RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS PA—Unless you’re a cycling aficionado or extremely obsessed with federal legislation, you may not have noticed the passage of the Bicycling Commuter Act in the economic stimulus bill passed in late 2008. But it’s there—and it’s one more reason to consider a cycling commute.
THE DETAILS: The act, which members of the Congressional Bike Caucus have been trying to pass for seven years, allows employers to provide their bike-commuting employees with an additional $20 of pretax income every month to help pay for things like bike gear, maintenance, and clothing. True, bike commuters aren’t getting anywhere near the benefits already granted to public-transit and car commuters—they receive $120 and $230 respectively to reimburse costs related to bus or train fares and parking. But it’s a start, says Emily Furia, senior editor of Rodale's Bicycling magazine. “You could easily spend more than $20 a month on your bike,” she says, “but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.” The rebate goes into effect for tax year 2009; ask your employer about participating.
WHAT IT MEANS: Despite the seemingly low rebate, that extra incentive for biking to work may inspire you to leave the car at home a few days a week, saving on gas expenses and, possibly, cutting down on your auto insurance bill. And maybe you can cancel that gym membership you never use, since bike commuting adds built-in exercise to your day.
If you’re interested to switching to two-wheel commute, here are some tips from the editors of Bicycling magazine: