Boulder is considering an e-bike rebate program similar to the successful program launched in Denver earlier this year.
The program, which will be briefly discussed at Boulder City Council’s meeting on Tuesday, would provide some sort of incentive for people who buy e-bikes, though specific details have yet to be worked out.
For example, in a program that temporarily reached capacity in three weeks, Denver offered a discount of $400 to all Denver residents and up to $1,200 for those who fell within certain incomes. The incentive could not exceed the total purchase price, and the city limited it to one e-bike per person, which had to be purchased at one of nearly 20 participating bike shops.
Additionally, Denver offered an additional $500 for e-cargo bikes, which are larger, gear-carrying bikes with a motor that can be used to haul kids, groceries, or anything else.
Boulder City Council members will be asked if they’d like to give a five-way nod — an informal majority show of support — to amend the Transportation and Mobility Department’s work plan to incorporate a program similar pilot in 2022.
But whether or not the proposal receives majority support, Boulder will likely come up with incentives for e-bikes soon.
Even if the Council chooses not to move forward with a pilot program this year, Boulder transportation staff are in the early stages of researching a similar program that would begin in 2023.
According to Acting Director of Transportation and Mobility Natalie Stiffler, this timing might work better because that’s when Colorado plans to launch an e-bike rebate program at the statewide, for which he allocated $12 million. It would also give the city more time to research who the program should serve and how Boulder would measure success before an official launch.
For Stiffler, a pilot program offers the opportunity to test a few questions: Will putting more e-bikes in the hands of more people change their mode of transportation? Will people who get an e-bike through a potential program use it primarily for recreational purposes? Or could they eliminate single-passenger vehicle trips and use their bicycles instead?
“For me, that’s kind of the point of a pilot project – to test this and be able to track how people are using it and whether or not it makes a difference from that perspective,” he said. she declared.
It’s possible that Community Cycles, a nonprofit cycling advocacy organization and bike shop in Boulder, could play a role.
Stiffler said the organization came up with a proposal using what it learned when it coordinated something similar: a smaller-scale e-bike program for low-income essential workers in the area.
In general, the industry thinking is that more e-bikes means people travel fewer miles in the vehicles and thus produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, Stiffler noted.
And that was the idea behind the introduction of e-bike incentives in Boulder when the idea was discussed at the June 13 Transportation Advisory Council meeting.
“Putting more e-bikes into the homes of more people in Boulder could be a great way to increase mode shift for us,” board member Ryan Schuchard said at the meeting.
It could also be a fun way to tap into Boulder’s cycling culture and community, he added.
The rest of the board generally agreed.
While council cannot implement a policy on its own, council members said they would support further exploration of the idea as long as council or the transport department agrees to go from the front.
“It’s an obvious suggestion in my opinion,” said member Triny Willerton.
“Anything we could do to get more e-bikes on our roads…I think that would be a game-changer for a lot of people,” she added.
If you look
What: Boulder City Council meeting
When: 6:00 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Council and city staff will participate from remote locations. Residents can watch the meeting on Boulder’s YouTube channel or on Channel 8.