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Old 12-22-07, 03:38 PM   #1
Andy Dyson
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Debate about Tax Credit for Bicyclists in the US House of Representatives

This is my reply to a YouTube posting by the Republican minority leader of the House, John Boehner.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1-nK-n1UsE

There's a lot more rubbish in his original speech, but this relates to the part about the commuting tax credit. Sorry about the lousy sound quality.

You can find the whole text of the speech at the LAB site.

http://www.bikeleague.org/news/commuter_tax_update.pdf

Peace out.
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Old 12-22-07, 04:34 PM   #2
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Andy, do you really think an act of congress will serve the interests of cyclists?

How big would a tax break have to be to get, say, 1% of commuters to ride their bikes to work 25 times in one year? Should the tax break be given if only one day were traveled by bike? How would such a thing be enforced? If it is not "enforced", why wouldn't it simply be claimed by all?

Why are you advocating a tax break for the rich?

I am glad that you pointed out the dangers of building nuclear power plants designed and built by Soviet engineers! We wouldn't want another 4000 people killed like there were in the Chernobyl disaster!

Have you considered that your reaction to nuclear power is a bit, well, hysterical?
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Old 12-23-07, 08:55 AM   #3
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Please leave the goverment out of my cycling
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Old 12-23-07, 04:59 PM   #4
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We already get a big tax break when we don't pay at the pump.
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Old 12-23-07, 05:32 PM   #5
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We already get a big tax break when we don't pay at the pump.
If you go car free in South Carolina, you also don't pay property tax on your car, but you can't have a driver's license without showing proof there is a car insurance policy with your name on it.
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Old 12-23-07, 09:25 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by ChipSeal View Post
Andy, do you really think an act of congress will serve the interests of cyclists?

How big would a tax break have to be to get, say, 1% of commuters to ride their bikes to work 25 times in one year? Should the tax break be given if only one day were traveled by bike? How would such a thing be enforced? If it is not "enforced", why wouldn't it simply be claimed by all?

Why are you advocating a tax break for the rich?

I am glad that you pointed out the dangers of building nuclear power plants designed and built by Soviet engineers! We wouldn't want another 4000 people killed like there were in the Chernobyl disaster!

Have you considered that your reaction to nuclear power is a bit, well, hysterical?
If you actually studied the proposal you would know that it's an amendment to an existing tax incentive enjoyed by van poolers, mass transit users, and drivers who pay for parking. The amendments adds bike commuters into the mix of transit users who already enjoy these benefits. As far as enforcement and abuse, it could be implemented in much the same way the existing benefits are for transit, parking, and van pool users. I've not noticed rampant abuse or fraud of these already existing 10+ year old benefits, so perhaps your concerns are a bit...well....hysterical.

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Old 12-24-07, 03:11 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Scot_Gore View Post
If you actually studied the proposal you would know that it's an amendment to an existing tax incentive enjoyed by van poolers, mass transit users, and drivers who pay for parking. The amendments adds bike commuters into the mix of transit users who already enjoy these benefits. As far as enforcement and abuse, it could be implemented in much the same way the existing benefits are for transit, parking, and van pool users. I've not noticed rampant abuse or fraud of these already existing 10+ year old benefits, so perhaps your concerns are bit...well....hysterical.
Scot, did you view Andy's video? If you had then you would know that I was responding point for point on his comments therein.

So I will ask you, should we look to congress if we want to promote cycling?

What costs do bicycle commuters incur, and why should taxes be demanded from me to off-set them? I am annoyed by the parking subsidies we are already giving to motorists, (In the form of curbside parking on PUBLIC roads.) and now you tell me I am being taxed to pay for the parking of commuters also?

No, I have not studied the proposal, but neither has any congressman or senator! (Which is a separate scandal all by it's self!) If they can make law without reading it, surely I can comment on it without reading it!
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Old 12-24-07, 04:20 AM   #8
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A tax break for bicycle commuting, by itself, I could live without. But being that other forms of energy efficient/lower pollution commuting get breaks, why should cyclists not? The main thing is to me that the recognition, on the federal level, of bicycles being viable transportation, would be very, very good.
Pinhead: "Bicycles don't belong on the road."
CR: "Really? Then why does the federal government give me a tax credit as a low emissions vehicle?"
Pinhead: "<Fume>."

