Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bike Commuter Bailout

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!


Clancy said...

I don't plan on receiving much at our small office. Not a big deal as I get lots of other perks(Indoor parking,car for errand if needed).

You might look at Scwalbe tires. I have some Big Apples on my Xtracycle for a cushy ride. Lots of their tires have built in reflective stripes. http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/schwalbe.asp

Bikeboy said...

I will indeed check out the Schwalbes, Clancy. I've always heard good things about them. (And was admiring a set of Schwalbe studded snow tires over the winter - on another bike.)

I've always gravitated to the el-cheapos because I figure no matter what you pay for a set of tires, you're still subject to the possibility of "catastrophic damage" - from a chunk of metal, a large piece of glass you hit just right, etc. I hate replacing a $25 tire with lots of tread still left, because it has been damaged beyond repair.

(The way the program works is - you save your receipts for the calendar year, and submit 'em in January of the next year for reimbursement. So, I'll probably stock up in December when sales can frequently be found, etc., and get reimbursed in January.)

Anonymous said...

Schwalbe's are great. I use the
Marathon XR
during the non-winter months.

db said...

Does anyone sell Schwalbes locally?

Clancy said...

DB, I have not seen them locally. If I were a bikeshop in town, I would have a employee that cruises the internet for users reviews..etc. Look at bikeforums.net, I have used that research before purchasing new parts or accs. I see Georges's has created a commuter section at the Front Street store.