How Vail’s E-Bikes for Essentials program is expanding access to smarter commuting | VailDaily.com
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How Vail’s E-Bikes for Essentials program is expanding access to smarter commuting

The town is now accepting applications for eight Vail residents to get free electric bikes

The town of Vail's E-Bikes for Essential program provides Vail residents with a QuietKat E-Bike, encouraging the "smart commute" option over vehicle use.
QuietKat/Courtesy Photo

Over the past eight months, Vail resident and rec district employee Jack Goodreau has ridden his e-bike 900 miles, favoring it over his car for commuting, recreating and just getting around town.

Goodreau was one of the local residents and essential workers selected as a participant in Vail’s E-Bikes for Essentials program. After hearing about the program from a coworker at Dobson Ice Arena, he applied and received his e-bike for free in September 2022.

“Ever since moving to Vail, I had seen people on e-bikes all over the place and had definitely been thinking I wanted to get one of those and ride it around and maybe even replace my car as the main mode of transportation,” he said. “So when I saw this and saw that I might fit into the requirements of the people they were selecting, I thought it was a no-brainer to apply.”



Prior to getting the electric bike, Goodreau was using his car, and sometimes the bus, to commute daily from East Vail to Lionshead. On warmer days, he would sometimes opt for a bike ride, but mostly he was using his vehicle. However, at the time when he was set to receive the e-bike, his car was actually in the shop and quickly, he adapted to using the e-bike for almost everything.

“At the time, it was a means to get to work on my own schedule without having to rely on the bus,” Goodreau said. “And then, as we got into the winter and I still didn’t have my car back, I got accustomed to riding in the elements a little bit and it really wasn’t a big deal to me.”

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“By the time I got my car back, I saw no reason to drive it in Vail,” he added. “I’m taking the e-bike to work, I would take it skiing, I’d take it to the gym, anywhere I’m going in town. I have no problem hopping on the bike now.”

Jack Goodreau was one of the participants selected for Vail’s E-Bikes for Essentials Program. Since getting his bike, he’s ridden 900 miles, taking almost all his trips in town on the electric bike.
Jack Goodreau/Courtesy Photo

And aside from helping reduce carbon emissions, the e-bike has given Goodreau a new outlook on life in Vail.

“I think just being able to not drive my car, leaving it at home, saving the money on gas, being able to enjoy my commute — I find myself looking around and enjoying the mountains and enjoying the fresh air. Whereas, when I was in my car, I would just turn on the radio and drive from A to B and that was that,” Goodreau said. “I guess, I’m stopping and smelling the roses a little more because of the e-bike.”



A different way to go

Selected participants for Vail’s E-Bikes for Essentials receive not only an e-bike, but also accessories including a helmet, pump, lock and pannier commuting bags at no cost.
Town of Vail/Courtesy Photo

Goodreau is just one of 12 current participants in Vail’s E-Bikes for Essentials program, which was started in 2021 as a way to reach countywide climate action goals.

“In Vail, transportation has been identified as the second greatest contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Climate Action Collaborative for the Eagle County Community has identified that if residents employ smart commuting options twice per week, transportation GHG emissions will be reduced by 17%,” said Beth Markham, Vail’s environmental sustainability manager.

Smart commuting includes things like working remotely, carpooling, taking the bus, and using “human-powered forms of commuting” like biking and walking. Markham said that Eagle County residents favored option for this type of commuting was e-bikes in a 2020 Climate Action Collaborative survey.

“However, not everyone has an e-bike and cost is often a barrier to entry,” Markham added.

Thus, the town started its E-Bikes for Essentials program to help address these barriers and provide a “pathway toward e-bike ownership for income-qualified, essential workers living in Vail,” she said.

Vail’s program was modeled off the Can Do Colorado E-Bike Pilot Program, which was developed by the Colorado Energy Office in 2020.

The town partners with QuietKat, an Eagle-based e-bike manufacturer that provides the bikes as well as with The National Renewable Energy Laboratory to track the program’s success.

As part of the program, participants are required to commute to work, run errands and attend social events via e-bike as often as possible, and at least two times per week rather than driving a personal vehicle during non-snow months for a minimum of two years. This usage is tracked through an NREL mobile app for two years, after which time the participant gets to keep the bike.

“Through the data collected from October 2021 to December 2022, the participants have logged over 3,500 miles on their e-bikes that replaced 19% of all vehicle trips during that time frame,” Markham said.

The data could have wider-ranging impacts as well.

“The data is aggregated for all Vail participants and will help both NREL and Town of Vail better understand how electric bikes can be used as a commuting tool, especially in the mountain region, to reduce single occupancy vehicle commuting trips,” Markham said. “This comprehensive information will aid NREL and the town of Vail in better understanding travel behavior in their goal to reduce carbon emissions from transportation.”

A new class

Beth Markham, with the town of Vail, shows off one of the QuietKat e-bikes that are part of its E-Bikes for Essentials program. The town is seeking eight new participants to use the bike for at least the next two years.
QuietKat/Courtesy Photo

Now, the town is seeking eight new participants for the program.

Applications are currently available for individuals that fit the following criteria:

Applications are due by Friday, May 12 at 5 p.m., and the participants will be selected no later than Friday, May 26.

“I just wish more people would know it’s a really legit mode of transportation, it’s doable. Whatever you’re thinking is holding you back, whether it’s being able to store things on your bike, there’s equipment you can put on there for that. If you’re worried about showing up to work sweaty, you can crank it up into a higher mode where you’re pedaling less,” Goodreau said.

“I hope people will think of it as a way to leave the car at home a little more,” he added.

Not only do the selected eight participants receive a QuietKat Villager e-bike, but also accessories including a helmet, pump, lock and pannier commuting bags at no cost. The town, Goodreau noted, has also helped him find appointments at local shops for flat tires and other issues to make sure the bike is always in good condition.

The value of the program, Markham added, is that it provides access to this viable mode of transit to individuals who would benefit the most.

“E-bikes can supplement existing public transit systems, ease parking and traffic congestion, reduce carbon emissions and help achieve GHG reduction goals, and encourage a healthy lifestyle. E-bikes serve residents for short commutes while running errands, commuting to work or attending social events rather than driving personal vehicles,” she said.

To learn more about the program, and to apply, visit LoveVail.org/ebikes. Questions about the program, applications or timeline can be sent to Markham at bmarkham@vailgov.com.


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