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Old 12-24-07, 06:24 AM   #9
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Tax incentives and disincentives seem a reasonable use of Congressional power to encourage or discourage activities in line with government goals.

I suspect the founding fathers would find the current system of taxes quite unpalatable.
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Old 12-24-07, 09:26 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by ChipSeal View Post

So I will ask you, should we look to congress if we want to promote cycling?
I already do, these are all existing programs and regulations:
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/...lu.htm#sec1807
http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/saferoutes/
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/legsregs/dir...icy/memo91.htm
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/factsheets/b-ped.htm
http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/PED_BIKE/...99Guidance.pdf

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What costs do bicycle commuters incur, and why should taxes be demanded from me to off-set them?it!
Unless it's been changed in this latest round of negoiations the program won't actually use tax money, but rather reduce tax revenues to the government, aka it's a tax cut. The money will be from your employer who will enjoy a business tax break for providing you with the benefit. Much like how most health insurance, child care, and out of pocket medical expense is handled through pre tax deductions and FSA plans. I currently get my bus pass through the Transportaion Fringe Benefit Act from my employer. Just like they buy my bus pass each month there's nothing that says they couldn't buy my lights, or my studded tires, or my balacava, or my bike for that matter.

Scot

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Old 12-24-07, 06:29 PM   #11
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I already do, these are all existing programs and regulations:

http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/PED_BIKE/...99Guidance.pdf

Scot
I found this part interesting-

Quote:
"Federal transportation policy is to increase nonmotorized transportation to at least 15 percent of all trips and to simultaneously reduce the number of nonmotorized users killed or injured in traffic crashes by at least 10 percent. This policy, which was adopted in 1994 as part of the National Bicycling and Walking Study, remains a high priority for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). TEA-21 provides the funding opportunities, planning processes, and policy language by which States and metropolitan areas can achieve this ambitious national goal."
Now that we are 14 years on, how has that worked out for you? How many more years will you give this obviously failed program to achieve it's goal of a 15% of all trips by nonmotorized transportation? No doubt employer tax breaks for bicycle commuters will push it over the top!

In my opinion, this congress is the least likely outfit to promote anything, let alone cycling! I can't think of any single thing the federal government does in a way anyone would consider timely, efficient, and well. Your faith in them, while charming, is at best naive.

Tailwinds to you scot, and merry Christmas!
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Old 12-24-07, 08:38 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by ChipSeal View Post
I found this part interesting-



Now that we are 14 years on, how has that worked out for you? How many more years will you give this obviously failed program to achieve it's goal of a 15% of all trips by nonmotorized transportation? No doubt employer tax breaks for bicycle commuters will push it over the top!

In my opinion, this congress is the least likely outfit to promote anything, let alone cycling! I can't think of any single thing the federal government does in a way anyone would consider timely, efficient, and well. Your faith in them, while charming, is at best naive.

Tailwinds to you scot, and merry Christmas!
It got us this law: http://michie.lexisnexis.com/marylan...ment-frame.htm
This State Bike Master Plan: http://www.e-mdot.com/Planning/Bicycle/FINALB.PDF
This Regional Bike Master Plan: http://www.baltometro.org/content/view/301/323/
(This is required by all Metropolitan Planning Organizations and there is some power here if you can assert it.)

That law changed a motorized only design from this:
A brief run down on I-95 MD 24 interchange up to 3 lanes of fast non-pulsated exiting or merging on to MD 24, a median that separates entering traffic from thru traffic as well as separating a thru cyclist from the bikeable shoulder built just for them, in short a cyclists and pedestrian hell.

To this: http://www.baltimorespokes.org/artic...71111110139607

The law helped get us (some) of a Master Planed hiker/biker trail back into a major highway project (ICC.)

The combination of two help turn MTA from no bike racks on buses to a fully equipped fleet in ~a year.

In general it has helped preserve most of the bikeable shoulders that we do have and has created some new ones as well but mostly it has helped build trails with the most notable one here is the Great Allegany Passage Trail.

Also the state is realizing that it is not meeting the goals of this program and is going to require and fund complete street training for all road engineers.

