Reminder: Tax Credit for Bike Commuters

Most of us will begin the 2009 work year tomorrow. For those of you who already commute by bike, you probably don’t need anyone to remind you of the government-backed allowance from your employer to spend on bike stuff. Like me, you marked it on your calendar three months ago. But for those of you already struggling to keep with your New Year’s resolutions to exercise more, get in shape, lose weight, be kinder to the environment, and so on, here’s another great incentive.

“Starting in January, workers who use two-wheelers as their primary transportation mode to get to and from work will be eligible for a $20-a-month, tax-free reimbursement from their employers for bicycle-related expenses. In return, employers will be able to deduct the expense from their federal taxes.”

The Bicycle Commuter Act is a lovely little morsel of pork neatly tucked inside the $700 billion bailout bill passed by congress back in October. I guess one could argue that the potential riding a bike has to improve one’s disposition (and trim fat) offsets or makes more bearable the sting of seeing our tax dollars managed so deftly.

Ride. Cash in. And do your part to see that government spending accomplishes something both substantial and meaningful.

Wait. Go one better. Since this will be $240 extra for you, make it a New Year’s resolution to spend it only at a local bike shop. Don’t worry solely about getting the best price or the most for your money. Invest this monthly bonus check locally and support your community. If the point of this bailout was to curb the recession, then let’s see to it that small, independently owned businesses tied to the bicycling industry get the help they need to stay afloat.

[Ed. note: The Montreal Gazette’s “On Two Wheels” column published an interesting response to the aforementioned NYTimes article suggesting that bike shops will continue to grow in importance even if they are not booming at the levels witnessed this past summer.]

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