DENVER — Soon, people living in Denver's Montbello neighborhood will be able to check out an electric bike like they do a library book.
On Monday, Denver City Council approved an agreement with the nonprofit Montbello Organizing Committee to provide 10 e-bikes for the neighborhood in northeast Denver.
"The plan is to create one electric bicycle library," said Mayra Gonzáles, director of community development and infrastructure for Montbello Organizing Committee. "We’ll be retrofitting a shipping container. It’ll be the first, fully solar-powered electric bike library.”
Riders would be able to check out the e-bikes free of charge. Gonzáles said the $830,000 grant would also cover the cost of an electric van and the first electric vehicle charging station in Montbello.
“If we expect our neighbors to begin to adopt these clean energy forms of transportation, we need to be the ones to help build out that infrastructure if it’s not being built for us," Gonzáles said.
The electric van would serve as a shuttle for community organizations and small groups who do programming with Montbello residents, Gonzáles said.
"It really gives them the opportunity to take trips as a group," she said. “Going to destinations outside of the community, and that could be for recreation or that could be to access food. It could be to access the health centers that are located downtown.”
Ken Wilson was waiting for the bus Tuesday afternoon on Albrook Drive. He lives in Montbello and relies on the bus to get around.
“All the time pretty much because I don’t drive," Wilson said.
The cost of daily fares adds up.
"It’s $30 per week which is really steep for anybody trying to take the bus," Wilson said.
Wilson said he saw himself taking advantage of the new e-bikes.
“It sounds like it would be a good idea, so people don’t have to spend money to get around," he said.
Denver's Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency conducted a community-based needs assessment in Montbello last year. The office identified barriers to transportation and came up with potential solutions, which included electric vehicle options. Montbello Organizing Committee submitted a proposal and was selected to make the project happen.
“I think there’s a large need, and we can’t move fast enough to meet that need," Gonzáles said.
The e-bikes will have a temporary home outside FreshLo Hub at 12300 Albrook Drive.
“It is the future site of 97 units of affordable housing anchored by the grocery store, cultural center and mental space and affordable retail space," Gonzáles said.
Gonzáles said the goal is to have the new e-bikes available before the end of the year.
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