House Passes Bill Including Bike Commuting Frindge Benefits

03

Jun

House Passes Bill Including Bike Commuting Frindge Benefits

The House recently passed the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008 (HR-6049).  Included in this bill is a transportation fringe benefit for bicycle commuters.  Among the benefits are:

  • Allow for an employer-paid reimbursement fringe benefit, permitting employers to reimburse employees for reasonable expenses incurred by the employee during the calendar year for the purchase and repair of a bicycle, bicycle improvements, and bicycle storage, provided that the bicycle is regularly used for travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment.
  • An annual limitation for an employee for a calendar year would be equal to the product of $20 multiplied by the number of the employee’s qualified bicycle commuting months for the year. The $20 amount would not be indexed for inflation.

In English, I believe this is saying that we could take a tax deduction for bicycle commuting related expenses.  The dollar limit would be linked to the total number of employee’s claiming the exemption.  If it goes through, it’s time to start beating the drum and convincing co-workers to bike to work.

We’ve seen legislation like this in the past, but to my knowledge it’s never made it past the full congress and signed into law.  I get miffed every year when I do my taxes and see that I could take a tax deduction for driving a hybrid vehicle, yet I get nothing for riding a bike!  Perhaps this will be our lucky year!

6 thoughts on - House Passes Bill Including Bike Commuting Frindge Benefits

  • Jun 3, 2008 at 7:22 am

    I sympathize with you frustration. But this bill is more corporate welfare, as far as I can see.

    Instead of incentive, it should be punitive. Companies that don't offer a place to put bikes, shower and laundry facilities, lockers, and welness counseling ought to be fined for not doing so. But don't hold your breath. They're still fighting off living wages, daylight and fresh air requirements, and other amenities already law in enlightened countries. America is fast becoming a Third World nation depending upon your social class.

  • Jun 3, 2008 at 9:10 am

    I'd much rather see something implemented as an incentive than through punitive means. Trying to set policy through punitive means, just causes the big corporations to find loopholes and avoid the fines. Alternately, providing incentives allows change to blossom from within. Employees can lean on the employers to do the right thing and get them the benefit they deserve.

    Most of all, I'd like to see bicycle commuters treated on an equal footing with other environmentally friendly modes of transportation. Why in the world should someone driving a hybrid automobile see a benefit, but those who ride bicycles, walk, or use other forms of public transportation not see a benefit?

  • Jun 3, 2008 at 11:08 am

    With that attitude we'll make an activist out of you yet. I tried leaning on my old company. I don't work there anymore. The only thing I miss was the 24 mile daily bike commute (and steady paycheck). I'm making up for it in other ways.

    People are cowered into submission, which is why you need punitive laws to level the playing field. Even then, laws are only followed when it suits corporate ambitions.

  • Jun 4, 2008 at 5:11 am

    Hi. Please join the Bicycle to Work! LinkedIn networking group. Members pledge that they will try to ride their bicycle to work or on an errand at least once a week. Although the benefits should be obvious, let me outline them here.

    Right now people in the industrialized world are facing two very grave problems: obesity and a growing scarcity of oil. Compounding this problem is the new food shortage brought about, in part, by the conversion of food cropland to bio-fuel crop production. Most people feel powerless to help, but there is one thing that we can do. Ride our bicycles to work.

    If everyone would agree to ride their bikes to work one day per week we could cut oil consumption by as much as 10-15%. No one would argue that riding a bike burns more calories than driving the car. Although popular politically right now, most bio-fuels consume more energy than they produce. We would be much better to eat those bio-crops then use our own energy to transport us around.

    So spread the word. Make it a movement! Bicycle to work one day a week and do your part to cut back obesity and the overuse of oil and precious cropland.

    Just go to my profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreylstevenson and you can click on the group to be included. While you are there, don't forget to ask to link to my network of more than 9,000,000 like-minded professionals. I accept all invitations and look forward to meeting you.

    Jeff

  • Jun 6, 2008 at 11:32 am

    I think we are seeing the beginning of a changing tide. There are already starting to be significant incentives for companies to build green buildings. I know that the bike commuters on the Brown campus are starting to see showers show up in every new building and any building that is being remodeled. Why? Well, it's one criteria towards achieving a certain level of "greenness", which translates to money somewhere down the line.

  • BikeCommuter
    Dec 17, 2008 at 12:09 am

    The benefits of bicycle commuting are extinguished by the burden of non-detecting traffic signals and costly vehicle fines from police departments preying on bicyclists. An example is the city of Newport Beach in Southern California. Not being contiguous to a major freeway, Newport Beach is light traffic and family-oriented with car drivers being bicycle-friendly. But city engineers have set back a frequently-cycled left-turn signal to not detect bicyclists; police motorcycles chase bicycles to create pseudo-vehicle citations; and the police commanding officers classify bicycles as vehicles while advocating bicyclists to be pedestrians and use crosswalks. The scenario is city hall enabling the police department to prey on bicyclists for vehicle citation revenue. Both Newport Beach City Hall and the Newport Beach Police Department (NBPD) defy California state law AB-1581 that requires traffic-activated signals to detect bicycles upon first placement or replacement.