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Action alert: Support the Bicycle Commuter Act

Posted by on May 11th, 2006 at 2:46 pm

If you think bicycle commuters deserve the same tax benefits from employers that already exist for drivers and transit users now is the time to make your voice heard. I just got this urgent call to action from Jessica Roberts at the BTA.

There is a bill in Congress right now that would benefit cyclists around the state (and nation).

Senator Wyden (with nudging from the BTA and other bike leaders) introduced a Senate version of Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s bill to provide tax benefits to bicycle commuters (as already exists for transit passes and car parking).

Now we want Gordon Smith, Oregon’s other senator, to get on the wagon (er, the saddle?) too and co-sponsor this great bill.

Senator Smith doesn’t want to support it because he feels the costs are too high. We disagree and feel it’s only fair to extend the same benefits that drivers and transit users receive to bicycling, a healthy and emissions-free vehicle and a great way for people to combat rising gas prices.

Please call Senator Smith today and encourage him to cosponsor and support the Bicycle Commuters Benefits Act, S. 2635. You can reach him at (202) 224.3753 (or find the closest state office here).

Be sure to mention you’re a constituent, who else you may represent (a business or organization), and why you support the Act.

See this post on the BTA Blog for more info.

It’s sad we even have to advocate for something like this. Regardless, this needs to happen and it’s much more likely to if you pick up the phone and dial (202) 224-3753.

I just tried to leave a message and I couldn’t…his voice mailbox is full! Please keep the number handy and try until you get through.

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Comments
  • Matt P. May 12, 2006 at 10:15 am

    I just called and got a staffer, who said he’d deliver the message to Senator Smith. So, everyone keep trying!

    It’s actually kind of cool to speak to a real person instead of a machine for once.

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  • Dabby May 12, 2006 at 12:12 pm

    I believe what we really need to support here is a tax break for commutters, full time riders, etc. I have heard that this is based through the actual employers getting breaks for the employees riding to work. I see this as being good in a very small way, yet leaving out those who really and truly deserve the tax breaks.
    The majority of commutters, and people like me who bicycle for a lving, would never be afected by tax breaks such as this, for in reality the number of companies who would choose to pursue such a thing will be low.
    When are we going to have acheivable, and already well desrved tax breaks for the individual cyclist?
    Why has this not already happened?
    Why is the effort going on now corporation based, instead of how it should be?
    I cannot even see this as a stepping stone to individual cycling tax breaks.
    I see this as a easy out fix in congress to make something truely ineffective happen, and at the same time barely appeasing the cycling community.
    This will not lead to more and better tax breaks for cyclists
    Well, if you ask 9 out of ten cyclists in 4 years wether they have recieved any benefit from employer related, commutter tax write – offs, the answer will be either a astounding NO,
    Or, “Wait, you mean they could be giving me a tax break if they wanted?”
    Followed by screaming and cursin, I imagine.
    Bringing It ‘Round the Turkey, and Into Your Living Room,
    Dabby McCrashalot

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  • Matt P. May 12, 2006 at 9:27 pm

    You make a number of really good points, Dabby. I’m lucky – the only perk my position at work gives me is free parking (or a Tri-Met pass). I took the Tri-Met pass, but since the pass is only $72 per month and a parking spot would be $140 per month, I talked my work into paying for my bike locker from PDOT. So, I guess that makes be the other 1 out of 10.

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  • Matt P. May 12, 2006 at 9:29 pm

    One other note: Port of Portland employees have indoor secure bike parking with keyed entry, and their own shower facilities – how cool is that? (wish I was so lucky)

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  • John C. Ratliff June 13, 2007 at 10:10 pm

    Dear Senator Avakian and Senator Kruse

    As my Senator here in Beaverton, it has just come to my attention that there is a very important bill coming up in the Senate, the \”Vulnerable Users Bill, HB3314A.\” As a member of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, as a bicycle commuter who cycles to work 4 days a week, and as a bicyclist who has twice on commutes been hit by vehicles, I urge you to vote \”Yes\” on this bill.

    Let me explain my support for this bill. Oregon traffic has become very bad, especially in Beaverton. Both of the times I was hit by a vehicle were on Fridays, and so I don\’t even try riding on Fridays anymore. Drivers are impatient, and this impatience is encouraged by TV ads and our general driving culture. By requiring drivers who seriously injure or kill cyclists or other vulnerable users of the roadway to pay $12,500, and have their license suspended for one year, or to complete 100 to 200 hours of community service and pass a special driver education course, there would be accountability built into the system. Currently, there is no accountability, even if a cyclist or pedestrian is killed by outrageous behavior. Right now, we in Washington County just lost a bicyclist to a driver who ran into him as he was making a legal left turn from one rural road to another, and the driver attempted to pass in a no-pass zone. If you are interested, here are two stories about the crash:

    http://blog.oregonlive.com/breakingnews/2007/06/aloha_bicyclist_dies_after_bei.html#comments

    http://www.portlandvelo.net/

    Senator Avakian, I am a Certified Safety Professional with 28 years in the field. When we work on controls in the workplace, we ensure that all the workers are given the responsibility to act in a safe and healthful manner, the authority to act, and accountability for their actions (both positive and negative). It should work the same on the roadway for all users of the road. Under HB3314A, both drivers and cyclists would have accountability. There was a case in Corvallis where a cyclist hit and killed a pedestrian, and that person would come under this act too if it were to pass.

    For over 18 years I was a resident of Roseburg, in Douglas County. The Douglas County area has some of the finest cycling areas in the State of Oregon, and my family took advantage of them. One evening, we were at a function for Mercy Medical Center, where my wife worked. An acquaintance began talking about how he would purposely try to \”clip\” cyclists who were using the roadway with his pickup truck. He did not like cyclists, and was showing them how he felt. We pointed out that our family was part of those people who cycled in Douglas County, but it made no difference to him. I was recently at a conference in Philadelphia, and met a researcher from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), who was also a bicyclist. She related another incident in a different state where her bicycling partner was run off the road by a pickup. This is happening across this nation, and this belligerent culture toward bicyclist must stop. The Vulnerable Users Bill is one way to at least have drivers take notice that there will be some accountability for their driving behavior, and bicyclists too.

    The Tuesday, June 12th, 2007 Editorial Page of the Oregonian newspaper had an ironic headline for an editorial. \”A twisted view of nature.\” \”If pigeon hobbyists are convicted of killing raptors, tough sentences would deter similar crimes.\” The irony of this is that these hobbyists may get more punishment than a driver who kills a bicyclist, or a bicylist who kills a pedestrian.

    I hope that you will take the Vulnerable Users Bill, HB3314A, seriously, and vote in favor of it.

    Thank you.

    Respectfully,

    John C. Ratliff
    Certified Safety Professional

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