In an effort to help safely reopen the post-pandemic economy and promote a sustainable future, the Polis administration launched Can Do Colorado, an initiative that included nearly $700,000 in eBike grants to be provided to low-income essential workers. The Spring 2021 eBike Pilot Program was developed to expand electric bike access in communities across the state while supporting air quality benefits. Community Cycles received one of five grants that allowed them to award 50 electric bikes to front-line employees at the University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder Community Health and two Boulder County Affordable Housing sites.

Out of 90 applicants, Community Cycles selected 50 individuals to receive eBikes, 15 of which went to CU employees. Bike recipients paid $250 to get into the program and received an eBike (valued at over $1500) and all the accessories needed to keep themselves safe and their bikes secure. The CU Bike Program also helped these employees register their bikes with CU through Bike Index, get access to secure on-campus bike shelters and provide “best route” advice depending on where they live and work.

university of Colorado employees receive free electric bikes On Wednesday, some of these participants attended an orientation session to pick up their bikes and ask questions of bicycle commuter experts from Boulder Transportation Connections and Community Cycles. Boulder Community Health also attended to provide and instruct participants on helmet use.

Robin Poley, an Environmental Center staff member, was thrilled to be chosen as one of the 15 CU eBike recipients. Car-free since he was 18, Poley has relied heavily on the bus in the past because his twelve-mile one-way commute on a standard bike triggers his asthma. Now that he has a bike with pedal assist, he is excited to ride to and from work without worry.

Over the past year, Poley has continued to work full-time in the recycling center, but one of his main responsibilities outside of the pandemic involves the management of large-scale campus events: “Now that we’re going back to campus and there will be football games, I’ll come to campus on a Friday afternoon and work through the night until early Saturday morning.” Poley says that if he didn’t have an eBike to ride home, he would have to wait for hours until the first bus of the day.

The only stipulations of the program are that participants commit to replacing single-occupancy vehicle trips with eBike commutes at least three days a week, and they must use an app developed by the National Renewable Energy Lab that tracks their commutes. The app tracks individuals’ locations to calculate the energy savings and carbon impact of biking compared to driving in order to quantify the beneficial pollution-reducing impact of the program.

Howard Treppeda, who commutes eleven miles one-way to his job in dining services, also received an eBike. “I believe that climate change starts with breakfast. I love the fact that I don’t have to turn a key to start my morning.”

Community Cycles and partners including the Colorado Energy Office and CU Boulder, hope this initiative will encourage local residents to try a healthier way of commuting in an effort to reduce the community’s carbon footprint. “It’s really cool that Community Cycles partnered with CU. They came together to benefit the people who have been working for them, especially over the past year throughout COVID,” said Poley. “E-biking is so feasible for people as a low-carbon way to get to work and go out. I’m proud to support the cause.”