Tax breaks for bike commuters

Tucked inside the $700 billion bailout bill is a provision that could help bicyclists commute to work and motivate others to start biking. Beginning Jan. 1, 2009, employees could receive up to a $20-per-month, non-taxable stipend for commuting by bike, and their companies would get a tax break. The provision is part of the Renewable Energy Tax Credit initiative attached to the bailout bill. Employers don’t have to offer the bike benefit, but if they do, it’s up to them to set up a process of administering the stipend in either cash or as a pre-tax deduction option, according to Employers would also decide how much a worker must commute by bicycle to receive the monthly stipend, which, ideally, could go toward bike maintenance and gear.

According to the Census Bureau, half of U.S. workers live within five miles of their workplace, and more than a quarter of commutes are one mile or less. Yet, less than 1 percent is done by bicycle.