DENVER — It's by no means a new way to get around town, but interest in electric bikes has certainly grown in the past few weeks in Denver thanks to the city and county's Climate Action Rebate program.
"I have a son who lives in Pittsburgh and he emailed me the link and said, 'By the way, do you know about this?' I had no idea," Joni Setchfield said.
She is one of more than 2,600 Denverites who have applied for the rebate. The program gives Denver residents an instant voucher worth either $400 or $1,200, depending on their income level, to buy a new e-bike.
Houshmand Moarefi, owner of E-Bikes USA, says his store in the Country Club neighborhood has gotten a real jolt in business since the Denver program went online on April 22.
"We're getting requests from people that were not traditionally looking at an electric bike," he said. "We are seeing a younger demographic, people that are living in the city that are not traditional electric bike riders."
Moarefi's store is one of nine others, at least for now, that has partnered with Denver as part of an effort to help residents save money on gas and maintenance and, subsequently, to help people like Setchfield ride more comfortably.
"I think my knees are getting a little bad. It's a little tougher getting up hills," she said.
She got her voucher about 10 days after applying for it, which the city says is the current turnaround time because of all the increased demand. Her voucher of $1,200 is helping her make careful choices.
"I think I can find the right fit, [and] I can find the right price," Setchfield said. "Anything additional? It's well worth it to me because I'm giving up [my regular bicycle] and starting a brand new bike and it's basically the same [price]."
According to a spokesperson with Denver's Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency, as of Monday, at least 30 vouchers had been redeemed.
Funding for the program comes from the Climate Protection Fund, which exists thanks to a voter-approved, quarter-of-a-percent increase in sales and use tax in 2020.