From my local paper:
Lewis Clark is hard-core.
A senior network specialist at TDS Telecom in Madison, Clark rides regularly to his office via bicycle -- even when the snow starts to fly.
"There are only two of us here who commute all winter," says Clark, who has a four-mile ride each way to the TDS headquarters on Junction Road.
No wonder Clark is excited over a little-known benefit for bicycle commuters tucked into the $700 billion federal bailout package.
Starting next month, employees who use bikes as their primary means of transportation to work will be eligible for a $20-a-month, tax-free reimbursement from their employers for bicycle-related expenses. In return, employers will be able to deduct the expense from their federal taxes.
Clark is already bugging his company's HR department to take a look into the reimbursement program.
"I'm very curious to see how this is accepted by the big companies, but it's sure something I would like to take advantage of," he says.
Bicycle advocates for years have been trying to get a commuting rebate measure passed in Washington. They finally succeeded in October when Congress rushed through the Wall Street bailout package and legislators squeezed in pet projects.
The League of American Bicyclists estimates the program will cost about $1 million a year due to the new employer write-off. That's not much money in the greater scheme of things but does add some legitimacy to bicycle commuting and gives it credibility as a transportation alternative.
The $20 rebate could be used to, among other things, purchase, store, maintain or repair bikes that are used for a substantial portion of an employee's commute. You wonder if hot coffee is a covered expense?