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Boulder is considering an e-bike rebate program similar to the successful program launched in Denver earlier this year.

The program, which will be briefly discussed in Tuesday’s Boulder City Council meeting, would provide some sort of incentive for people purchasing e-bikes, though specific details have yet to be hashed out.

For example, in a program that temporarily maxed out capacity in three weeks, Denver offered a $400 rebate for all Denver residents and up to $1,200 for those who fell within certain incomes. The incentive could not exceed the total purchase price and the city limited it to one e-bike per person, which had to be purchased at one of nearly 20 participating bicycle shops.

Further, Denver offered an additional $500 for e-cargo bikes, which are larger, gear-hauling bikes with a motor that can be used to carry children, groceries or anything else.

Boulder City Council members will be asked whether they’d like to give a nod of five — an informal majority show of support — to change the transportation and mobility department’s work plan to incorporate a similar pilot program in 2022.

But regardless of whether the proposal receives majority support, Boulder is likely to offer e-bike incentives soon.

Even if the Council opts against advancing a pilot program this year, Boulder’s transportation staff have been in the initial stages of research for a similar program that would begin in 2023.

According to Interim Director of Transportation and Mobility Natalie Stiffler, this timing could work better, because that’s when Colorado intends to launch a statewide e-bike rebate program, for which it’s allocated $12 million. It would also give the city extra time to research who the program should serve and how Boulder would measure success ahead of an official launch.

For Stiffler, a pilot program offers an opportunity to test a few questions: Will getting more e-bikes into more people’s hands shift their mode of transportation? Will people who obtain an e-bike through a potential program use it primarily for recreation? Or might they eliminate single occupancy vehicle trips and instead ride their bike?

“To me, that’s kind of the point of a pilot — to test that and be able to track how people are using it and whether or not it’s making a difference from that perspective,” she said.

It’s possible Community Cycles, a nonprofit cycling advocacy organization and bike shop in Boulder, could play a role.

Stiffler said the organization brought forth a proposal using what it learned when it coordinated something similar: a smaller-scale e-bike program for low-income essential workers in the area.

Generally, the industry’s thinking is that more e-bikes means people are traveling fewer miles in vehicles and thereby producing fewer greenhouse gas emissions, Stiffler noted.

And that was the thought behind bringing e-bike incentives to Boulder when the idea was discussed in the June 13 Transportation Advisory Board meeting.

“Putting more e-bikes into the homes of more people in Boulder could be a great way to increase mode shifting for us,” board member Ryan Schuchard said in the meeting.

It also could be a fun way to build on Boulder’s bike culture and community, he added.

The rest of the board generally agreed.

While the board cannot implement a policy on its own, the board members said they’d support further exploration of the idea so long as the City Council or the transportation department agrees to move ahead.

“This is a no-brainer suggestion in my opinion,” member Triny Willerton said.

“Anything we could do to get more e-bikes on our roads … I think that would be a game changer for a lot of people,” she added.


If you watch

What: Boulder City Council meeting

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Council and city staff members will participate from remote locations. Residents can watch the meeting on Boulder’s YouTube channel or on Channel 8.

Agenda: bit.ly/34geMhj

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