Uncle Sam's Bike-to-Work AllowanceIt's 2009, and the Bicycle Commuter Act is getting significant media attention, from warm West Palm Beach to frosty Minneapolis. This media attention is very welcome. Most employers are probably unaware of the new bicycle commuting benefit, and many employers are struggling to understand implementation. One Silicon Valley bicyclist, entrepreneur, and Bike Commute Tips blog reader is developing a website to help cyclists gain Bike Commuter Act benefits at their workplace, including an application where you can send an e-card to your boss or HR director explaining your interest: BikeBux.com.
Remember that big $700 billion bailout package that Congress passed? There were all sorts goodies tucked inside, including one for bicyclists. Yes, bicyclists. It's called the Bicycle Commuter Act and goes into effect January 1. While employers can already dole out tax-free funds to employees for parking and public transportation, this Act permits companies to provide $20 a month tax free to employees who bike to work, allowing the money to be used for bicycle purchases and bike upkeep. Spearheading the campaign for a bike commuter bill was Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon. "We have legislation that is designed to promote cycling and to provide a little equity for the people who burn calories instead of fossil fuel," he says. (Read more.)
The actual benefit of the act, about $240 per individual cyclist each year is helpful, but minimal. The biggest benefit of the Bicycle Commuter Act is that it legitimizes bicycling as a commuting mode. This might inspire more employers to think about providing showers, lockers, secure bicycle parking, and other inducements to their employees. Providing free vehicle parking for employees is expensive (construction, maintenance, insurance, security, lighting, etc.), wastes valuable real estate, and offends a company's neighbors ("Too much traffic!") Employers can save money and burnish their corporate citizen credentials by offering their employees diverse transportation options, especially sustainable ones like bicycling.
Does your employer offer or plan to offer this bike commuter act benefit?
Image: Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
Visit: 2009 brings new benefits for Chicago bicycle commuters, but will they notice?, Medill Reports (IL)
Visit: A $20-a-month benefit if you cycle to work, Boston Globe
Visit: It pays to bike to work thanks to federal program, TCPalm (FL)
Visit: Bicycle commuters eligible for checks from employers, Tri-City Herald (WA)
Visit: The Bicycle Commuter Act of 2008, BikeWalk.org
Visit: Commuters can pedal all the way to the bank, Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction, CO)
Visit: Take a bike: New provision allows employers to reimburse bike-riding commuters, Benton County Daily Record (Arkansas)
Visit: Bicycle Commuter Act in effect, Coshocton Tribune (Ohio)
Visit: Pedaling pays off, Bozeman Daily Chronicle (Montana)
Visit: Andrew Jackson: Come to papa, Lawrence Journal-World
Visit: $20 a Month to Bike to Work Won't Get People out of Cash Guzzlers, PitchEngine.com
Visit: More press for the Bicycle Commuter Act, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site