After carefully adjusting her helmet, Carolina Lasater lowered herself down onto her bike and cruised around the dim parking garage on her new black and white bike.
She pedaled effortlessly around the garage, but knew if she needed it, there was a throttle on the handlebars she could press to give her an electric-powered push.
Community Cycles on Wednesday deployed 50 electric bicycles to area low-income essential workers.
The organization received a $123,000 grant from the Colorado Energy Office to purchase bicycles for essential workers in hopes of getting more people out of their cars and outside, said Sandee Cirian, program manager with Community Cycles.
“We specifically targeted people who worked in Boulder Community Health but really the program was open to anybody in Boulder County,” she said. “I am so excited to get to this point because we’ve been putting everything into place for the last month or so. I am very excited to help our residents of Boulder County.”
Cirian said Community Cycles received 90 applications from low-income essential workers hoping to get a bike but could only choose 50 people for the program.
Lasater, one of the 50 people selected, said she does not own a car and either rides a bike or takes the bus to her job at McGuckin Hardware.
“I do like it because I sometimes show up to work sweating and go home after a long day of work and kind of feel tired,” she said. “I just feel like it’s a cool program, so I’m excited.”
Joan DePuy, a registered nurse with Boulder Community Health, who helped supply the helmets, assisted Lasater to make sure her helmet fit properly.
DePuy said the hospital recently installed a new e-bike station where employees at the hospital can also charge their electric bikes while they are at work.
“We’re happy to partner in this is to provide support for our employees,” she said. “We’re providing a safe and healthy alternative to driving a car.”
Sherri O’Hara helped Lasater and other essential workers find their bikes and adjust their seats. O’Hara with Small Planet eBikes, which supplied the bikes, said each bike was outfitted to have tail lights and other accessories to ensure they were safe.
“This is really set up for everyday use as a car alternative or for maybe for people who don’t have a car or they just want to diversify their transportation and get around easily in town,” she said.
O’Hara said the bike has a “pedal assist” function that activates the motor as well as a throttle that can be used to give people a boost when they are riding up a steep grade.
“Most of the time, people are using the pedal assist mode because that way you’ll get the most efficiency out of the battery and so forth,” she said.
Cheryl Harvanek who works in the billing department at Boulder Community Health said she is excited for the change her new e-bike will bring to her everyday routine.
“It’s exciting to start something a little different,” she said.
Sarah Warner, a grant writer who helped apply for the e-bike funding, said with gas prices going up, this program will not only save people money but help the environment.
“The cars that generally are owned by lower income demographics are higher polluting and by taking those off the road, we’re also doubling the impact — saving them money and reducing air pollution,” she said.
Jennifer Shriver, development director at Community Cycles, said she was thankful for all of the local partners, which include University of Colorado, Boulder Community Health, Boulder County Housing and Human Services, Boulder County Office of Sustainability, Climate Action & Resilience, Small Planet eBikes and Boulder, which helped make the initiative possible.
“We’ve had 100 years of an automobile dominated transportation system,” she said. “We want to make the switch, and we want to make sure that our low-income essential workers are at the center of opportunity to have one of those electric cargo bikes that makes it possible.”