The states have a lot of control on how they implement the program and if people would only realize it, they could have a lot of control over what the state does with the money. Its your government people!

Happy Holidays to all!
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Old 12-25-07, 11:27 PM   #13
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Thanks for your reply, Chip. I have a feeling we're pretty far apart on the issues here, but you ask me honest questions so here goes with my answer

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChipSeal View Post
Andy, do you really think an act of congress will serve the interests of cyclists?

hysterical?
Maybe. What I was talking about here regarding the interests of cyclists was urban transport cyclists--not that I'm uninterested in recreational cycling of various kinds. Yes, only one congressman currently advertises that he rides a bike for transportation, but I don't think that means that congress can't or won't do anything that encourages urban cycling. I think that the point of this tax credit is to encourage more people to ride for transportation, and I think that congress could encourage that to happen. Yes, I think that local efforts and grassroots initiatives are probably more likely to encourage cycling, but I don't think that congressional support for cycling can hurt it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChipSeal View Post
How big would a tax break have to be to get, say, 1% of commuters to ride their bikes to work 25 times in one year? Should the tax break be given if only one day were traveled by bike? How would such a thing be enforced? If it is not "enforced", why wouldn't it simply be claimed by all?
Well, I admit to not knowing the details of the practicalities of this idea, but suffice it to say that tax credits do exist to encourage different types of behavior and that people who set these systems up know how to do so. Not perfectly, but they do work.

I think that reimbursement would be the easiest way to make something like this work. Receipts from a bike shop, registration at a company bike room, letter from employer, etc. Accountants are used to this kind of thing in other circumstances, so I don't think it would be too hard. Could there be fraud? Certainly, but that's not a reason to quash the idea right away, because any system can be subverted if necessary.


Quote:
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Why are you advocating a tax break for the rich?

I don't see how it's for the rich. It is for people who have jobs and make enough money to want to itemize deductions, but that doesn't mean they are necessarily an elite. It would include all bike messengers, for instance, because they're usually paid as private contractors. Whatever you say about the "immortal class" I can say I never met a rich one!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChipSeal View Post

Have you considered that your reaction to nuclear power is a bit, well, hysterical?

Hysterical? I've had a while to mull over Chernobyl, and I certainly don't think that it was the kind of thing that could only have happened in the Soviet system. I.e., I think there is a finite chance of something like that happening somewhere else--including here in the USA, and wherever it happens, wind blows around the world. It's a small chance, as I admitted, but it's a small chance of a very bad thing happening. Very bad. I don't know where you got the 4000 deaths figure for Chernobyl (perhaps you were being sarcastic and it went over my head) but several hundred were directly killed and there are many horrific birth defects, threat to agriculture, etc.

Also, although nukes are zero emissions, there is not a foolproof way to deal with the waste at this point. Want it in your back yard? Please send me a link to any good news about this issue! I don't hate technology or even big business as long as there is a government of the people that is more powerful than business, but I just don't trust the current technology or business system to safely dispose of nuclear waste.

Long winded I admit... but I had time on my hands due to Christmas.

Call that hysterical if you like. I just wanted to emphasize that Rep. Boehner was ridiculing a simple, safe, cheap solution to some of our energy needs (bicycling) while simultaneously advocating nuclear power which is an energy source that could easily turn around and bit us in the ass.
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Old 12-26-07, 07:54 AM   #14
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I don't find encouraging people to cycle unreasonable from a national perspective. I see a fair number of poor people cycling for transportation. Encouraging employers to support this type of activity would be fair. I'd put in a bike rack and work with my accountant to help out my employees. No biggie. All our employees currently cycle in a good deal of the time, anyway! But the parking isn't ideal. Not that we have many employees.

