Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Uncle Sam pays bicycle commuters in 2009

Image of Stewart Mitchell, owner of Mitchell Construction, who often rides his bike with a trailer full of tools to work.
From U.S. News & World Report, 12.30.08:

Uncle Sam's Bike-to-Work Allowance
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.)
It'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.

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

4 comments:

letsgorideabike said...

The bikebux website is a clever idea! My firm told me that they would provide the benefit from the Act, but I won't need to use it. My employer already offers $25 a month for parking and transit. This "parking" benefit applies to the $25 I pay per month for use of the Chicago Cycling Center (secure parking, shower, lockers). A lot of people assume that the parking benefit applies only to cars, but all I had to do was ask.

Tony Bullard said...

My boss basically said, "I don't want to have to think about it...figure it out and it's yours.

So unless he's annoyed by having to put 10 extra bucks on all my paychecks, I may be good!

jojo said...

my workplace has a rideshare program where you accumulate points to redeem for extra cash or tickets and things. ie: 2 person carpool is 10 points a day, while bus,train,biking, and walking are 20 points a day

J. Clifford said...

Sweet, but what for those of us who are self-employed? It'll take a lot more than 20 dollars a month to convince people to change. Those of us who are already commuting by bike aren't doing it because of a desire to save $20, and those who are going to be motivated by money will need a lot more to get them to switch.