Friday, October 10, 2008

If You Commute By Bicycle

***Congress Passes Bicycle Commuter Act

If you listened to Rush Limbaugh's radio program last week you may have heard him mock the bike commuting legislation contained in the historic Wall Street bailout bill.

The influential right-wing commentator used the inclusion of cycling to voice his disgust about the "pork" that had found its way into the $700-billion package.

Limbaugh spoke in derisive tones about bicycle riding. Little did he know (or probably care) that the cycling-friendly legislation was 7 years in the making. The so-called "bicycle tax" provision was part of an additional $110 billion in line items added to the already massive bailout legislation.

Some of that probably was pork, but Limbaugh chose the wrong example to rail against.

What section 211 of H.R. bill 1424 does is give employers a tax credit for workers who pedal to their jobs. The amount is $20 per month per cycling employee.

This benefit helps cover the cost of employer reimbursement for reasonable expenses incurred by an employee "for the purchase of a bicycle and bicycle improvements, repair and storage, if such bicycle is regularly used for travel between the employee's residence and place of employment."

Score it a long-sought victory for the national advocacy organization, the League of American Bicyclists. LAB in turn credits the persistence of Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) for spearheading the lengthy political process on behalf of the ride-to-work movement.

(Actually, Blumenauer voted against the bailout bill despite the Bicycle Commuter Act's inclusion. He cited his opposition to other aspects of the wide-ranging legislation.)

According to LAB president Andy Clarke, the cycling provision previously failed passage when attached to bills dealing with matters such as climate change, energy and transportation.

"It's ironic," he says, "that it would wind up in a financial rescue package, but we'll take it. I'm not going to quibble with the method. I'm glad to see it done.

"Bicycle commuters will now be extended similar benefits to people who take transit and drive to work. It may not be a total game changer -- it's still a relatively small break -- but it gets us closer to the kind of treatment that cyclists in the U.K. and other parts of the world have had for years."

Clarke invites cyclists to keep an eye on the LAB website at "as we work on the implementation process."

No comments: