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Old 12-12-07, 01:06 PM   #1
littlewaywelt
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parking subsidy but no bike walk benefit

I'm curious...how many of you work for companies that include a subsidy for your coworkers that drive?, metro or mass transit, but don't offer anything for bike commuters.

My org offers ~900/year for parking or mass transit but nothing for bikes, which I'm trying to correct.

Anyone successful in getting a cycling benefit put in place when a driver/mass transit subsidy is in place?
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Old 12-12-07, 01:13 PM   #2
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My company pays for peoples' bus passes.
I get an 'attaboy' and a weird looks when it's cold and raining because I ride a bike.

I also don't care, unless they're willing to reimburse me the amount it would cost to take the bus: $760.00/year could buy me a lot of bike parts and beer.
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Old 12-12-07, 01:15 PM   #3
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I'm curious...how many of you work for companies that include a subsidy for your coworkers that drive?, metro or mass transit, but don't offer anything for bike commuters.

My org offers ~900/year for parking or mass transit but nothing for bikes, which I'm trying to correct.

Anyone successful in getting a cycling benefit put in place when a driver/mass transit subsidy is in place?
We have the pre-tax option for buying mass transit passes. I've encountered that at a number of places I've worked and tried to figure out how to take advantage of it for biking but they all contract the service out They have a website that you go to and all it lets you do is buy passes. I'm not 100% but I would imagine that they get the tax break (purchase with pre-tax dollars, reduce your tax burden) through one of the state or federal programs aimed at increasing mass transit use. Guess it's time to target those subsidies again...
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Old 12-12-07, 01:22 PM   #4
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What kind of benefit are you looking for? It sounds like the benefits they are giving are to partially defray the costs associated with people's chosen method of transportation. My employer does not offer anything to drivers, but does offer free bus passes and has other small incentives for alternative forms of commuting (like you can get taxi fare in an emergency if you walked or biked in). My main benefit is that the bike racks are right up against the building and everyone else parks at best across the street.
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Old 12-12-07, 01:32 PM   #5
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Well it may be fantasy land, but I'm looking for equal treatment. We subsidize ppl's parking and mass transit and not equally. VPs get expensive in bldg spots, everyone else gets the same subsidy to go towards parking in a nearby public garage or to go towards mass transit. I don't see why I shouldn't get that same benefit since I have commuting expenses too. That their commute is more expensive is their choice.

The really ironic thing is that I work for a conservation org and we don't have any policies in place to serve as incentives to encourage ppl to commit to greener practices.
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Old 12-12-07, 01:54 PM   #6
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The really ironic thing is that I work for a conservation org and we don't have any policies in place to serve as incentives to encourage ppl to commit to greener practices.
That's not the first time I've heard something like that. It's a shame.
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Old 12-12-07, 02:02 PM   #7
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I was able to pre-tax my bike locker parking fee for mass transit. It was oh 20 bucks a year but it was the principle of it!
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Old 12-12-07, 02:19 PM   #8
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It's all about the tax code

It's all about the tax code.

Section 132(f) of the tax code allows employers to provide "qualified transportation fringes" that are excluded from the employees taxable income. These do not include bicycles but do include:
  • A ride in a commuter highway vehicle between the employee's home and work place. The vehicle must seat at least 6 adults (excluding the driver) and the expectation must exist that at least 80% of the vehicle's mileage will be for transporting employees between home and work. Employees must occupy at least one-half of the seats, not including the driver.
  • A transit pass. A pass for purposes of this exclusion is any mass transit pass, token, farecard, or voucher entitling a person to ride free or at a reduced rate on a mass transit system or in a commuter highway vehicle as defined previously
  • Qualified parking. This is parking that the employer provides to employees on or near the employer's business premises. It also includes parking on or near the location from which employees commute to work using mass transit, commuter highway vehicles, carpools or any other means.
See http://www.irs.gov/irm/part4/ch23s06.html#d0e344414.

Periodically (annually?), there is an attempt to amend the tax code to add bicycling benefits. The current version is the "Bicycle Commuters Benefits Act of 2007" (S.858 & H.R.1498) that would add the following as a "qualified transportation fringe":
(F) BICYCLE COMMUTING ALLOWANCE- The term `bicycle commuting allowance' means an amount provided to an employee for transportation on a bicycle if such transportation is in connection with travel between the employee's residence and place of employment.
See http://blumenauer.house.gov/issues/I...&SubIssueID=25 and http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:s.00858: or http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:HR01498:
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Old 12-12-07, 02:53 PM   #9
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I work for a government entity that subsidizes every mode except human powered. But they sure do pay a lot of lip service!
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Old 12-12-07, 03:09 PM   #10
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That their commute is more expensive is their choice.
True, but that your commute is cheaper is yours.

The way an accountant is going to see it is that they're reimbursing expenses. Correct or not, they're likely to assume that you don't have any direct expenses, and you don't really... not in the sense that bus or parking passes are an expense. Yes, you have wear on the bike, but cars have wear and they're not reimbursing that.
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Old 12-12-07, 03:22 PM   #11
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[*]Qualified parking. This is parking that the employer provides to employees on or near the employer's business premises. It also includes parking on or near the location from which employees commute to work using mass transit, commuter highway vehicles, carpools or any other means.
Well there you go. They should be paying for a bike locker.

Nobody gets any money for transit here. We're expected to find a way to get to work. But then again, we're in an ex-farmer's field and we have hundreds of parking spaces, probably 100 more than we need at least, and no other buildings for a mile.
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Old 12-12-07, 04:01 PM   #12
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These mass transit subsidies are just lip service that some companies provide to give them a good image. We've had these for years, but no one uses them other than the people that took the bus anyway.

