The city of Oakland, California, is using a state grant to offer bicycle lending, along with instruction on how to ride a bike and maintenance, in low-income neighborhoods to reduce congestion and carbon emissions.  

The city is currently in the middle of its five-year Clean Mobility Options Voucher Pilot Program projec t, funded last year with a $1 million grant from the California Air Resources Board. The CARB grants are designed to support zero-emission mobility projects that help communities overcome residents’ transportation challenges. 

The City of Oakland Department of Transportation is joining with GRID Alternatives Bay Area, a non-profit dedicated to promoting renewable energy. 

The city is aiming to provide a mix of e-bikes and adaptive cycles to help people 18 and older, including those who have physical mobility limitations, reduce dependence on cars. 

The mix will include side-by-side tandems, tricycles, cargo bikes and handcycles. OakDOT dropped an earlier plan to include scooters, said OakDOT New Mobility Supervisor Kerby Olsen. 

OakDOT and GRID Alternatives plan to partner with local bike shops to provide maintenance and instruction on how to use the vehicles. Participants must also know how to ride a bike, and if not, they will be referred to programs that teach cycling.  

The city is hoping for an Oct. 15 launch but hasn’t determined the terms or finalized the date yet, which are dependent on “supply chain issues”. 

OakDOT came up with the idea while conducting community outreach for a bikes plan, Olsen said. It is currently surveying residents and planning focus groups, which will help determine details like the vehicle mix, pricing and length of rentals, though they will be for medium and long-term, not daily, use.  

The future of the program depends on how it works but their one aim is to lead people to possible state and federal subsidy programs that may provide tax advantages or vouchers to buy e-bikes.