Portland-area U.S. House Representative Earl Blumenauer will unveil his “Commuter Relief Act” at a luncheon on May 18th. The legislation would make it easier to bike and take transit to work by improving existing federal policy that prioritizes driving alone over other modes.
Calling it a “matter of equity,” Blumenauer has worked for years to make it easier for employers to encourage non single-occupancy motor-vehicle commutes. Back in October 2008, his bike commuter tax benefit finally passed. It was a good first step; but it is anemic (offering just $20 a month for bicycling) and unnecessarily opaque (read a FAQ about it here).
Now, Blumenauer is working on a host of new provisions that would reward existing bike commuters and, hopefully, encourage others to give it a try.
U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) is looking to introduce a new bill to Congress next week that would create a $2 billion grant program that would hasten investment in biking, walking, and other “active transportation options”.
Blumenauer’s office sent out a one pager and a PDF of the bill today, saying that the proposed legislation has already been vetted with national organizations and leaders, but that they are currently in negotiations to secure a Republican co-sponsor. The bill would look to increase mode share for biking and walking through “concentrated funding for active transportation networks”. “It is time for the federal government to support communities’ infrastructure investment,” the statement says.
The House Climate Bill that is set for a vote this Friday could help fill a transportation investment pot that states could put toward bike projects.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) would raise money from polluters that go over their allowed emissions levels, an amount estimated to be $70 billion by 2010. Earlier this week, the House agreed that 10% of that money would go directly to states to use for a variety of transportation projects — including “bicycle facilities”.