Bike riders deserve a break. (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)
Back in November there was buzz that Portland congressman Earl Blumenauer might be named to lead the U.S. Department of Transportation under President Joe Biden. That didn’t happen, but it doesn’t mean the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Bike Caucus will be on the sidelines of U.S. transportation policy.[Read more…]
There is no more staunch defender of the Bicycle Commuter Tax Benefit, a current federal provision that allows people to exclude (a whopping) $20 a month from taxable income for “expenses related to regular bicycle commuting.”
So when emerged that the Senate GOP’s tax plan would kill it, while retaining a $255 monthly commute benefit for parking cars, we knew Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer would have something to say about it. After all, he authored the current benefit and championed its passage in 2008. To Blumenauer, it’s a simple matter of equity. [Read more…]
When the Bike Commuter Benefit Act passed back in October, it was somewhat of a shallow victory for advocates who had pushed for its passage for seven long years. Not only did it pass as a ploy to build support for the controversial financial bailout bill, the “benefit” it provides is small ($20 per month compared to $230 for parking a car and $120 a month for taking transit), and the implementation has been the source of massive confusion to HR people across the country. Worse yet, the Bike Commuter Benefit Act included language that required bike riding employees to choose between the bike benefit or the transit benefit. [Read more…]
I’ve gotten many emails over the past few weeks wondering why I haven’t covered the Bike Commute Tax Benefit that became law on January 1.
One reason is that I’m just not all that enthused about it; and it turns out I’m not the only one.
After 7 years of effort by advocates and bike-friendly politicians, the bike commuter benefit was ushered through as a way to curry favor and votes for passage of the controversial, $700 billion financial bailout package. To make matters worse, the benefit is only good for $20 per month (a pittance compared to the benefit for driving a car), you can’t get it if you also receive the transit benefit, and to add insult to injury, no one seems to be able to figure out exactly how to implement it. [Read more…]
Blumenauer at the unveiling of his Gas Price Relief Act, one of many pieces of legislation that included a bike commuter tax break over the years. (Photo: J. Maus)
What a long, strange trip it’s been for Congressman Earl Blumenauer and his Bike Commuter Act.
The House Democrat is a former City Commissioner of Transportation in Portland (1987-96) and he was at the helm during Portland’s Golden Age of biking — a time when we laid down much of our bikeway network infrastructure that is now the envy of many cities.
Blumenauer carried his commitment to biking into the halls of Congress and has worked the system relentlessly to pass bike-friendly legislation like the bike commuter tax benefit. Calling it a “matter of equity”, his idea is simple; give bike commuters the same respect and recognition in the tax code already given to folks that drive and take public transit.[Read more…]
[See below for updates: Hint, Blumenauer is saying he won’t support the bailout package.]
“The (bailout) bill now includes a… tax benefit for bicycle commuting sought by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, also a “no” vote on Monday.” — from an article in the Baltimore Sun
Hoping to garner votes from House members who previously voted “no” on the $700 billion financial bailout package, the U.S. Senate has added several sweeteners to the bill (now known as the “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008”).
“I think it’s the best chance the Bike Commuter Act has had so far in the Senate.” — Katie Drennan, a legislative assistant for Congressman Earl Blumenauer
For the fourth time this session, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that includes a tax benefit people who ride their bikes to work.
The Bike Commuter Act has taken many forms and has been a part of several different pieces of legislation over the years. Amazingly, even though the legislation seeks only to offer the same benefits to those who bike to work as those who drive or take transit, it has been ridiculed (remember Patrick McHenry?) and has lacked support for being too expensive (that’s what Oregon Senator Gordon Smith thought in May 2006) among other things. [Read more…]
The resolution — which was introduced by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) back in February — recognizes the importance of bicycling to “enriching the nation’s health, reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, and improving America’s economic vitality and overall quality of life.”[Read more…]