The state of Colorado is gearing up to expand on a program that gives free electric bikes to low-income residents. The first phase of the program gave the bikes to low-income essential workers like Shalon Bowens, a sexual health clinic employee in Aurora. The program’s goal is to reduce dependence on cars and provide another option for reliable transportation for essential workers during the pandemic. Sam Brasch reports on the program’s results and expansion.
The Can Do Colorado eBike Pilot will use a $560,000 grant from the Colorado Energy Office, the City of Denver, and the Regional Air Quality Council to award over 100 e-bikes complete with helmets, locks, and pumps to local residents. Interviews with program participants show that they are replacing car trips and enjoying the opportunity to use a bicycle to get around.
The program came about as a response to changes in transportation options and behavior brought on by the pandemic, says Will Toor, director of the Colorado Energy Office, in the article: “he saw bus routes being cut and essential workers avoiding public transportation.” Going forward, Toor thinks e-bikes could play a “much larger role” in getting Colorado residents out of cars and insists equity “is really important” in meeting Colorado’s climate goals. Colorado’s climate action plan “has received fierce criticism from environmental advocates, who complain the policy outline lacks specifics and didn’t include enough input from marginalized communities bearing the brunt of climate change.”