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It's a great start and should be carried out across these Fed Govt. But why the disparity in values? Metro benefit is ~$200 a month and the parking benefit is close in value... Why is bike commuting worth 1/10th the others?

I bike commute as much as I can but won't give up my car parking privilege unless the value is similar.

I believe that a $1000+ annual bike commuting subsidy would cause a noticable bump in federal workers biking to work.

My agency started offering this last summer as well. So it seems like it's starting to show up more places.

The disparity in benefits actually keeps me from switching despite being a 4x per week bike commuter. The once a week metro trip as well as the occasional (cough) personal trip I take on with my smartrip out weights the value of the bike subsidy

Just submitted my first benefits claim to DOT which has only had the program since 2010.

Most bike commuters I know also use public transit (parking is not authorized with our benefit). The inability to maintain transit subsidies for those who use both will likely keep many off the rolls. Even allowing for seasonal enrollment, it's a leap faith that it isn't going to get messed up somewhere along the line. A few I talked to say "The transit benefit is too valuable to give up."

Even though I ride 9/10 days, they'd have to pry my senior parking permit (indoor garage) from my cold, dead, fingers.

7 / 7 - yes, most agencies have been doing this for years but it is almost never worth giving up your transit benefit; even though I cycle commute except when injury / illness or crappy road conditions exist (like today in places), for those relatively few days of public transit I would have to give up my transit benefit, and then when I suddenly get a prolonged illness.....it is true congressional stupidity in writing statutes that requires one or the other when almost every knowledgable study indicates mixed is best.....

In my role as the "Bicycle Coordinator" for the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Employee Wellness committee, I may be able to shed a little light on this situation. When the original bike commuter benefit was authorized in ARRA, full implementation of the program was left to be completed at the Agency level. Those with ready capacity to add this benefit got to it quickly in order to capture the "greening" benefits within their operating budgets. (At the same time Agencies were required to improve operational efficiency under the President's Sustainability Initiative executive order.)

My Department, working through the Program Support Center, was one of the earlier Agencies to offer the benefit, but there remain some things in the policy that could be better clarified. I'm continuing to work on the inside to improve this worthwhile effort with our Administrators.

why the disparity in values?

In order to win Democratic votes for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (the so-called Bailout), Republicans added to it the Energy and Tax Extenders Act of 2008 - which included the Bicycle Commuter Benefit that Rep. Earl Blumenauer had proposed, with the $20 limit. But I don't know how he arrived at that dollar figure. The 2007 bill he proposed had no such limit, but by May 2008, the law did. Perhaps that's what was needed to get the votes. Bluemenauer has been working to have the amount increased and made more flexible ever since. So, I guess this is a "foot in the door" technique.

If I were to argue the other side, I would point out that the parking benefit is just that - a parking benefit. It doesn't cover any of the other costs of driving. But for cyclists, parking is already free, so the BCB helps to defer the cost of actually commuting. In that way, it is a bit sweeter than the parking benefit. It may not be as nice as the transit benefit, but I've never seen anyone do the math (Benefit/Total cost). This is one of those cases where fairness is in the eye of the beholder. The bike benefit might be 1/10th as much, but maybe bike commuting is 1/10th as much.

A better argument for increasing it and making it more flexible is that, in the long run, it's cheaper. It has the potential to reduce congestion, improve health, make for a cleaner America and reduce our reliance on an oil market still controlled by Saudi Arabia. Fairness has an emotional appeal, but the rational appeal is more compelling in this case.

DOT which has only had the program since 2010.

2010 is pretty good. The benefit wasn't law until 2009, and then the IRS needed time to write the regs. 2010 was the bleeding edge I think.

Washcycle, yes, I agree and didn't mean to come off as complaining. DOT has a bunch of newish bike racks right in the garage under the building and free access to showers.

In other words, we're almost spoiled :)

I e-mailed HR at my company many times about this starting Jan 31 2014. On Nov 3, I finally got a response that we won't be offered the bike commuter benefit for the following reasons:

1. The cost to administer this benefit would be more than it would actually benefit employees.
2. An employee cannot receive both the transit and bicycle benefits in the same month. 3. We do not have a lot of employees who are incurring expenses to ride their bikes to work.

Something's better than nothing, but that's like two good tuneups. Is this in addition to mass transit benefits or in lieu of?

In lieu of, but you can - for example, use the bike benefit for the 6 nicest months and the transit benefit for the other 6.

I don't jnow how much the parking benefit is worth, but 20 clams a month doesn't offset it in the burbs, let alone DC.

The issue lies with Section 132(f) of the tax code (26USC132) that discusses the bicycle commuting reimbursement (132(f)(5)(F))

(F) Definitions related to bicycle commuting reimbursement

(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).

As described in the section, subparagraph (A), (B) and (C) are a commuter highway vehicle, transit pass and qualified parking.

Ideally changing the IRS code to include dual receipt of both transit benefits and bicycle transit benefit as long as the two didn't collectively exceed the amount authorized.

For many Federal employees, the transit subsidies that are provided do not allow for those benefits to accumulate. In the case of an employee that commutes from Arlington, VA (Crystal City) to Washington, DC (L’Enfant Plaza), the daily metro fare would be $4.20. A 20 day per month commuter’s subsidy would be limited to $84.00 per month. If a bicycle commuter were to opt for the simultaneous receipt of the transit pass benefits and the bicycle commuting reimbursement, the cyclist would be eligible for $64.00 in transit subsidies and $20.00 in cycle reimbursement. Because many Federal agencies recapture the unused transit subsidy at the end of each month, staff receiving the dual program will not receive more than the actual transit subsidy.

The reality is that the benefit of the non-simultaneous receipt of the bike benefit would "evaporate" if the rider had to take the metro about five days a month.

Correcting this would just require changing the limitation on exclusion (132(f)(2)) to allow simultaneous receipt.

We (the Federal cycling commuters) need a champion on the hill to bring the legslitation into the 20th Century. The real issue is being able to combine transit benefits (up to a threshold). No-one will give up a metro or parking benefit for a $20/mth cycling benefit. If the end result is to encourage more people to cycle and less cars on the road - this benefit doesn't do that. If I could reduce my metro benefit and get a benefit from cycling, I might be encouraged to cycle more.

That champion is Earl Blumenauer and he's proposed just those kind of laws. At the margins, I suspect the law changes behavior a little, but not much.

Does anyone know what happens to the metro commuter benefits that are not used by the end of each month? As more Federal workers bike commute on a regular basis, the larger this unused surplus becomes. I'd be fine sharing a collective benefit of better bike commute amenities at work if agencies retain this surplus.

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