A pilot program developed by public and private organizations began distributing 90 free e-bikes in the greater Portland area last Sunday.

The initiative is called Ride2Own. It’s received $266,725 in funding from a variety of organizations. These organizations include Portland General Electric’s Drive Change Fund, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Metro, and the US Department of Energy.

The program aims to enhance electric bike safety, accessibility, and e-mobility. The program will be implemented by local cycling advocacy groups We All Rise and The Street Trust.

The e-bikes will be given to individuals who meet specific financial criteria and demonstrate the necessity of having an e-bike. By containing electric batteries, e-bikes increase mobility for individuals who are too poor to afford cars and yet find traditional biking challenging.

The launch of the program will occur in two phases, starting with the distribution of 15 e-bikes in the Portsmouth neighborhood. The remaining 75 bikes will be distributed in Parkrose, Milwaukie, and Hillsboro at a later date.

These areas have historically lacked transportation development. The Ride2Own program aims to leverage this opportunity to improve transportation planning.

Participants who adhere to the guidelines outlined on the app will have the opportunity to keep the e-bike for free at the end of the 12-month period.

The app will track riders’ trips. This will allow for better planning of active transportation routes, bike lanes, and other infrastructure in the aforementioned neighborhoods.

In an interview with KPTV, Quincy Brown of We All Rise highlighted how e-bikes offer greater comfort compared to regular bicycles and can have a transformative impact on individuals.

By fostering a supportive local e-bike community, the Ride2Own program will facilitate Portland’s transition away from single-occupancy automobile transportation toward active transportation.

In addition, more e-bike programs could be coming to Portland soon. House Bill 2571 is currently before the Oregon House of Representatives. If approved, the bill would provide eligible individuals with a $400 discount on e-bike purchases.