The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Bicycle Program offers free help and bicycle racks by request. DDOT will help you select, locate, and install racks in your garage or on your surface lot. In fact, DDOT will even pay for the racks if you agree to pay for the installation! DDOT will also supply a free bicycle parking sign for your facility. For more information contact the Bicycle Program Manager at 202-671-2331 or Jim.Sebastian@dc.gov, or go to http://ddot.dc.gov/ and click on “On Your Street.”
The Federal Transportation Fringe Benefit
The bicycle commuting reimbursement was added to the list of qualified transportation fringe benefits covered in section 132 (f) of the Internal Revenue Service Code in January, 2009. Employers may reimburse employees up to $20 per month, tax free, for “reasonable” expenses which include the purchase of a bicycle, bicycle improvements, repair, and storage. These are considered reasonable expenses as long as the bicycle is regularly used for travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment. Please note that unlike other transportation fringe benefits, a qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement benefit cannot be funded through employee pre-tax income, nor can an employee receive both the transit and bicycle qualified transportation fringe benefit in the same month.
The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED rating system provides certification for green buildings. Employees that bike can help contribute to LEED certification points for the building. Points can also be gained by providing shower facilities, lockers, or racks for bicyclists.
Parking Cash Out: A Tax Free Benefit for Bicycle Commuters
Employees who bike, walk, or take transit often have a parking spot they don’t use. A 1998 change in the federal tax law allows employers to pay employees the cost of that space and avoid paying a tax on this benefit. For example: Employees at Company X receive parking benefits worth $100 a month. Employees can either keep the parking spot, receive a tax free transit benefit, or receive $100 a month extra of taxable income in his or her paycheck. For more information call (800) 745-RIDE, or visit http://www.commuterconnections.org. Click on Employers; Overview of Services; Parking Management.
Negotiate Bicycle Facilities In Your Lease
When you renew your lease, ask building owners to install bicycle facilities, including a new Capital Bikeshare station. They can then market these amenities to prospective tenants and save on parking spaces. If there’s a gym within walking distance of your office, it may be cheaper and/or more practical to pay the gym to allow your employees to use their facilities.
The federal government is the largest employer in the Washington area with over 325,000 employees. In 1993 Congress passed the Federal Employees Clean Air Incentives Act which encourages alternative commuting at federal worksites. According to the Act, Public Law 103-172, “The head of each agency may establish a program to encourage employees of such agency to use means other than single-occupancy vehicles to commute to or from work [including] furnishing space, facilities or services to bicyclists.” Each agency must report on the progress of their program (number of racks, lockers, etc.) every two years.