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$12 Million for eBikes: A Transformational Investment

The following testimony was delivered in front of the Colorado Senate Transportation and Energy Committee on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. It was delivered in favor of the Air Quality Improvement Investments bill by Bicycle Colorado’s Director of Communications and Policy, Jack Todd. 

Good afternoon Madam Chair and members of the committee. My name is Jack Todd and I’m here today on behalf of Bicycle Colorado and the millions of people who ride a bike each year in our state. 

I’m here to speak in favor of SB 193 and ask for your support of the legislation. In particular, I’m here to speak to the transformational investment of $12 million to support eBike access for low- and moderate-income Coloradans. 

I had the privilege of working alongside the Colorado Energy Office in the Fall of 2020 to develop and implement the first iteration of the Can Do Colorado eBike Program, in which 13 low-income Coloradans were given an eBike to replace car trips. While I expected success from the program, what we saw from our participants far exceeded my expectations. 

Data collected by the National Renewable Energy Lab as part of the program indicated that in just three months our 13 participants saved nearly 1,400 lbs of CO2 emissions by riding their bikes, the equivalent of about .75 acres of trees being planted. Their eBikes were used on 35% of their trips, and were primarily used for end-to-end travel replacing single occupancy vehicle trips. 

These numbers over a small sample period point to a potentially huge impact for the $12 million investment in eBike funding included in SB 193. 

Household motor vehicle trips are one of the biggest drivers of transportation emissions in the country, and Colorado is no exception to that. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in 2017 nearly 60% of household motor vehicle trips were just 6 miles or less and 75% were 10 miles or less. 

Meanwhile, research from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities shows that people are purchasing eBikes to replace car trips and bike with cargo, bike greater distances, bike at an older age or with mobility issues, and to commute to places without worrying about appearing disheveled at their destination. EBikes cost just $0.08 to charge, and batteries can travel 65 or more miles on a single charge.

In other words, eBikes give people freedom of mobility while reducing their carbon footprint. 

All of this proved true in the Can Do Colorado eBike pilot in 2020.

  • One participant shared with a third party data analyst “Since I got the eBike and joined this program, I’m no longer using a car .. I only want to take a ride or walk on foot. It’s changed me a lot.”
  • Another shared “I ride the bike all the way to work now. I ride the bike all the way home … It’s better, I get home faster. I used to take almost two hours to get home, it takes me 35 minutes now.”
  • A third shared with me recently that she’s lost 70 pounds since receiving her eBike.

These are real people with real stories, and SB 193 can open up these same opportunities to reduce vehicle usage to a much greater segment of Colorado’s population. Please vote yes on this important legislation, which will improve the lives of individual Coloradans and Colorado’s air quality on the whole.

Thank you, and I’m happy to answer any questions. 

Jack Todd

About the Author: Jack Todd

Born and raised in Denver, Jack grew up riding his bike in the Queen City, and has been addicted to life on two wheels ever since. Jack has lived in Seattle and Copenhagen, Denmark, where he experienced first-hand what a difference extensive people-oriented infrastructure can make! As Director of Communications and Policy, Jack works every day to connect Bicycle Colorado staff, advocates around the state, and local and state decision makers to advance bicycling in Colorado.

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The Broadmoor Cycle to the Summit by @TheSportsCorp is a breathtaking bicycle race up Pikes Peak. Sanctioned by USA… https://t.co/9j4G7JxXzy

"Rebates and other incentives can help, but even making e-bikes free wouldn’t be enough to get people to ride them… https://t.co/1hoZXQmOfL

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  • DON’T DELAY: We’re placing another order for #BicycleColorado masks made by our friends at @primalwear TOMORROW (5/14) at noon! Click the link in our bio to get yours now!
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We’re thrilled to see so many people out enjoying (and often rediscovering the joy of) riding a bike right now, and we’re asking ALL bicyclists to do their part to prevent the spread of #covid19 by wearing a mask or other face covering when out for a ride. Doing so keeps you, your loved ones, those around you, and all Coloradans safer while helping reduce stress on our medical system. If you still need a mask, click the link in our bio to pre-order one now and support our advocacy work! Thanks so much to everyone who has already purchased, and to @primalwear for supporting our efforts over the years. Ride on.
  • #BicycleColorado volunteers and staff members spent time today helping @denverurbangardens and @denverfoodrescue deliver “Grow a Garden” food boxes to home-bound families in Denver—via bike! Supporting our community on two wheels makes for a great way to spend a sunny day. Many thanks to our friends @ddchen47, David M., and @juggernautcargo for your help! Head to denverfoodrescue.org or dug.org to learn more about these great local organizations. #rideyourbike
  • Tonight the #BicycleColorado team celebrated Stacey, our outgoing Development Director, with a virtual happy hour. Stacey has been an absolute rockstar for BC. We’re sad to see her leave, but thrilled for her as she heads out on a new adventure (hopefully in the #BikeAdvocacy space!) in North Carolina. Please join us in wishing her well!