The city of Berkeley awarded Waterside Workshops a $250,000 grant to create an e-bike access program for low-income Berkeley residents.
The e-bike access program is a part of Berkeley’s Pilot Climate Equity Fund aimed toward providing climate benefits and electric mobility to income-eligible Berkeley residents, according to Neil Larsen, executive director of Waterside Workshops. The project includes the distribution of e-bikes to approximately fifty Berkeley households and aims to make biking accessible to more people.
“The idea behind the Climate Equity Fund is that low-income individuals are suffering disproportionately from climate change,” Larsen said. “This fund was specifically targeted to provide climate benefits to low-income residents.”
Berkeley City Councilmember Terry Taplin said in a Waterside Workshops press release that micro-mobility and modal shift are “key” to climate resiliency.
Waterside Workshops is a youth organization located at Berkeley Aquatic Park that offers job training and outdoor education to youth across the East Bay. For 15 years, it has provided repurposed bicycles to Berkeley and East Bay residents through its bicycle repair and reuse programs.
Larsen said Waterside Workshops will be using part of the funding for e-bike training as part of their youth internship program. Participants will be trained and develop the skills needed to sell and service e-bikes.
“Anything that we can do to get people out of personal automobiles will benefit the climate,” Larsen said. “E-bikes can be transformative for individuals for commuting and errand purposes, as well as for those with physical limitations.”
The organization will also be partnering with GRID Alternatives to engage the community and set up project parameters in the following months. According to Larsen, both organizations will be conducting community outreach that may include virtual and in-person meetings to inform the community of the e-bike program.
However, Larsen noted that an additional part of this outreach will be to inform residents of other components of the Climate Equity Fund they might be eligible for, such as home retrofits, e-cars and access to other green technology.
Larsen said the goal is to set up an application process for individuals interested in participating in this program and to have e-bikes available by next spring.
“We’re happy and honored to be able to take on this project,” Larsen said. “We’re looking forward to getting e-bikes in the hands of Berkeley residents.”