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Electric bike program serves older adults in Cortez

Four Corners Office for Resource Efficiency will provide electric bikes for older adults in Cortez this summer. (Courtesy photo)
4CORE awarded grants to provide 25 electric bikes for nominal fee; CDOT funds electric vehicle education for Ute Mountain Ute Tribe

This summer, 25 electric bikes will be distributed for a nominal fee to low-income individuals 55 and older in Cortez.

The Four Corners Office for Resource Efficiency was awarded a grant for about $75,000 from the Colorado Energy Office for the program.

Rad Power e-bikes will be purchased by 4CORE for $1,500 a piece, and offered to qualified applicants for $100, said 4CORE Executive Director Laurie Dickson.

To qualify, applicants must live in Cortez or be within 10 miles of the city, be 55 or older, and earn 80% of the area medium income or lower.

Recipients of the bikes will receive training and education on use of the bikes and are asked to record trip data using a smartphone. The e-bikes are the Class 2 style, which utilize a throttle to assist the rider up to 20 mph.

The application process will begin in the spring with instructions posted on the 4CORE website.

The grant funding was initiated by Senate Bill 22-193 passed last year by the state legislature to reduce carbon emissions and promote exercise.

“We are hoping to eliminate some of the single occupant vehicle travel, and reduce the number of vehicles on the road,” Dickson said.

The program targets older adults looking for a convenient transportation alternative to run errands, recreate or commute to work, she said. The electric assist technology reduces barriers that may turn off the elderly or disabled from considering biking over a car.

“It takes care of those hills that would be too much on a regular bike, “Dickson said. “It is a healthy mode of transportation for older adults to get out and exercise.”

Empire Electric chipped in $150 toward the cost of each bike, and Kokopelli Bike and Board will provide technical support. Letters of support were provided by the city of Cortez, Montezuma Senior Center and Montezuma County.

In 2021, 4CORE partnered with the Colorado Energy Office to launch the “Roll to Restaurants electric” bike pilot program in Durango. Fifteen bikes were provided for low-income restaurant workers as an affordable commute alternative.

4CORE saw an opportunity to broaden electric bike use in Montezuma County, said Elijah Senton, 4CORE clean energy and transportation program manager.

“Cortez is a good bike town with good paths. The goal is to bring more electric transportation to rural areas,” he said.

The Colorado Energy Office was authorized by Senate Bill 22-193 to provide financial assistance for pollution emission reduction projects in Colorado, which includes increasing electric bike availability. The energy office administers the Clean Air Program with a total funding amount not to exceed $25 million in a six-year program that sunsets June 30, 2028.

Education funded for Ute Mountain Ute Tribe

4CORE and CDOT also seek to support electric transportation awareness and infrastructure to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.

4CORE was awarded a $90,000 grant from CDOT to develop a strategic plan on how electric vehicles and e-bikes can help with transportation challenges in Towaoc.

Meetings beginning in June will be held to gather public input from community members, tribal council and Empire Electric Association. There will be classroom presentations and information about school electric bus grants.

The goal is to provide information on zero emission vehicles and infrastructure development such as charging stations. Opportunities for the tribe to adopt an electric vehicle fleet will be presented, and electric vehicle ride and drive events are planned.

Meeting times and events will be announced on the 4CORE website and through local media.

For more information visit the 4CORE website.