Sunday, October 5, 2008

The good news? Bicycle Commuter Act becomes law

The good news? Hard to believe there is any these days.

Well, the Bicycle Commuter Act has finally been passed into law, riding on the coattails of the Wall St. Bailout Bill ! Scroll down to Sec. 211. A detailed FAQ on the nuts and bolts of implementation is available at the League's web site.

I've sent an email to LANL Benefits asking how they will implement the law. They are working on it. Stay tuned.

Kudos to the League of American Bicylists as well as Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). Quoting League of American Bicyclists Exec. Dir. Andy Clarke in a LAB email: “Bicycle commuters will now be extended similar benefits to people who take transit and drive to work – it’s an equitable and sensible incentive to encourage greater energy independence, improve air quality and health, and even help tackle climate change. Thanks to everyone who has helped reach this milestone, especially Walter Finch and Mele Williams, our government relations staff over the years who have worked tirelessly with Congressman Blumenauer, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and many others in Congress.”

The bad news is that the Bicycle Commuter Act was one of the many sideshows, albeit some like this one laudable, attached to the hastily passed and so far ineffectual 700 billion dollar Wall Street bailout. With the stock market having dropped like a gravity bomb and long term trouble ahead, I hope we have enough money left in this country when the smoke clears to keep the bike shops in business. Not to mention to spend on a few other essentials such as schools, roads, beer, and libraries.

Bicycling to work has several economic advantages to the U.S. These include not sending 80 or more bucks we don't even have overseas for every barrel of dino juice we import. (We might all be on bikes if we can't afford gasoline due to high unemployment or if the Chinese lose confidence in lending us the money we use to buy oil from Saudi Arabia.) Aside from saving money on gasoline, riding a bike improves one's health, thus potentially saving on the nation's staggering health care costs arising from obesity, poor cardiovascular health, and Type II diabetes. It also cuts down on carbon emissions. Finally, we would not need such huge, expensive roads such as the Diamond Superhighway if we left a few of those single-occupant cars and trucks out of the game.

There is no silver bullet for our national malaise. Just a lot of normal bullets we are currently not using. Americans need to step up to the plate and become self-confident as individuals and as a nation. Get on your bike.

Thanks and a tip of the bike cap to Patrick O'Grady for the photo, which summarizes many of the public's views of the bailout: a seemingly necessary but bad tasting and undoubtedly insufficient attempt to cure what ails us.


Neale said...

Reading this it sounds like they want your employer to reimburse you, and then your employer gets money. Or something. But I have never read a bill before and I may be totally off. Has anybody been able to locate some analysis of this?

Neale said...

found it. So we have to convince our employers to reimburse us for biking expenses, and the IRS won't tax it. It's a benifit to employers who reimburse their employees, similar to existing incentives for free parking and mass transit passes.

I'll put $5 on LANB doing this before LANL does.

Khal said...

I sent an email to Human Resources at LANL asking how they plan to implement this new law.