May 11, 2023 - News

Columbus to offer e-bike purchase discounts

Illustration of a bike wheel that becomes electrified.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Columbus is rolling out an incentive program to encourage residents to buy an electric bike.

Why it matters: E-bikes are seen as cheaper, greener alternatives to car travel and increased ridership can help Columbus reach its goal of reducing local emissions.

Pedaling the news: Columbus is investing $250,000 in rebates for e-bike purchases from local bicycle shops.

  • Rebates will be given out on a sliding scale for residents with annual household incomes of up to $150,000.
  • An online application process will open soon.

The big picture: E-bikes are growing in popularity, but the extra speed and convenience comes at a cost — even basic models can run north of $1,000.

  • Other cities like Denver and Austin have seen success with their own rebate programs.
  • Congress is also considering a federal tax credit that would cover up to 30% of an e-bike's cost, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick writes.

What we're hearing: Numerous local riders tell Axios Columbus they have embraced e-bikes for short errands and recreational trips, particularly during the warm weather months:

🏋️‍♂️ Chris Kimmet, an Upper Arlington financial planner, rides his Rad Runner e-bike around the neighborhood and to his gym in Grandview Heights.

  • He says there's no learning curve to using them: "just get on and ride."

🏒 Kyle Arnott, who spent years firing the goal cannon at Jackets games, rents e-bikes through the CoGo bike share program to reach the Arena District.

  • "You can feel yourself chewing through any inclines with ease," he says.

🚗 And Kelley Freeman says her family downsized to one car after she bought an e-bike to commute to and from work.

What they're saying: Riders want to see Columbus take additional steps toward becoming a bike-friendly city.

  • Trevin Flickinger, who says his e-bike has "saved [him] a lot on gas money," is among those pushing for more protected bicycle lanes.
  • "If we don't have the necessary, safe bike infrastructure across the city for folks, then the program is going to be a lot less effective than it can be."

Be smart: If you're looking to test ride an e-bike, Columbus is currently offering free one-year CoGo bike share memberships with use of a sign-up promo code.

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