Category: law

Bike commuter benefit now law!

President Bush signed the Bicycle Commuter Benefits Act into law today.

Congressman Blumenauer of Oregon included a bike commuter benefit provision in HR1424, the $700 billion Wall Street bailout package that passed the house today and was signed by President Bush shortly afterward.

Park Blvd bike commuter

“We are delighted that the bicycle commuter benefits act has passed after a lengthy and persistent campaign spearheaded by Congressman Blumenauer (D-OR),” said League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke. “Bicycle commuters will now be extended similar benefits to people who take transit and drive to work – it’s an equitable and sensible incentive to encourage greater energy independence, improve air quality and health, and even help tackle climate change. Thanks to everyone who has helped reach this milestone, especially Walter Finch and Mele Williams, our government relations staff over the years who have worked tirelessly with Congressman Blumenauer, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and many others in Congress.”

The benefit — up to $20 per month — begins with the new year in 2009. Employers may reimburse employees, tax free, for “reasonable” expenses related to their bike commute, including equipment purchases, bike purchases, repairs, and storage if the bicycle is used as a “substantial part” of the commuter’s trip to work for the month. If you already receive another commuter tax-free fringe benefit (like a Commuter Check or EcoPass), you don’t qualify, so multimodal commuters are out of luck.


(a) In General- Paragraph (1) of section 132(f) is amended by adding at the end the following: ‘(D) Any qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement.’.

(b) Limitation on Exclusion- Paragraph (2) of section 132(f) is amended by striking ‘and’ at the end of subparagraph (A), by striking the period at the end of subparagraph (B) and inserting ‘, and’, and by adding at the end the following new subparagraph: ‘(C) the applicable annual limitation in the case of any qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement.’.

(c) Definitions- Paragraph (5) of section 132(f) is amended by adding at the end the following:


      ‘(i) QUALIFIED BICYCLE COMMUTING REIMBURSEMENT- The term ‘qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement’ means, with respect to any calendar year, any employer reimbursement during the 15-month period beginning with the first day of such calendar year for reasonable expenses incurred by the employee during such calendar year for the purchase of a bicycle and bicycle improvements, repair, and storage, if such bicycle is regularly used for travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment.
      ‘(ii) APPLICABLE ANNUAL LIMITATION- The term ‘applicable annual limitation’ means, with respect to any employee for any calendar year, the product of $20 multiplied by the number of qualified bicycle commuting months during such year.
      ‘(iii) QUALIFIED BICYCLE COMMUTING MONTH- The term ‘qualified bicycle commuting month’ means, with respect to any employee, any month during which such employee–
      ‘(I) regularly uses the bicycle for a substantial portion of the travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment, and
      ‘(II) does not receive any benefit described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of paragraph (1).’.

(d) Constructive Receipt of Benefit- Paragraph (4) of section 132(f) is amended by inserting ‘(other than a qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement)’ after ‘qualified transportation fringe’.

(e) Effective Date- The amendments made by this section shall apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2008.

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Elsewhere: RideThisBike, Bicycle.Net, Streetsblog, Biking Bis, Bike Portland, Bicycle Diaries, Trek, Rush Limbaugh. Philly Bike News does a cost analysis.

Video: Snowplow within inches of cyclist

Jeff routinely runs video while riding his bike through Milwaukee. He recorded this dramatic brush with a city snow plow that passed within inches of him.

The story doesn’t end there, though. He reported the incident to the police and showed them the video evidence. The police reaction: They wanted to know why he had a video camera on his bike.

Jeff also took it to the public works people and even to the city attorney. The reaction all around was lectures on why Jeff shouldn’t ride a bike in Milwaukee.

Cycling lawyer Bob Mionske discusses Jeff’s case in much greater detail in his Legally Speaking column. See also Jeff’s Bike Blog. Go Jeff!

New bicycle laws for 2008

Happy New Year, all! Here’s an overview of new laws that take effect this effect that may impact bicyclists.

A new DUI law mandates 10 days of jail time and drivers license suspension for a first time offender.

California: The legal requirement for night cyclists to use a headlight, rear reflector and side reflectors has been clarified to include cyclists on on sidewalks and paths. California law has also been updated to allow the use of reflective ankle straps or reflective shoes instead of reflective pedals.

A new three-foot passing law takes effect January 1. Motorists will be required to give at least three feet of room when passing a cyclist.

New Mexico:
Mandatory helmet law comes into effect for children and teens 17 years of age and younger.

Oregon: The Vulnerable Roadway Users law enhances the penalties against motorists who injure or kill pedestrians and cyclists.

Blogging bicycle lawyer

A recent comment from CycleDog directed me to the blog of bicycle lawyer Erik Ryberg in Tuscon, Arizona. According to his Blogger profile, “Erik Ryberg is a lawyer whose caseload includes many bicycle accidents, injuries, and assaults on bicyclists in Tucson and elsewhere in Arizona. I also represent Arizona bicyclists in criminal cases and traffic infractions, usually at a very reduced rate or, if your case particularly interests me and involves bicycle advocacy, even free. If you are a cyclist and are the victim of assault or if you have been injured in an accident or arrested or cited for a violation involving a bicycle, please do not hesitate to call us. Consultations are always free!”

Check out the bicycle lawyer’s blog at Tuscon Bike Lawyer. I’ve added him to my blogroll.