Blumenauer Introduces Key Bike Bills in the 117th Congress
U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Bike Caucus, reintroduced two bills to fund nationwide bikeshare programs and expand bicycle commuter benefits. The Bikeshare Transit Act would make local bike share programs eligible for federal transportation funding, while the Bicycle Commuter Act would reinstate and expand the bicycle commuter tax benefit to incentivize biking to work.
“COVID-19 has only increased the popularity of bicycle commuting and bikeshare systems as people seek safe transportation options. Even when the pandemic ends, this demand for biking will remain,” Blumenauer said. “The federal government needs to catch up and finally provide the funding, flexibility, and incentives needed to strengthen bike culture and infrastructure.”
The number of rides taken through bikeshare systems in the U.S. has grown every year since 2010. In 2019, riders took 50 million trips on bikeshare systems in at least 119 communities across the country. While some of those programs received federal funding, the lack of an established source of government support has proved an impediment to many other projects. Blumenauer’s Bikeshare Transit Act would codify “bikeshare” as an official form of transit and make bikeshare systems eligible for federal funding, which could be used for constructing and maintaining bikeshare facilities.
Relatedly, the Bicycle Commuter Act would ensure cyclists have access to pre-tax commuter benefits like those available for parking and public transit. Blumenauer authored and enacted a smaller bicycle commuter reimbursement benefit in 2009, but Republicans suspended it through 2025 as part of their 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Blumenauer’s legislation would not only reverse this suspension but also expand and modernize the bicycle commuter tax benefit. Specifically, his bill would make it a pre-tax benefit, more than triple the benefit’s value, allow the benefit to be used in concert with transit and parking benefits, and add bikeshare and electric bikes as eligible for the benefit.
Both bills, which are also sponsored by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Vernon Buchanan (R-FL), passed the House of Representatives in July 2020 as part of the Moving Forward Act. Now, under a new Democratic administration and Senate, Blumenauer is working to ensure both biking bills are included in any transportation package signed into law this Congress.
Full text of the Bikeshare Transit Act can be found here.
Full text of the Bicycle Commuter Act can be found here.