Cedar Rapids developing bike voucher program for low-income families

Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 10:19 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - You’ve heard of subsidized housing— right now, Cedar Rapids is looking at subsidized biking.

According to research, having a car is a big financial burden, but not having one can means a person risks being “locked out of the economy.”

Officials in Cedar Rapids are looking at bikes as a solution for helping lower-income households. They are working on a program that would offer vouchers to these families to help them buy a bike. Under the city’s plan, once people are approved, they can either get a $700 voucher for a bike or $900 for an electric bike.

If several hundred dollars for a bike sounds like a lot, just talk to a few bike owners, and you’ll learn a couple hundred dollars for a bike is par for the course.

That’s what TV9 did Monday afternoon.

“I know people I’ve worked with who have bikes that cost as much as a newer car,” said John Moore, one of the bikers we stopped.

That’s where the Bicycle and Electric Bicycle Voucher Program would come in.

There are 78 households participating in Cedar Rapids’ Family Self-Sufficiency Program, which helps those using Section 8 housing vouchers work toward independence. These families will all be eligible for this bike voucher.

“It provides options for families to successfully travel to work, health appointments, and social services,” said Sara Maples, Sustainability Program Manager for the city.

The city believes the mobility that comes with a bike is another step toward economic independence.

“What you’re doing is giving people the keys to their freedom,” said City Councilwoman Ashley Vanorny.

The plan goes to City Council next month.