Jul 10, 2023 - News

Columbus rolls out e-bike incentive program

Rows of bicycles in a shop.

E-bikes and traditional models on sale at Franklinton Cycle Works, where city leaders announced details of a new e-bike incentive program on Thursday. Photo: Tyler Buchanan/Axios

It will take intentional choices to move Columbus away from being a "car-centric city," City Council member Lourdes Barroso de Padilla says, but a new e-bike incentive program's roll out is one more step ā€” or pedal ā€” in the right direction.

Why it matters: The heavy focus on improving bicycle travel this summer furthers city goals of boosting residents' health, reducing traffic congestion and lowering carbon emissions.

Riding the news: Starting today, eligible residents can apply online to receive $500-1,200 in city funding toward purchasing e-bikes at Beechwold Bicycles, Franklinton Cycle Works, Johnny Velo Bikes, Orbit City Bikes or Paradise Garage.

  • Columbus is investing $250,000 into the pilot program, the first of its kind in Ohio.

How it works: Up to 150 people at least 18 years old with a household income under $150,000 will be selected. Funding will be offered on a sliding scale.

  • All recipients will receive an additional $200 credit toward safety gear and a complimentary bike tune-up.

What they're saying: Council President Shannon Hardin tells Axios the program is modeled off a similar, popular effort in Denver, which helped thousands of residents purchase e-bikes last year.

  • That's a wishful goal for Columbus, Hardin says, noting plans to scale up Columbus' program in future years.

Between the lines: E-bikes at Franklinton Cycle Works retail between $1,100-1,800 and are increasingly popular among riders, shop co-founder Johnathan Youngman tells us.

  • E-bikes are also friendlier for those with mobility issues, Hardin and de Padilla say.

The big picture: The program's launch comes as Council plans to invest millions toward improved bike infrastructure in the upcoming capital budget, Hardin says.

Reality check: Bike and public transit funding is still a fraction of what is being spent to support car travel.

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