BLUMENAUER INTRODUCES BILL TO BENEFIT EMPLOYEES WHO BIKE TO WORK
Feb 15, 2005
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Congressman Mark Foley (R-Fla.) today introduced the Bike Commuter Act, legislation to allow employees who bike to work the same financial incentives that are available for parking and mass transit. The bill would change the Transportation Fringe Benefit of the tax code to include bike commuters.
“It's time to level the playing field for bicycle commuters,” said Blumenauer. “Bicycling is one of the cleanest, healthiest, most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly modes of transportation that exists today. People who bike to work should have the same financial incentives as those who use transit or participate in a qualified parking plan.”
Currently, employers may offer a Transportation Fringe Benefit to their employees for commuting to work. Employees who take advantage of this program may receive a tax exemption benefit totaling $200 for participating in qualified parking plans or $105 for transit and van-pool expenses. The Bike Commuter Act would extend these same Transportation Fringe Benefits to employees who choose to commute by bicycle.
According to the League of American Bicyclists nearly 500,000 cyclists regularly commute to work. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, bicycles are second only to cars as a preferred mode of transportation, further demonstrating their potential for commuter use. Many Americans own one or more bicycles, but limit their use to recreational purposes. In addition, since the adoption of ISTEA in 1991, federal spending on bicycle facilities and infrastructure has increased dramatically, improving the bicycling environment in a variety of communities.
“Across the country people are working to create more livable communities that include reduced traffic congestion, improved air quality, increase neighborhood safety and decreased petroleum dependence” said Blumenauer. “The federal government should do its part to support these goals by providing transportation benefits to people who choose to commute in a healthy, environmental, and neighborhood-friendly fashion.”
Blumenauer, founder of the Congressional Bike Caucus, introduced his bill in anticipation of the upcoming “Bike Week on Capitol Hill.” Bicycling advocates from across the country are holding a Bike Summit in Washington, DC from March 16-18, focusing on federal policy and advocacy. Blumenauer also invited Members of Congress to re-join the Bike Caucus, which had 164 members from both parties last Congress, to show their support for bicycling.