|The Devou Good Foundation is offering a $500 discount to residents of select communities on both sides of the river who purchase an e-bike after Feb. 15. (photo: provided)|
by Robin Gee
Starting Tuesday, Feb. 15, people who live in the northern Kentucky river towns of Bellevue, Covington, Dayton, Ludlow, and Newport, and select Cincinnati zip codes, will be eligible for a $500 purchase rebate. of an e-bike, thanks to a grant program through the Covington-based Devou Good Foundation.
The privately funded organization focuses on projects that support the community, including those aimed at “improving active transportation.” In northern Kentucky, the foundation has worked with neighborhood groups to improve traffic safety and flow through its Vision Zero program.
In Fort Thomas, the organization has partnered with Chesapeake residents to adopt a slow streets program, and in Newport, the group is helping support ephemeral bike lanes in hopes they will become permanent.
Devou Good launched its Active Transportation Fund last year, setting aside funds to support bike lanes, cycling infrastructure, pedestrian safety initiatives and the new e-bike grant program.
What is an electric bike?
E-bikes are bicycles equipped with a battery-powered electric motor to provide “pedal-assist” power for climbing steep hills. President of the Devou Good Foundation Matt Butler said the additional power boost makes it easier to tackle the many hills in our area, which he hopes will encourage more people to ride.
“When it comes to e-bikes, what people will find is that it’s a lot of fun, and they’re more likely to ride their e-bikes than not. not get used to,” he said. With e-bikes leveling those daunting hills, “people will be drawn back to the fun they had as kids riding bikes, and they’ll rediscover that joy.”
With increased use, he says, comes a host of benefits.
“E-bikes reduce a rider’s carbon footprint, improve their physical and emotional health while eliminating road wear,” he said. “E-bikes are a key part of active transportation and creating a sustainable future. They emit 25g of CO2e per person per kilometer, while buses emit 110g and cars 240g.”
He said he hopes the program will add 100 voters who support the development of e-bike and bike-friendly infrastructure.
“Another reason we’re interested in getting more people to ride bikes is to have more people asking their local governments, demanding their local governments, to provide safe places to ride bikes.”
How electric bikes work
Butler said the small e-bike motor is a force multiplier. In other words, the rider first has to pedal to start the engine, but once it starts, it provides extra power that essentially levels out hills. Those who ride e-bikes still have to pedal, so they’re still getting exercise, but hills are easier. With that, Butler said, the hope is that people will get out and ride more often and go further.
The batteries are small and light, and can be removed and charged at home overnight, much like a cellphone or laptop, he said.
“The batteries draw minimal electricity. And the great thing is that the range is extended,” Butler said. “I have an e-bike. I can ride about 30 miles round trip. My bike gets me to most of the meetings I need to attend. Obviously I don’t go all the way to Sharonville, but I can go about 10-12 miles.”
He said he faces some pretty steep hills to get anywhere from home, but with the e-bike it’s an easier and more enjoyable ride.
Most mainstream e-bikes cost between $1,500 and $4,000, and today almost every major bike manufacturer offers a range of e-bike models. The $500 discount can be applied to purchases made at physical bike stores and online stores. One of the reasons the foundation chose the city’s river corridor and a particular set of Cincinnati neighborhoods was both access to riding locations and proximity to bike shops in those areas.
The first modern e-bikes hit the market in the United States in 1998 and interest has grown steadily. According to data from the NPD Group, the 2020 e-bike retail market in the United States was estimated at $547 million, more than double the market in 2019. Industry analysts estimate that more than 12 million electric bikes will be sold in the United States between 2020 and 2023. Global sales figures are expected to bring in $130 million over the same period.
How to get your discount
“There’s been a lot of interest already,” Butler said. “…So if people are interested, I would encourage them to get ready to buy their bike and submit their rebate request as soon as possible. [after February 15]because the fund is limited to $50,000.”
Reimbursement is open to people living in Covington, Newport, Bellevue, Dayton, and Ludlow, or Cincinnati ZIP Codes: 45202, 45203, 45204, 45205, 45206, 45219, 45214, 45220, 45223, and 45226.
Here are the steps for the refund:
- Buy your e-bike in a store or online after February 15 and keep the receipt.
- Go to the Discounts on Devou Good Foundation electric bikes Web page.
- Complete the application, which includes a seven-question survey, and upload your receipt.
- Once approved, the Devou Good Foundation will send you a check for $500.
- After 90 days, the foundation will send you another survey to complete. This one will ask you how you used the bike. Some of the questions, Butler said, will ask whether having the bike has changed your transportation choices. Have you used your e-bike for shopping? Did it allow you to go further in less time, opening up more possibilities for shopping or working?
Where to ride
The Foundation collects the e-bike data in hopes that it will support the expansion of bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly policies and projects in the region.
Currently, trails and places to ride safely are dotted around our area. On the north Kentucky side of the river there is the River Commons Trail and the Licking the Riverfront Greenway Trailsbut Butler noted that these, like similar trails across the river, are in “pieces and parts”.
Cyclists can venture to Cincinnati via the Purple People Bridge or the Suspension Bridge to connect with the Ohio River Trailalso in the sections at present, he says.
While people on both sides of the river are actively working on plans, Butler said the big challenge in northern Kentucky is the number of individual municipalities along the river and building connections across them.
Devou Good sponsors a “Map of low-stress bikes” available through Three-state trials which provides information on trails and low-speed streets. Made by cyclists, the map indicates the streets to avoid and the recommended streets.
The Devou Good Foundation was founded by Rebecca Gensler, Butler’s wife, who established the fund to support and work with nonprofits and municipalities seeking to improve the quality of life for residents. For more information, visit Devou Good Foundation website.