Although an aside, coal burning releases more radioactive materials in the US than nuclear plants ever thought of. Waste remains the main problem. The plants themselves are quite safe. Chernobyl was an inherently dangerous design without adequate physical or administrative safeguards. I'd worry more about chemical plants, hazmat through cities, gas pipelines, and the like. Plenty of those things are really worth a second look!
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Old 12-26-07, 11:37 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by CommuterRun View Post
A tax break for bicycle commuting, by itself, I could live without. But being that other forms of energy efficient/lower pollution commuting get breaks, why should cyclists not? The main thing is to me that the recognition, on the federal level, of bicycles being viable transportation, would be very, very good.
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Hear hear! (golf clap)
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Old 12-26-07, 12:26 PM   #16
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Money = respect in much of the world, especially at the level politicians are playing at. Recognition for cyclists as a commuter tax break would be great: I can buy a hybrid or other efficient car and get a tax break--why no tax break for motorcycles which consistently get better milage than cars, or bicycles? If gov't wants to encourage efficiency and is giving out tax breaks already, it is certainly discriminatory and almost nonsensical not to offer the same breaks to those who ride.

And how exactly would a tax break for bicyclists be a "tax break for the rich"? I have more of an issue that way with the tax break on SUVs and Light Trucks, which was put there to give independent contractors a break, but which has very much been utilized by those wealthy enough to afford such vehicles and accountants who can jigger their return to take advantage of this.
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Old 12-26-07, 01:09 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Dyson View Post
Thanks for your reply, Chip. I have a feeling we're pretty far apart on the issues here...

I don't know where you got the 4000 deaths figure for Chernobyl (perhaps you were being sarcastic and it went over my head) but several hundred were directly killed and there are many horrific birth defects, threat to agriculture, etc.
Quote:
"The 2005 report prepared by the Chernobyl Forum, led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and World Health Organization (WHO), attributed 56 direct deaths (47 accident workers, and nine children with thyroid cancer), and estimated that there may be 4,000 extra deaths due to cancer among the approximately 6.6 million most highly exposed."
Quote:
"In addition, the IAEA states that there has been no increase in the rate of birth defects or abnormalities, or solid cancers (such as lung cancer) corroborating UNSCEAR's assessments."
-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster

The reports of the Chernobyl disaster were highly exaggerated, which is typical for our media and the anti-nuclear hysterics. The danger posed by nuclear waste is likewise inflated.

These outlandish fears have real human costs. Food poisoning could be nearly eliminated through irradiation, but anti-nuke activists have successfully blocked it's widespread use with false and hysterical claims. Result: Unnecessary deaths and illness.

I agree we are far apart on the issues. I imagine that may be due to our understanding of the facts of the things we talk about. Ignorance is an expensive problem, and our popular media isn't dissipating it.
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Old 12-26-07, 01:17 PM   #18
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And how exactly would a tax break for bicyclists be a "tax break for the rich"?
It would be a tax break for your employer. In the class warfare language of the Democrat leaders, all employers are "rich".

Most regular Americans recognize this.

Last edited by ChipSeal; 12-26-07 at 01:20 PM. Reason: fix spelling errors
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Old 12-26-07, 03:17 PM   #19
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These outlandish fears have real human costs. Food poisoning could be nearly eliminated through irradiation, but anti-nuke activists have successfully blocked it's widespread use with false and hysterical claims. Result: Unnecessary deaths and illness.
Not true based on what I've read. Irridation has a chance of killing the bacteria by partially cooking the meat, but if it isn't completely successful in killing off every last bit of bacteria, the bacteria will come right back to it's pre-irridation level. Partially cooked meat isn't very appetizing looking either.

The real fix for the problem is better standards for cleanliness at meat packing facilities and on the farm, such as not feeding ground up cow to cows and not mixing cow feces in with the meat.

[Completely off topic post, sorry. But if you want to read more about the topic, check out "Food Politics" by Marion Nestle ]
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Old 12-26-07, 06:47 PM   #20
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FWIW I really do not trust the government with nuclear power:
http://www.animatedsoftware.com/envi.../nukelist1.htm
http://archive.greenpeace.org/comms/.../calendar.html

I also believe that cycling can achieve near or greater modal share then mass transit during nice weather far cheaper then what it takes to support mass transit.
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Old 12-27-07, 06:35 AM   #21
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I am glad that you pointed out the dangers of building nuclear power plants designed and built by Soviet engineers! We wouldn't want another 4000 people killed like there were in the Chernobyl disaster!

Have you considered that your reaction to nuclear power is a bit, well, hysterical?
Ugh it's clear evidence that people are too scared to look at facts when they make claims like you pointed out, if anything Three Mile Island is an example of a horrible reaction plan gone completely right, with 100% containment. Since then reaction plans and reactor resigns are WAY safer, and whats worse, all we have are AGING nuclear power plants now, thats real safe.

