Leaving jail can be a challenging experience, with simple things like getting a driver’s license, finding a stable job, and securing a home feeling out of reach for many individuals. It becomes even more difficult without reliable transportation.

Chris Andrews, a case manager for Manna Soup Kitchen in Durango, Colorado, recognized the potential of Durango’s e-bike loan program to help ex-inmates. He eagerly applied for and received funding to acquire four e-bikes for lending purposes.

Since Durango implemented its new e-bike loan program last spring, Andrews has witnessed its tremendous impact on his clients, many of whom face homelessness upon release from prison. These individuals have the opportunity to borrow e-bikes for up to 180 days.

Andrews supplies them with helmets, bike locks, and information on Durango’s laws and regulations regarding e-bikes. He even replaces lost locks or helmets on the same day when possible.

Andrews attests that those who have taken advantage of the loan program have achieved greater success compared to parolees who did not participate. The ability to move around town, run errands, engage in recreational activities, and commute to work has significantly improved the lives of his clients.

Durango’s local e-bike incentive encourages low-income earners to buy e-bikes. Individuals who received rebates from this program began receiving their new bikes in June.

The Inspiring Story of Donny Sanchez

One of Andrews’ notable success stories is Donny Sanchez, who has thrived since joining Manna Soup Kitchen and borrowing an e-bike. Sanchez, who previously served time at Centennial Correctional Facility for illegal possession of a weapon, was homeless upon his release.

Through the program, Andrews provided Sanchez with temporary accommodation and an e-bike for transportation.

Sanchez describes how he covered a distance of 600 miles on the e-bike during his first month in the program. The borrowed bike has a range of 25 miles per charge and takes only three hours to recharge. Some days he rides 20 miles, while other days he goes as far as 50 miles.

Rather than relying on others for rides or public transportation, Sanchez greatly appreciates the convenience of the e-bike, which allows him to effortlessly travel around Durango. He explains that his life has revolved around a cycle of criminal behavior since 2004, driven by his drug addiction.

With 18 felony convictions, including theft, escape, trespassing, and high-speed chases, Sanchez is determined to change his life. He wants to find employment, achieve financial stability, regain his driver’s license, and be able to purchase a vehicle.

Sanchez views the e-bike as a substitute for a car, minus the expenses of gasoline and insurance. It offers him easy mobility within Durango.

In June, Andrews expanded his e-bike fleet to a total of nine. He wants to further increase the availability of e-bikes to his clients and explore the potential of incorporating bike loan services into other Manna programs.

In a recent interview with the Durango Herald, Andrews shared his gratitude for being able to help. “It definitely seems encouraging for them to actually feel like they stand a chance of completing parole and being successful,” Andrews said.