Avon reports steady use of electric bike programs
Shift Bike share program and e-bike purchase incentive programs get more Avon residents on bikes in first year
The town of Avon launched two new electric bike programs last year to encourage sustainable transportation and recent reports show that both the regional Shift Bike share program and town-wide rebate program are steadily gaining traction in the community.
The Shift Bike share program offers monthly and annual passes to local users as well as a 40 cent-per-minute pay as you go model for all riders. It started in 2022 as a collaboration between Avon, Vail and EagleVail, to which Avon contributed $50,000 and installed six hubs with an average of 20 bikes within its borders.
A year-end report shared by the town on Dec. 5 showed that usage rates exceeded expectations, with 1,618 total rides registered in Avon, averaging 2.16 miles per ride.
Seeing the success of the program, the town elected to double its contributions in 2023 to a total of $100,000. The money will finance the installation of three additional hubs at Buffalo Ridge, EagleBend Apartments and Walmart as well as 12-15 additional e-bikes in the area. Last year, the ANB Bank and Avon Station hubs were the most heavily utilized, accounting for nearly 50% of trips.
In addition to providing these shared e-bikes to community members, the town of Avon made $25,000 available for distributing rebates to Avon residents who choose to purchase an electric bike. The e-bike purchase incentive program offers $200 to full-time Avon residents who purchase an e-bike from a distributor within Eagle County at a minimum price of $1,000. A $100 rebate is also available on used e-bikes with a minimum purchase price of $500.
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A Jan. 17 report shows that 27 residents took advantage of the program and a total of $5,400 in rebates were distributed, which is considerably less than the $25,000 allotted for the inaugural year.
“We’re feeling that the program has been effective, although we had more budget than we used by a significant amount,” said communications manager Elizabeth Wood. “We really didn’t know how much popularity the program was going to have, and so we kind of just assigned a number to it to see what would happen and how many people we would be interested in the program.”
The town received a total of 48 applications but rejected 24 of them for not meeting program standards. One standard that Wood said that the council may alter is the requirement that a bike is purchased from a local distributor. Eight of the 24 rejected applicants were denied due to outside purchasing, which Wood said runs counter to the intentions of the program if the goal is to get as many people on bikes as possible.
“In my mind, that means we have to consider whether the program is more aligned as a sustainability-related program, in terms of getting people out of their cars and on e-bikes, or if it is meant to be an assistance program for Eagle County businesses, or some combination of the two,” Wood said.
An additional $5,000 is budgeted for the e-bike purchase incentive program in 2023, and Wood recommended to the Town Council that the remaining funds from 2022 be rolled over into this year when she hopes that an increase in marketing and accessibility will encourage more Avon residents to get on e-bikes.