Bicycle commuter and advocate Kate Rozen rides an e-bike through downtown New Haven after a press conference announcing the launch of an e-bike voucher program. Shanaé Harte / Connecticut Public

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) launched an electric bicycle incentive program that offers state residents vouchers towards the purchase of e-bikes from participating stores.

Connecticut residents 18 and older can apply and earn up to $500 towards the purchase of an e-bike on Connecticut’s DEEP website. Those living in designated environmental justice or distressed municipality communities, participate in a state or federal income qualifying program, or earning less than 300% of the federal poverty level are also eligible to apply for an additional $1,000 voucher.

“I’m not gonna say it’s like Taylor Swift tickets, but I anticipate the demand is gonna be really hot,” Katie Dykes, DEEP commissioner, said at a press event Wednesday. By the end of the event she announced that over 1,200 applications for vouchers had already been submitted just hours after the program opened.

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Jay Stange, coordinator at Transport Hartford Academy, says that the program providing more voucher eligibility to higher-need communities is one of its biggest strengths.

“I’m really proud of Connecticut for prioritizing the communities that are going to get the most advantage in this eBike program,” Strange said.

Dykes said DEEP has roughly $1.5 million allocated for the voucher program. That would come out to a maximum of 3,000 individual vouchers being available.

Connecticut isn’t the first government to offer this type of incentive; Denver and Colorado have similar programs. However, Dykes says Connecticut is the first state to include safety criteria requirements for the e-bikes they are providing.

New Haven mayor Justin Elicker said the program is aimed at helping the environment as well as people living in economically disadvantaged communities.

“There is no reason you should not be purchasing an e-bike… It is a great way to get around. It is good for the climate, it is good for the environment,” Elicker said.

This story was first published June 28, 2023 by Connecticut Public.