Denver’s West Corridor TMA Plans Rollout of eBike Library to Low-Income Communities
Sales of eBikes in the USA have risen significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, with some estimates showing 600,000 eBikes sold in 2020 (compared to 270,000 in 2019). That figure is only slated to increase in 2021 as the popularity and efficiency of eBikes grow, all the while they become more affordable. Indeed, if the eBike Act is passed through Congress, it will give the industry a shot in the arm by providing a 30% tax credit incentive for new eBike purchases.
Even though the price of eBikes is decreasing, they are still out of reach for many lower income communities. To make eBikes more accessible to these communities, West Corridor TMA, in collaboration with UrbanTrans, successfully submitted a grant application to develop free eBike libraries across several affordable housing units in Denver.
The goal of the new eBike library program is to provide improved mobility options to lower income communities by helping them access this new mode of transportation. A few additional organizations formed a team with West Corridor TMA and UrbanTrans to support the program:
- FattE-Bikes is a local eBike shop in Denver that manufactures high-quality, robust eBikes.
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) supports the development of the eBike library app to ensure smooth check in/check out.
- People for Bikes supports the program by providing marketing support.
- Denver Housing Authority manages the affordable housing properties where the eBike libraries will be housed.
With over 40 bikes distributed across 9 small libraries (containing 3-5 eBikes each), the pilot program focuses on providing mobility to those with greatest need. Residents of the affordable housing units will be able to check out eBikes from the libraries, which will be housed in a secure location within their building.
Furthermore, the program hopes to eliminate some common barriers to active transportation by providing training resources and test rides with the help of Bicycle Colorado. Each eBike will also by equipped with its own set of locks, lights, bags and a helmet. Once the program is up and running, the plan is to expand it to other affordable housing units across the Denver region.
There are several primary outcomes this program aims to achieve:
- Provide a free mobility option to those that need it most and monitor the impacts.
- Showcase the power of eBikes to improve access to employment and services.
- Develop an affordable eBike library system that can be expanded to other locations.
Ultimately, the hope is that this program will positively impact individual lives by providing them with new mobility options.