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Denver's e-bike rebate program draws so much interest, users overwhelm system

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Posted at 5:59 PM, Jul 11, 2022

DENVER — The application system for Denver’s e-bike rebate program had so many people log onto it Monday that the system was overwhelmed shortly after opening.

The city offered 2,000 e-bike rebates Monday, half of which are dedicated to low-income riders. The vouchers will be for between $400 and $1,200.

In a statement, the city said many users got stuck in the email verification process that can only send out a limited number of verifications every half hour. Some people waited up for two hours for a verification code. They then requested another code and unknowingly had to wait another hour.

“We apologize for this frustration, and we will honor the application of any user who attempted to verify their email but were unable to do so,” the statement read. “Our rebate administrator will be reaching out to those users to complete the application process.”

The city is planning to open up more rebate slots in the coming months.

  • August 1
  • September 6
  • October 3
  • November 7
  • December 5.

At FattEBikes in Denver, Kenny Fischer says bike orders have been rolling in more frequently over the past couple of years and the demographics of people ordering them are changing.

Where it was older riders mainly ordering the bikes before, these days it’s commuters and younger families investing in the change.

“These can take the place of your car. Going uphill is effortless; going long distances is effortless. You don't sweat so you can show up to work nice and fresh. So, people are starting to understand the benefits and the capabilities,” Fischer said.

FattEBikes approached the city with the idea of a rebate program and says it has taken off. Fischer would like to see even more biking infrastructure for people so they can feel safe switching away from a car.

This year, Colorado legislators also passed a new law to create a statewide e-bike rebate program.

Lawmakers allocated $12 million for the program. Most of the money will go to rebates while some will be dedicated to continuing an e-bike pilot program.

That program provided more than 160 bikes and equipment to participants who log their trips. The state estimates that last month, the pilot program prevented the emission of 2,000 pounds of greenhouse gas.

Senior program coordinator for the Colorado Transportation Fuels and Technology Program Sarah Thorne says she is watching Denver’s rebate program closely to see what works and what doesn’t.

One lesson she has already learned from Denver: she wants to make sure the rebate can offset a considerable amount of the cost of the bike since e-bikes are expensive.

“We want to make sure that the amount is substantial enough. So, it might be a little less than we had originally anticipated. We were hoping 12,000 e-bikes,” she said.

Thorne is responsible for starting the statewide program and says they are still very much in the planning stages.

“The legislation mandates it’s for low and moderate-income Coloradans, so we're just kind of looking at what the program guidance is going to look like,” Thorne said.

Since the program was announced, she says she gets regular calls and emails from people wanting to take part in it, so she knows the community interest is there. She’s hoping to have the rebates start going out in January.