Denver Government

Reopening of Denver E-Bike Rebate Program Turns Into Sh*tshow

E-bikes are super popular in Denver thanks to a rebate program.
E-bikes are super popular in Denver thanks to a rebate program. CASR
July 11 was supposed to be a special day in Denver, when residents could again apply for a City of Denver e-bike rebate. The first round of the program had been such a success that the application process had gone on hiatus for two months; it reopened on July 11, with up to 2,000 rebates available.

But technological problems that began right around the program's 8 a.m. reopening created an incredible shitshow for people trying to apply online for the rebates, a headache that not even a free Slurpee from 7-Eleven could soothe.

"I started at eight. I entered my email and waited for the confirmation code. And waited. When I got the email and clicked on the link, the code was invalid. I repeated this process all morning with the same results. I never got past the email verification," says Leland Baker, a 59-year-old who lives in southwest Denver.

Many other would-be applicants experienced the same scenario, which the Denver Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency attributes to a technological malfunction.

"Due to a high volume of interest...many users were stuck in the email verification process. Our rebate administrator's system limited the number of email verifications that could be sent every thirty minutes. This left people unknowingly waiting up to two hours for a verification code. Users then requested a new one that invalidated the old verification code, and had to unknowingly wait another hour or so for another code," says Winna MacLaren, manager of communication and engagement for CASR, which launched the program on Earth Day. It's budgeted at $3 million a year, and in the first few weeks, over 3,250 people applied for rebates. When under a thousand of them bought their bikes and used the rebates, though, the city had enough funds to restart the program.

CASR apologizes for the "frustration" many people felt while applying on July 11, and says it will honor the application of any user who attempted to verify their email but was unable to do so.

"Our rebate administrator will be reaching out to those users to complete the application process. If you have any outstanding questions or concerns, please contact [email protected]," MacLaren says.

Rebate applications take about ten business days to process; once approved, applicants will have sixty days to redeem their vouchers.

The city has now closed applications for the $400 regular e-bike rebates and $900 cargo e-bike rebates. But CASR is still accepting applications for income-qualified applicants, who can access $1,200 e-bike rebates and $1,700 cargo e-bike rebates. Over half of this round's vouchers were reserved for this group.

Someone can qualify for a lower-income rebate if they're enrolled in some type of welfare assistance or have a household income below 80 percent of the area median income ($62,600 for a one-person household and $71,550 for a two-person household).

Aside from e-bikes, CASR is also providing rebates for heat pumps, electric vehicle-charging stations and other energy-saving equipment for Denver homes. The entire program is budgeted at $9 million over three years.

For those who miss out this time, there will be additional rebate releases on August 1, September 6, October 3, November 7 and December 5.

"We are thankful to Denverites for their continued enthusiasm to switch to healthier and cleaner commutes," MacLaren concludes.
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.