Oct 26, 2022 - News

How Denver's e-bike rebate program could get more money

Illustration of a rear bike wheel with lightning bolts for spokes.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Denver's popular electric bike rebate program will be back next year if the city's climate office gets more money for it.

Driving the news: The office, which oversees the e-bike and other sustainability initiatives, announced late Monday the program exhausted its 2022 rebate money.

  • The rebate program offered $1,200 for income-qualified residents and $400 for everyone else.
  • The city issued 4,401 rebates this year, according to spokesperson Winna MacLaren

Why it matters: Running out of money during its first year shows Denverites are eager to buy electric bikes, a cleaner mobility option that can lead to fewer cars—and less emissions—on the city's roads.

  • The program's popularity caught the city by surprise; it started with a $250,000 budget for e-bikes this year.

By the numbers: MacLaren tells Axios Denver the office will seek $3 million each year for 2023 and 2024 for e-bike rebate vouchers.

  • "With that amount of funding we are anticipating roughly 3,000 more e-bikes to be purchased in 2023 using the voucher," MacLaren said in a statement.
  • MacLaren said that request is not part of the current city budget proposal, since the money paying for the rebates comes from a dedicated climate action sales tax.
  • The money will be requested through a contract amendment with Aptim, which the city pays to issue the rebates to the public.
  • The three-year, $9 million contract was approved by Denver City Council in March. At least 8% of the money pays for the program's management, according to city documents.

What they're saying: "Denver’s success with their e-bike rebate program offers a great national model for how to help shift trips in cities to address air quality and climate issues, and solve for people’s transportation needs," Piep van Heuven of Bicycle Colorado told the Colorado Sun.

Between the lines: The city's equity goal didn't quite meet expectations initially, though nearly half of the rebates (2,185) ended up going to low-income residents, according to the climate office.

The big picture: The entire rebate program, which also helped offset costs for things like more energy-efficient heating and cooling units, started with the $9 million contract with Aptim.

  • Rebates for heat pumps and electric vehicle charging stations are closed as well.
  • Rebates for solar panels, electrical panel upgrades and income-qualified rebates for heat pumps are still available.

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