The transformational power of transportation: Program provides e-bikes to essential employees in need

A group of CSU employees with their e-bikes

CSU essential employees prepare to ride their new e-bikes on July 14. Photo by John Eisele/CSU Photography

Nineteen essential Colorado State University employees recently received the life-changing gift of an electric bike, providing them with reliable, affordable and consistent transportation.

Thanks to a grant awarded to the CSU CARE Program through a partnership with several local entities, each of the employees recently received an e-bike and safety gear. The recipients either have previously no form of transportation, or their transportation wasn’t reliable.

Several of them depended upon others to take them where they needed to go, including to work. As a result, they said they were often late to appointments or commitments or didn’t have basic supplies they needed because they didn’t want to put others out, or those helping them with transportation weren’t available.

Each of the 19 university employees who qualified received a bike on July 14. They also got a helmet, lights, a bike lock and other equipment necessary for the program, which requires that they download an app to help the program track bike use for two years, gives safe riding tips and trouble warnings, and reminds the employees of needed maintenance, covered by the grant for two years and provided by Recycled Cycles on Main Campus.

“They left with their hands full,” said Emma Chavez, CSU’s CARE Program coordinator, who worked to identify employees who qualified for the program and gather their application materials for a single submission to the city.

‘Recipients were ecstatic’

Photo by John Eisele/CSU Photography

The grant was awarded to the city from the Colorado Energy Office through its Can Do Colorado eBike pilot program. The program provided bikes, accessories and no-cost maintenance for essential employees.

“Recipients were ecstatic,” Chavez said. “One employee who is single was so happy that they would now be able to go places, meet people, and make friendships, ending feelings of isolation and loneliness. Another had been unable to make doctor’s appointments and pick up critical medication because they had no way to get to their pharmacy. And another struggled with sleep because he rode his regular (non-electrical) bike for several miles each day to work, but had back issues, and was in constant pain.”

Chavez pointed out that the bikes provided them with more control over their own lives as well; they are now in more control over their schedules and needs. Two of the recipients received bikes that were adaptive, which furthered their ability to be mobile. The bikes ranged in value from $1,200-$3,000.

To qualify, the employees had to be classified as essential employees and earn a wage 60 percent or less of the area median income. The team administering the grant included the city of Fort Collins, Northern Colorado Clean Cities, Bike Fort Collins, CSU’s Parking and Transportation Services, and Recycled Cycles.

The program also aims to help expand e-bike access in Fort Collins while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and maximizing air quality benefits while improving the overall health of each individual recipient and the broader community.