DenverCASR ebike rebates are doing to our city,” she said. “Our friends who used to drive everywhere are now sending me pictures from Sam’s Club.”

This year, Denver residents can get a $300 standard rebate for an e-bike or $500 for an e-bike built to handle larger cargo loads like kids or family-sized grocery runs. Those rebates rise to $1,200 and $1,400 for people who meet lower-income requirements.

Three other release dates for the program are scheduled for July 25, Sept. 26 and Nov. 28. 

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Matt Whittaker writes about natural resources industries, including oil and gas, mining, renewable energy, agriculture and cannabis. He's been based in the Denver metro area since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter @mattswhittaker.

Lakewood, CO

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