Anyway, anyone anti-nuclear is generally anti-brains, nuclear has been a heavy suggestion from the scientific community for a long time, and have had to beat around people who don't know any better for awhile, not only those that think they're bombs, but other that think incidents like Chernobyl are reasons for alarm.

/rant


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FWIW I really do not trust the government with nuclear power:
http://www.animatedsoftware.com/envi.../nukelist1.htm
http://archive.greenpeace.org/comms/.../calendar.html

I also believe that cycling can achieve near or greater modal share then mass transit during nice weather far cheaper then what it takes to support mass transit.
You do realize it takes a lot more than a bomb to crack open a nuclear reactor? Terrorist targets are simply myths, it would take an insane amount of force to crack one to cause a leak, much easier to just bomb the mall or something, at least that is in the scope of reality. Not to mention building a dirty bomb would be MUCH easier, and can be set off anywhere, including a downtown crowded city.



And no, as long as the USA has regulations on how Nuclear Powerplants are built, there will never be a Chernobyl incident in the USA, Chernobyl was a horrible design, with many MANY things going wrong with it, quite awhile ago, technology has improved, we are not the soviet union (which was trying to build power plants on the cheap because they were broke), and the ENTIRE WORLD has learned from the incident, it's not worth the risk of shaving a few million off the design specs.

I loved how my Astronomy teacher would go on and on about how the "public" needs to be educated, and stop making irrational decisions that are screwing over where we COULD be, the guy was a bloody genius, and an awesome teacher at that. It was also an extremely good point on why we took general education classes, at least in the science field, but it still seems like those that were uninterested were still walking away just as ignorant as before.


The hugest part that makes me smile is seeing those Global Warming fanatics yelling "we have science on our side" about global warming, but as soon as Science says it's time for Fission, and that we need to develop Fusion, they're screaming that Science wants to poison them, build nuclear bombs and get power off of them, and turn out planet into the sun.

I'm just asking for some bloody consistancy.

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Old 12-27-07, 12:17 PM   #22
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Ugh it's clear evidence that people are too scared to look at facts when they make claims like you pointed out, if anything Three Mile Island is an example of a horrible reaction plan gone completely right, with 100% containment. Since then reaction plans and reactor resigns are WAY safer, and whats worse, all we have are AGING nuclear power plants now, thats real safe.
You obviously have not lived in Harrisburg, PA, 100% containment, ya, right.

And ya they do have way safer designs now but nobody is willing to put any money down on unproven designs, so we are getting mostly the same old same old.
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Old 12-27-07, 01:22 PM   #23
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And we all know how reliable and accurate wikipedia is.
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Old 12-27-07, 02:20 PM   #24
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You obviously have not lived in Harrisburg, PA, 100% containment, ya, right.

And ya they do have way safer designs now but nobody is willing to put any money down on unproven designs, so we are getting mostly the same old same old.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_M...d_epidemiology
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The scientific community is largely agreed on the effects of the Three Mile Island accident. The consensus is that no member of the public was injured by the accident. "The average radiation dose to people living within ten miles of the plant was eight millirem, and no more than 100 millirem to any single individual. Eight millirem is about equal to a chest X-ray, and 100 millirem is about a third of the average background level of radiation received by US residents in a year.
They also removed the core, sure the facility is irradiated, but as for outside the plant, you can live without fear of radioactive contamination. Then again, as usual, maybe people think science is wrong again, no matter the numbers to back it up.

5,000 people were recommended by the governor to leave, not by any scientific manner obviously, over 140,000 left, nice to see them leave a life behind over a dose of radiation they receive every 4 months naturally.

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And we all know how reliable and accurate wikipedia is.
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061127-8296.html
http://science.slashdot.org/article....52207&from=rss

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Old 12-27-07, 07:46 PM   #25
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Funny about 3 mile island. I visited a relative with a cycle shop, then drove right by the plant during the accident. Didn't find out about it until that evening!

US plants are safe, if we'd build a next generation they'd be much safer. Coal plants aren't safe, leading to pollution and mining deaths.
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