Active Living Blog
Posted: Feb 29, 08:34 AM
BEMIDJI, MINNESOTA (February 29, 2012) – Bike to work and shop at The Bike Guy to use your bike commuter benefit. My search has begun for local businesses in Bemidji, Minnesota, that are familiar with this awesome bike commuter benefit and have the ability to help me utilize it. As of this blog post, the bike commuter benefit is a new find for me and I just learned that The Bike Guy not only is familiar with this program, but is already participating. I have to admit I feel a little behind the game to have just discovered this bike commuter benefit and that folks are already taking part in it here in Bemidji; however, with that, I’ll share what I know so far about this program and let’s spread the word.
Businesses that offer bicycle products and services, such as commuter bicycles, bike locks, helmets, and general bike maintenance, are a key player in realizing your bike commuter benefit; however, employers are another key player. Thanks to an inclusion of the Bicycle Commuter Act in the Renewable Energy Tax Credit legislation that passed in 2008, employers now have the option to offer an employee benefit of up to $20 per month for bike commuters. So, to make this fly, talk with your employer about this bike commuter program and ask them to offer it. The League of American Bicyclists is an advocate for this program and has developed some tools for employers to use, that make implementation of this program in the workplace pretty simple. Employers may contact their Commuter Benefits Provider to enroll or contact Accor Services, a leading provider of transportation benefits commuter solutions.
For legal fanatics, this bicycle benefit is on the list of qualified transportation fringe benefits covered in section 132(f) of the Internal Revenue Service Code.
League of American Bicyclists has information on this bike commuter benefit on their website at http://www.bikeleague.org/resources/commuters/. They also produce a report called “American Community Survey – All Cities Date Compiled by the Leaugue of American Bicyclists www.bikeleague.org”, which lists by state and city the following data: population, total workers, percentage of bicycle commuters, number of bike commuters, percent of bike commuters who are female, percent of bike commuters who are male and a few other figures. Currently, Minnesota is listed on this report, featuring the following 6 cities: Bloomington, Duluth, Minneapolis, Rochester, St. Cloud, and St. Paul. Bemidji is not currently listed; however, it would be pretty cool if we could raise visibility and interest with the league, to include our “First City on the Mississippi” in future reports.
I’m thrilled to learn of this bike commuter benefit program and would like to thank employers and businesses that participate for their commitment to bicycling. Bicycling as a form of transportation, in particular to work, makes exercise inherent in your daily activities and is a huge money saver. Bemidji is covered in snow during this late February day; however, soon it will be spring and I can’t wait to start rolling on two-wheels around beautiful Lake Bemidji!
Natalie Gille, Bemidji resident and outdoor enthusiast