Everything Denver Residents Need to Know About 2024 E-Bike Rebates | Westword

Everything to Know About Denver’s 2024 E-Bike Rebates

The popular voucher program runs out of stipends within minutes.
The Denver Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency introduced its e-bike rebate program in April 2022.
The Denver Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency introduced its e-bike rebate program in April 2022. CASR
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Screw Eras Tour tickets. E-bike vouchers may be the most in-demand item in Denver.

Denver’s e-bike rebate program has already added nearly 8,000 electric bikes to city streets since its inception in 2022, thanks to vouchers ranging from $300 all the way to $1,400. All available vouchers have been snapped up within minutes of their release every two months, with the first round of 2024 e-bike rebates dropping February 27 at 11 a.m.

“I would not be surprised if, as in most releases, the vouchers we release Tuesday will be gone in a matter of minutes,” says Mike Salisbury, transportation lead in the Denver Office of Climate Action, Sustainability & Resiliency (CASR).

Salisbury was proved right: all e-bike rebates were claimed within eight minutes on Tuesday, February 27. E-bike enthusiasts will have four more chances this year to try to snap their city rebate.

Sam McCrory, advocacy programs manager for Denver Streets Partnership, says electric bikes make cycling more accessible to older adults or those recovering from injuries because the electric assist takes some of the effort out of the rider’s hands or feet. And they’re especially useful in the Mile High City, where sloping streets can feel like mountains.

“Denver is surprisingly hilly, and e-bikes are great for folks,” McCrory says. “It's getting that person who may not have a ton of experience on a bike and making them feel more comfortable. That pedal assist, that throttle assist, can really help them make that commute a lot easier.”

He adds that the Denver Streets Partnership, an organization that works toward making Denver’s streets more equitable and less car-centric, often sees that getting an e-bike empowers people to replace their car commute to work or the grocery store with one that costs less in both dollars and environment impact.

“People want to use the rebate because it gives them better access to e-bikes,” McCrory says. “Typically, bikes are a little bit more expensive on average than a normal, acoustic bike, so the rebate really helps with that barrier to entry.”

Everything You Need to Know About Denver’s 2024 E-Bike Rebates

CASR will release a new set of vouchers every other month at 11 a.m. on the last Tuesday of the month. Future e-bike voucher release dates include April 30, June 25, August 27 and October 29.

Those wishing to secure their voucher must log in to the Denver climate rebate portal at 11 a.m. on voucher release day. Applicants are required to provide proof of residency and proof of income if they wish to access one of the income-qualified rebates. Those who get lucky will get an email from CASR with a rebate redemption code.

From there, they have ninety days (up from sixty days in 2022 and 2023) to head to a participating bike shop and cash in. Local shops can help customers figure out which bike is right for them, and the rebate is applied immediately, acting as a discount on the purchase.

“We've definitely heard from residents that they would appreciate having a little more time to make the decisions and kind of figure out what works best for them,” Salisbury adds.

Those who received vouchers in previous releases and didn’t use them within sixty days days are not allowed to apply again this year, but CASR invites those who had extenuating circumstances to reach out to [email protected] to see if they qualify for a reissue or extension.
click to enlarge A bicyclist riding by the Windsor Condos at 1777 Larimer Street.
Biking instead of driving helps the city reach greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.
Hannah Metzger

What Else Is New for E-Bikes in 2024?

Another big change to the program this year is the addition of a moderate-income qualified rebate. Previously, there were two rebate categories: one for low-income individuals and a standard rebate. Now there are three tiers.

Those whose household income is below 60 percent of Colorado or Denver median income or below 200 percent of the relevant federal poverty line qualify for the low-income rebate. This rebate comes with $1,200 for an e-bike or $1,400 for an e-cargo bike, which is designed to accommodate larger loads like children or Costco purchases.

Of all the e-bike rebates issued through the program so far, 44.6 percent have gone to those in the low-income category.

For the moderate-income qualified rebate, people must make below 100 percent of Colorado’s median income, below 200 percent of the relevant federal poverty line or between 60 and 100 percent of Denver’s median income. Those rebates come out to $700 for an e-bike or $900 on an e-cargo bike.

“There were people who were certainly not rich and definitely could have used a little more support, a little more help, to get onto an e-bike, so we wanted to create that extra incentive level for that population,” Salisbury says.

Everyone else can get the standard rebate of $300 for an e-bike or $500 for an e-cargo bike. Those with disabilities who can’t use a standard e-bike can access a $1,400 rebate on an adaptive e-bike. Disabled riders can apply anytime rather than waiting for a drop.

To make the process on drop days easier, CASR added the ability for people to create their profiles in the portal before the release, to eliminate issues with verifying their emails on the day of. However, all documents must still be uploaded on release days.

Lastly, the city added a requirement that bike shops can only redeem vouchers for e-bikes certified to the UL 2849 or 2271 safety standard for e-bike batteries. Salisbury says the battery restriction is meant to give people peace of mind that their bikes are safe and won’t catch fire mid-ride, which was happening with certain e-bikes in New York City.

According to Salisbury, the idea came from local bike shops. The office has been working with participating Denver bike shops to recognize which models are UL-certified for safety, and Salisbury tells customers not to stress out about the change.

If CASR finds that a rebate was applied to a non-certified bike, it will notify the retailer to be sure it doesn’t happen again.

“It wouldn't be a situation where we would try to claw back the voucher from a resident,” Salisbury says.

What's the Impact of Denver's E-Bike Program?

The city has spent $7,537,500.00 on the e-bike program so far, with around $2.1 million for vouchers this year, according to Salisbury. It is funded through Denver's Climate Protection Fund, which was approved by voters in 2020 and filled by a 0.25 percent sales tax. On top of funding CASR, the Climate Protection Fund is earmarked for programs related to energy-efficient buildings and homes, adaptation and resilience, environmental justice, renewable energy, workforce development and sustainable transportation.

Because the e-bike program is paid for by the Climate Protection Fund, its budget can’t be re-allocated for needs outside of CASR as Mayor Mike Johnston looks for cuts across city departments to help the financial load of Denver's current migrant population.

CASR says that a full year's usage of e-bikes purchased with rebates will displace over 3,300 tons of greenhouse gas emissions while eliminating nearly 170,000 miles of vehicle travel weekly, helping Denver reach greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

“An e-bike has about 1 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions of a gasoline vehicle, so anytime we can get someone on an e-bike and riding an e-bike, they're making a very significant impact from a transportation emissions perspective,” Salisbury adds.

If you’re nervous about making the transition to an e-bike, Denver Streets Partnership and Bicycle Colorado teach a free E-bike 101 class every Wednesday from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. to help people learn e-bike basics, build riding confidence and decide what type of bike works for them.

McCrory says people are often surprised by how quickly they gain speed or the kickback from the pedal or throttle assist, as well as the new braking timing. E-bikes are heavier than traditional bikes, but riders usually adapt quickly and begin to enjoy themselves, he adds.

“It's kind of addicting,” McCroy says. “You get used to this much easier mode of travel. It makes going on those one-to-five-mile trips — and potentially even longer trips — a lot more accessible."
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