Boulder opts out of 2022 e-bike incentive pilot program

Boulder will not launch an e-bike rebate program this year.

However, the concept is likely to return in 2023 when the city can apply for a portion of the $12 million distributed by the state for e-bike incentive programs across Colorado.

On June 21, City Council members were asked if they would like to give a five-way nod – an informal majority show of support – to amend the Transport and Mobility Department’s work plan to incorporate a pilot e-bike rebate program in 2022.

While most members expressed support for the pilot, the Board ultimately chose not to give the go-ahead, at least in part because it would require diverting the attention of Boulder’s transportation staff from the central arterial system. .

“This will take a lot of staff time over the next two months,” acting director of transportation and mobility Natalie Stiffler said June 21, adding that the city is expected to delay community engagement planned for this summer. on one of its first major arterial network projects. Basic route.

Dubbed CAN, the network is a priority that the Board unanimously endorsed at this year’s retreat. It will focus on creating a connected system with protected bike lanes, intersection improvements, pedestrian amenities and transit facility improvements along some of Boulder’s busiest streets where the most accidents.

The e-bike incentive program, originally suggested by members of Boulder’s Transportation Advisory Committee and presented Tuesday by council member Matt Benjamin, was inspired by the successful program launched in Denver earlier this year.

In a previous interview with the camera, Stiffler said a pilot program would allow Boulder to test some questions: Will putting more e-bikes in the hands of more people change their mode transport ? 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 take the bike instead?

Now that he’s working toward something more permanent, Boulder will need to develop his own measures of success and figure out who might be best served by such an incentive program and how to get the word out to those who might benefit.

In the Denver program, coordinated by the climate team, the city offered a $400 rebate to all Denver residents and up to $1,200 to those in certain income levels. The incentive could not exceed the total purchase price, and the city limited it to one e-bike per person.

Denver offered an additional $500 for e-cargo bikes or a larger speed cargo bike with a motor that can be used to haul kids, groceries or anything else.

If and when it starts its own program, Boulder could partner with Community Cycles, a cycling advocacy nonprofit and bike shop that launched a smaller-scale e-bike program for workers last summer. low-income essentials.

Executive Director Sue Prant said her organization is “prepared to do whatever it takes to make this program happen,” whether or not Boulder decides to contract with Community Cycles.

“We believe e-bikes will be a game-changer for Boulder, especially for those on longer commutes,” Prant said, later adding, “The data shows that people are replacing a significant number of car rides with electric bike trips.

Benjamin, who is one of the city council members who suggested the central arterial network project, ultimately denied the request for a five-nod, noting that he had no intention of slowing down this work.

High gas prices are one of the reasons he suggested starting the e-bike program this year. By offering discounts on e-bikes, Benjamin envisioned a win-win scenario, where Boulder could meet a community need while encouraging people to take fewer car trips.

“It frustrates me a bit that…our institution as a whole may lack the agility…needed to tackle and take on things like this when the moment is right. The conditions are there for that now,” said Benjamin.

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