- A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-OR, Vern Buchanan, R-FL, and Ayanna Pressley, D-MA, would reinstate and modify the bicycle commuter tax benefit.
- The legislation, entitled the “Bicycle Commuter Act,” would change the benefit’s structure to make it pre-tax, like for parking and transit benefits; would clarify that bike-share and electric bike-share options are eligible for the benefit; and would permit the bicycle benefit to be used with parking and transit benefits. The benefit was repealed in 2017 under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
- “Communities of all sizes are demanding better transportation options to get to work and it is past time that the federal government provides the flexibility and incentives needed to encourage bike community,” Blumenauer said in a statement. “We must offer more transportation choices that are better for the environment, cheaper for families and incentivize burning calories, not carbon.”
We must offer more transportation choices that are better for the environment, cheaper for families and incentivize burning calories, not carbon.— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) March 5, 2019
That’s why I worked with @VernBuchanan & @RepPressley to introduce a bill that restores & improves the bicycle commuter tax benefit.
This bill has already received the support of a wide array of groups including The League of American Bicyclists, the New York City Department of Transportation, People for Bikes and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, in part for the way it should help benefit the environment. With troubling findings from the federal government about the potentially devastating effects of climate change, cities are keen to mitigate those impacts, especially in the transportation sector, as it generates a large percentage of carbon emissions in urban areas.
Encouraging people to get out of their cars is also key for cities, as they battle with congestion on their streets. U.S. cities such as Los Angeles and New York are among the most congested and have floated congestion pricing as a way to discourage people from driving in their downtown cores. Reinstating this tax break for bicycling could be another way to encourage people to do something different to get to work rather than only discouraging them from driving.
It is also significant that this bipartisan legislation recognizes bike-share options for the first time in this tax break. Docked bike-share company Motivate has looked to expand its offerings for city residents since being acquired by Lyft last year, while dockless companies also present themselves as an option for people to get to and from work. Using the bicycle benefit in conjunction with the transit benefit could make dockless bikes and scooters even more attractive for train and bus riders, as it could thus provide another way to get to and from a transit stop and receive a benefit.
Pressley said encouraging people to get out of their cars and onto different modes of transportation is an “equity and public health issue.”
“As representatives of the people, it is our responsibility to invest in transit options like biking that offer flexible and efficient means for everyday travel, recreation, and commuting for all communities,” she continued. “We must restore our commitment to clean forms of mass transit.”