This week is not the week to take a break from bike commuting. SDOT is conducting their bicycle and pedestrian counts May 10-12, according to the SDOT Blog. So if you want to get counted, you gotta ride! From SDOT:
SDOT will be conducting pedestrian and bicycle volume counts at more than 50 locations across Seattle from May 10th to May 12th as part of the National Bicycle & Pedestrian Documentation Project.
Following a consistent, nationally recognized methodology will improve the quality and consistency of our data, and also increase the frequency with which we collect this type of data. The information we collect will document current levels of walking and biking, help us measure our progress towards increasing the number of people who walk and bike, and help make the case for additional investments. We plan on collecting pedestrian and bicycle volume information for times per year with our next count taking place in July.
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Speaking of bike commuting, does your workplace go above and beyond to support Bike Month or bike commuting in general? It should. Elly Blue’s most recent Bikenomics column for Grist dives into bike-friendly (and unfriendly) workplaces. Some workplaces even offer a cash incentive to bike to work these days. After all, it is financially wise to keep your workforce healthy and attentive. $50 for a month’s worth of increased energy from a full-time worker is an excellent deal.
Meanwhile, Grist also reports that Rep. Earl Blumenauer from Portland has introduced legislation called the Commuter Relief Act that would equalize the parking and transit benefits and expand the bicycle benefit passed in 2009:
Specifically, the bill would equalize the parking and transit benefits at $200 per month; let people claim benefits for more than one mode of transportation; and allow employees the option to take cash instead of an employer’s parking benefit, “reducing the incentive to drive instead of take alternative transportation.” It would also increase the current bike benefit (which Blumenauer got passed back in 2009) from $20 to $40 per month.
This bill is wonderful because it does not cost anything. Instead, it removes a current incentive to drive to work instead of taking transit, carpooling, biking or walking. According to Blumenauer, the bill is about choices:
“Our goal is to lay out a budget-neutral alternative that gives people some choices,” he said. “One of my favorite options here is giving people the opportunity to cash in their employer-provided parking. Giving a commuter the opportunity to say, I’d like to take that money and buy a bike and a bus pass and enrich my life and my health.”
Needless to say, if there were a Congressional Teen Magazine, Earl Blumenauer would be the heartthrob centerfold. Cash-out a federal parking subsidy and buy a bike instead? *swoon*
When I worked in an office downtown, my workplace offered me the choice between an Orca pass or the $20 bike commuting benefits. I took the bus pass, since that is clearly a far better deal than $20. I remember thinking: Why not both?
Even without these federal changes, the incentives are already immense to ride to work. Did you know the average American works two hours every work day in order to pay for a car? Want the biggest raise you’ve (probably) ever received in your life? The power is yours. Ride a bike to work.
So it’s time to get riding to work. The Group Health Commute Challenge is going on all month. Join a team and (gently) urge others at your workplace to do the same.