It is pretty hard to convince most people to give up their cars.
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Old 12-12-07, 04:15 PM   #13
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So try to get them to see it as incentives to increase health of employees, which does have measurable effects.

Does anyone have examples of a GOOD policy anywhere? It's one thing to say "There should be a policy to do this.." but what we really need is "It would be good if they adopted a policy modelled after ______, which you can view at ___.___.___/___, which does do this.." or at least "It would be good if they adopted the following detailed policy.."
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Old 12-12-07, 05:09 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by littlewaywelt View Post
Well it may be fantasy land, but I'm looking for equal treatment. We subsidize ppl's parking and mass transit and not equally. VPs get expensive in bldg spots, everyone else gets the same subsidy to go towards parking in a nearby public garage or to go towards mass transit. I don't see why I shouldn't get that same benefit since I have commuting expenses too. That their commute is more expensive is their choice.

The really ironic thing is that I work for a conservation org and we don't have any policies in place to serve as incentives to encourage ppl to commit to greener practices.
Life ain't fair. Get used to it. Bicycle commuters are a fringe group. Those policies are designed for the masses.

I don't think the right incentives will help (even though I'd love them). There's a place nearby me that provides it all -- showers, indoor lockers, you name it. The facility is almost entirely unused. All the same, they won't let me use it. Near the place I used to work, same schtick. Unused showers and lockers. Meanwhile, I got to pay over $700/yr so I could shower off at a health club and rent a place to park my bike.
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Old 12-12-07, 05:14 PM   #15
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The company I work for now provides what they call a cafeteria plan. You can get up to $100 per month in any combination of parking reimbursement, bus pass, or gym membership. As it happens, the bus pass and gym membership together are less than the $100, so I get both of those. To date, I've never ridden the bus, but I figure that if I get sick or injured, I'll have the option.

The company I worked for before this one participated in something called the Commuter Trip Reduction Plan, which was really cool. If I rode every weekday in a month, I got checks worth $50 that could be spent at a number of different places, including REI. I used the proceeds from that plan to buy a bunch of gear I never would have bought otherwise.
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Old 12-12-07, 05:33 PM   #16
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The company I worked for before this one participated in something called the Commuter Trip Reduction Plan, which was really cool. If I rode every weekday in a month, I got checks worth $50 that could be spent at a number of different places, including REI. I used the proceeds from that plan to buy a bunch of gear I never would have bought otherwise.
That would be a great plan. I would sign up immediately.
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Old 12-12-07, 06:24 PM   #17
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As pointed out, the pre-tax benefits is a government regulated thing. By and large, they don't reimburse the acquisition of property; only incidentals like fuel and parking (note they don't reimburse personal car purchases or oil changes either).

Since there is no fuel and parking is generally free, I think bikers should get a pre-tax plan that covers lunch. I'd be good with that. Hell, I'm having trouble maintaining my weight as it is, I could use some subsidized greasy food.
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Old 12-13-07, 02:42 PM   #18
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It's all about the tax code.

Section 132(f) of the tax code allows employers to provide "qualified transportation fringes" that are excluded from the employees taxable income. These do not include bicycles but do include:

....
Thanks for putting that up. I knew it was out there somewhere but was too lazy to pull it up.
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Old 12-13-07, 03:17 PM   #19
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Since there is no fuel and parking is generally free, I think bikers should get a pre-tax plan that covers lunch. I'd be good with that. Hell, I'm having trouble maintaining my weight as it is, I could use some subsidized greasy food.
Lunch. Now that's something I could get behind.
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Old 12-13-07, 03:36 PM   #20
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Yes but that tax code was changed last week in the House in the energy bill. Too bad the Senate sent it back for more compromises.

Viewing it as an expense is one thing, but in the end the reality is that companies are unequally subsidizing their employees modes of transit. Heck, if I could get back all of my bike related expenses each year, that would be a great start.

The commuter trip reduction thing is cool, too.

While our VP of finance will no doubt be against it, I'm certain that our CEO will be for it. I just need argue the point effectively.
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Old 12-13-07, 04:43 PM   #21
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I have been places where if you take alternate means to get to work the local government issues a few coupons a year good for an emergency ride in a taxi. Kid hurt at school, fire at home, . . . You get them in advance. So quietly sell them if you do not need them. If you can get issued a bus pass, get it, then sell it discreetly to some commuter at the local transit mall.
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Old 12-13-07, 08:43 PM   #22
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I have been places where if you take alternate means to get to work the local government issues a few coupons a year good for an emergency ride in a taxi. Kid hurt at school, fire at home, . . . You get them in advance. So quietly sell them if you do not need them. If you can get issued a bus pass, get it, then sell it discreetly to some commuter at the local transit mall.
Under the transit benefit, you don't get "issued a bus pass", you buy them with pre-tax dollars. So the average savings on a $60 dollar farecard is only $20, assuming you have a 30% tax burden (and you have to have a nice family income to have that kind of burden...)
Of course you have to sell them at a discount, so how much are you actually making? not much, not worth the effort....

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Old 12-14-07, 08:50 AM   #23
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My company offers incentives for cycling, walking, mass transit, or car pooling. Also, the neighborhood improvement organization offers additional incentives for walking, cycling, or car pooling.

So far, me and a couple of other guys have made a mint riding our bikes to work.

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Old 12-14-07, 09:37 AM   #24
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If the transit pass is transferable, look into reselling it.
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Old 12-14-07, 10:26 AM   #25
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If you haven't already, you should check out the UK's scheme for bike deductions: http://www.cyclescheme.co.uk/

Such a thing ought to be possible in the US.
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