DENVER — The City and County of Denver’s wildly popular e-bike rebate program is putting on the brakes.
Citing “overwhelming popularity,” the Denver Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency announced Monday, Oct. 24 that the city will pause applications for the electric bicycles, or e-bikes, until early 2023. The city was scheduled to take more applications on Monday, Nov. 7 and Monday, Dec. 5, but those dates will be postponed.
“This decision came after the city exhausted three years’ worth of funding in six short months,” the city said in a e-mail to residents who had subscribed to updates on the green energy rebate program. “During the pause, we will be working on adding additional funding to meet the overwhelming demand. We will also be making changes to the program to make participation easier and increase access.”
Funding for the program had come from a voter-approved sales tax that was estimated to produce $40 million per year to fund climate initiatives. Other incentives were available for green technologies like heat pumps, solar panels and electric vehicle chargers. But the e-bike rebates, which started at $400 and went up to $1,700 for income-qualified residents were by far the most popular part of the program, likely because it was the only rebate option that didn’t necessitate being a homeowner.
The lack of funding is not a total surprise. In fact, the rebates were so popular that in May of 2022 — less than one month after the program started — the city had to switch to a limited-release model in which they would only issue a finite amount of vouchers once a month. The demand on those release days was so high that the city’s website would often crash and all the vouchers would be claimed in a “matter of minutes.”
“We’re honored to be a part of transforming the way Denver wants to move around … and we’re eager to bring back an expanded program that will serve more Denverites,” said Grace Rink, Denver’s chief climate officer, in a press release.
According to a series of tweets from the Office of Climate Action, 4,401 e-bikes are on now on Denver streets because of the program. Half of the bikes went to income-qualified residents.
People who have a voucher for an e-bike rebate but have not used it must use it within 60 days of obtaining the voucher. A list of participating bike shops is available here. To sign up for email updates on the e-bike rebate program, click here.
Kyle Cooke is the digital media manager at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach him at email@example.com.