Pueblo County launches e-bike program for essential workers

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Pueblo County will equip low-income essential workers with electric bicycles as part of a new program to provide reliable transportation options and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Colorado Energy Office has awarded the county $135,000 through its Can Do eBike pilot program, enough to purchase 42 e-bikes that range in price from $2,100 for a Class 1 model to $1,600 for a mountain bike. class 2.

This grant requires no county matching funds.

The idea is for the bikes to act as a reliable and consistent form of transportation for workers who may not be able to afford a car or cannot rely on city public transportation.

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Just under 5,000 households in Pueblo County lack access to a car, according to 2019 data from the US Census Bureau.

“For low-income people, they would rather put their money on their table for their food than buy an e-bike. This program is very helpful for these workers,” said Pueblo County Energy Coordinator Ron Go-Aco.

Go-Aco said it hopes to roll out the e-bikes no later than August this year.

E-bikes have a built-in motor that helps riders accelerate and propel. Those the county buys are chargeable through a regular household electrical outlet.

Pueblo was recently named a Bronze Level Cycling Friendly Community by the League of American Cyclists.

The county is accepting applications from recipients of the bikes. Applicants must live within the Pueblo West or Pueblo city limits, provide proof of employment, and earn $25,000 or less per year. The county may expand the income limit to $35,000, depending on the applicant pool.

Essential workers, as defined by the state, will be prioritized. This includes, but is not limited to, restaurant workers, teachers, childcare workers, construction workers, and maintenance staff.

While e-bikes will hopefully fill a need for transportation, they will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality in cities. Pueblo is committed to reducing these emissions by 100% by 2035.

“The Pueblos usually use cars or take the bus. When you ride an e-bike, you don’t use typical fuels or diesel. You don’t emit greenhouse gases by using a combustion engine,” Go-Aco said.

Recipients will be required to download a smartphone app that will collect data over two years to measure the program’s effectiveness in reducing emissions.

The county is still drafting usage guidelines for bicycles, such as acceptable riding areas.

Those interested in applying to receive an electric bike can access the online form.

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Chief Reporter Sara Wilson can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @WilsonSaraJane.

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