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Pedal Ahead's ride-to-own scheme gets lower-income San Diego residents on e-bikes

Based in San Diego, Pedal Ahead is a loan-to-own e-bike program. Or rather, ride-to-own. Participants enter the program for two years and commit to using their bike for a minimum of 150 miles per month, averaging 5 miles a day. They record their trips on Strava's mobile app and share that data with Pedal Ahead. 

Riders are responsible for taking out personal bicycle insurance for liability, loss, theft and damage. Once two years are up, the e-bike becomes the participant's to own. Participants who don't reach the minimum mileage requirement can buy their bike at a prorated cost. 

Pedal Ahead launched in September 2020 to provide San Diego residents — those earning no more than USD 50,000 annually — with an alternative to driving. In fall 2022, the program is recruiting 125 new participants in partnership with the San Diego Association of Governments, the county's metropolitan planning organization. 

Like the original pilot, SANDAG's program will prioritize lower-income residents. It's seeking people from diverse demographics, with varying reasons for traveling across the region, from work to errands to social activities.

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Lowering greenhouse gas emissions, decreasing air pollution and traffic congestion, improving health and providing residents with an ultra-low-cost way to get around, Pedal Ahead is creating a whole stack of wins. And to boot, it's doing so for people who are unlikely to be able to afford an electric car. To go big and go green, democratizing access to sustainable products and services is essential. Time to join that movement?

Related: In France, up to EUR 4000 for people who trade in their car for a bike

Innovation of the day

Spotted by: Joaquim Moody