Jul 10, 2023 - News

Denver's e-bike rebates are benefiting out-of-state companies over local shops

Campus Cycles owner Mark Velat, left, talks with a customer about e-bikes at his shop. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

More than half of Denver's taxpayer-funded e-bike rebate dollars went to an out-of-state company and not local bike shops.

Why it matters: Denver's program β€” a national model being replicated in other communities and by the state β€” is not delivering the benefits organizers promised for local small businesses.

  • As we've reported, the e-bikes also are going mostly to those who can afford them, and not low-income residents.

Driving the news: More than 30 retailers in the Denver metro are eligible to accept e-bike rebates through the city's program, but Seattle online retailer Rad Power Bikes is by far the most popular, despite repeated safety concerns including recalls and lawsuits.

By the numbers: Rad Power, which opened a pop-up shop in Denver ahead of the rebate program's debut, received half of the $5.6 million in vouchers the city has issued since the program began, an analysis by Colorado Public Radio found.

  • The next largest is eBikes USA, an online retailer with a location in Denver, which received $506,492, according to data from the city's office of climate action, which administers the program.

What's happening: Rad Power is dominating in part because of its price point, a company spokesperson said. All its bikes are less than $2,500, which makes the typical $300 or $500 city rebate more helpful.

What they're saying: The bikes at Hardt Family Cyclery in Aurora are higher-end models that are more expensive. Owner MacKenzie Hardt, who consulted on the rules, said the city should have excluded direct-to-consumer retailers, such as Rad Power.

  • β€œWe obviously got a chunk of the money from the rebates, but we didn't get nearly enough. The city took a large portion of the rebates away from locally owned businesses,” Hardt told CPR.

The other side: A spokesperson for the city's climate office did not return messages seeking comment.

Go deeper: 5 tips on how to pick the right e-bike with your rebate


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