At the office yesterday, I got a notice about a change in benefits.*
It was a BIG DEAL - and a GOOD DEAL - for bicycle commuters. Woo-hoo!
It's called the Commuter Benefits Program. And for the first time, the company is going to provide meaningful benefits for employees other than single-occupant-vehicle motorists (who have traditionally gotten a huge perk in the form of subsidized parking).
From the memo:
How does the program work for qualified bicycle commuters?
Employees who ride their bicycle regularly for travel between the employee's residence and place of employment are considered qualified bicycle commuters.
Qualified bicycle commuters can receive reimbursement for reasonable bicycle expenses up to a specified limit. The limit is calculated as $20 per “qualified bicycle commuting month,” which is a month in which the employee uses a bicycle for a substantial portion of their travel between their residence and their workplace and receives no other commuter benefits. The maximum reimbursement is $240 per year.
Reasonable expenses include:
- Purchase of a bicycle.
- Bicycle improvements and/or repairs.
Employees who elect to use the bicycle commuter benefits and meet all the qualifications would submit their expenses annually by attaching receipts for qualified bicycle expenses for the previous year using the Bicycle Commuter Reimbursement form.
I already asked 'em if a person can buy a bike that costs more than $240, and get reimbursed for multiple years of use. Nope. The maximum for a bike purchase is $240, whether your bike costs $250 or $2500. But I see some sweet "Armadillo" or "GatorSkin" goathead-resistant tires in my future! (Rather than the cheapest tires I can find, which has been my tradition for as long as I've been riding.)
(There is a tax incentive for employers to provide this benefit to bike-commuters in their employ, as a result of the Bicycle Commuter Act, which became law late last year. Tell your boss you need some relief!)
* At a place where I formerly worked, the benefits updates were titled "Patterns in Partnership," and if you watched, indeed you could see a pattern - the company paid less all the time for employee benefits, and the employee paid more!