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Bikesharing Commuter Benefit to Be Introduced Tomorrow

Photo credit: Mr.TinDC

Tomorrow is a big day for bikesharing in Congress.

Senator Charles Schumer of New York will introduce an amendment that allows commuters to pay for bikesharing with their transportation benefits. Last summer, the IRS ruled that paying for bikesharing was not allowed under the bike commuting fringe benefit. This amendment will fix this issue and allow commuters to pay bikesharing-related expenses with their benefits.

The Senate Finance Committee will vote on a tax extender package tomorrow that includes commuter parity, giving those who take the bus the same tax breaks given to those who drive. In January, the maximum transit benefit was cut in half to $130 per month,  while the parking tax subsidy stayed steady at $250 per month.

In a statement released by his office, Schumer says, “Bike share programs are an efficient, healthy, and clean form of mass transportation, and they should be treated the same way under the tax code as we treat car and mass transit commuters. It makes no sense for cars, trains, buses, and private bicycles to be covered by this program but not bike shares, and this legislation will fix that.”

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia is co-sponsoring the amendment.

According to the League of American Bicyclists, the amendment will have the following effects:

  • Last summer, the IRS ruled that costs associated with bike share memberships were not eligible under the commuter benefit statute as currently drafted. This amendment would change that.
  • Specifically, it adds bikeshare costs to the list of recognized expenses eligible for the transportation fringe benefit.
  • Like the Bike Commuter Benefit (for those who ride their own bike to work), employees using a bikeshare program to commute to work would now be eligible to receive $20 per month on a tax-free basis from their employer to subsidize their bikesshare membership.

Please take one minute and ask your Senator to support the bikesharing commuter amendment now.

Stop Senator Rand Paul From Cutting Transportation Alternatives Funding

Just last year Congress passed a new transportation bill, MAP-21, that dismantled dedicated funding for biking and walking by combining Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails into one and cutting the funding by 30 percent. The saving grace was that the bill included a local control provision to ensure that mayors and communities could access to these dollars to support local transportation priorities.

Now Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky wants to wipe out what’s left.

Senator Paul has introduced an amendment to the Transportation Appropriations bill to prohibit any money from being used for Transportation Alternatives. Paul’s amendment would redirect that money towards bridge repair.

While we agree that repairing our bridges are important, both for safety and economic development reasons, so are our local economies. Dedicating the small amount of Transportation Alternatives funding to bridge repair couldn’t fix our country’s bridges in 50 years. And, taking that small amount of funding away would dangerously undermine efforts in our cities, towns and counties to provide safe and efficient transportation options for everyone. With rates of bicycling and walking fatalities on the rise, that is a trade we can’t afford to make.

Maryland and Virginia residents, please contact your senators and ask them to save Transportation Alternatives—and the local control provisions that help build bikeable, walkable places—by voting NO on Amendment 1742.

The Senate hopes to finish this bill today or tomorrow. Act soon!

Thanks to the League of American Bicyclists for mobilizing this campaign to save local bike and pedestrian funding.

Read: Marya McQuirter on Black Women Biking—In 1928

Marya McQuirter is based in D.C. and is a League Certified Instructor who has taught a number of WABA’s safe cycling classes. On the League of American Bicyclists’ blog, she recently detailed some of her research on a group of five black women that, in 1928, biked from New York City to D.C.

When asked what motivated them to embark on the group ride, they responded that they were motivated by “the love of the great-out-of-doors” that each of them cherished.  Interestingly, they also challenged other young women, 21 years old and older, to replicate their trip in less time. What are we to make of this challenge, the professed love for “outdoor” culture and the trip, in general? And what was happening in 1928 that provides a context for the ride?

Read the rest of McQuirter’s post here.

Image via the League of American Bicyclists

2013 Congressional Ride, in Photos

2013 Congressional Ride

Yesterday’s Congressional Ride, the last major event of the League of American Bicyclists’ yearly National Bike Summit, gave D.C.-area cyclists and Summit attendees a short, seven-mile tour of downtown’s bike facilities.

The weather cleared up after a wet and windy (if nonthreatening) Wednesday evening, and over 60 people met at Lafayette Park to ride on the 15th Street, L Street, and Pennsylvania Avenue cycletracks. D.C. has quickly ascended into a city that’s great for cyclists, and we hope that Congressional Ride participants are able to return to their communities with our cycletracks in mind.

Congratulations and many thanks to the League for a fantastic Summit. We loved the chance to show off the great bike infrastructure that D.C. has installed over the past few years!

See some photos from the Congressional Ride below the jump, and even more on Flickr. Did you take any photos at the Congressional Ride? Add them to our Flickr pool!

Read the rest of this entry »

Tomorrow Morning’s Congressional Ride is On

moment_silence1-300x199The weather might be dismal today, but we’ll be out in force tomorrow morning for the Congressional Ride!

Join WABA, the League of American Bicyclists, and bike advocates from across the country for a short (7-8 miles) bicycle tour of D.C.’s bike infrastructure. The Congressional Ride is the last hoo-rah of the League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Summit. You’re encouraged to bring your own bike, and helmets are required.

Meet at Garfield Circle (in front of the U.S. Capitol) at 9 a.m. 8:30 a.m. tomorrow, Thurs., March 7. The ride will begin at 9 a.m. Click here for more information.

 

Watch: Veronica Davis at the 2013 National Bike Summit

See Black Women Bike co-founder Veronica Davis speak during the yesterday’s Ignite sessions at the National Bike Summit about the founding of her advocacy organization. Black Women Bike, which started in 2011 and now boasts a Facebook group of over 750 members, recently joined up with WABA.

Women & Bicycles Launch Party This Sunday

e6MXyK7ObZyMVaWZ7KTNlYi1U8M0BlyNV1r6XhihuwIWe’ve been talking about it forever, so we’re excited to announce that WABA’s Women & Bicycles program will officially launch this Sunday evening.

The sold-out launch party, at the City Vista Busboys & Poets, precedes the first event of the League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Summit, the Women’s Bicycling Forum, which will feature Janette Sadik-Khan, Tammy Duckworth, and Georgena Terry.

Other bike-world luminaries will be present at our launch party, including Taking the Lane Media founder and Everyday Bicycling author Elly Blue, Director of Women Bike Carolyn Szczepanski, and co-founder of Black Women Bike:DC Veronica Davis. Women from across the country who have made cycling a part of their lifestyle will be in town, so it’s a great opportunity to show off a program we’ve spent years developing.

Before the party, Black Women Bike DC will lead a ladies-only, hour-long bike ride around the city. Click here for more information on the launch party and the ride.

Just a RideIf you weren’t able to reserve your spot, we still encourage you to attend. Even though the room we rented will be at capacity, there is plenty of room to come hang out with other bike advocates and supporters  in the Loft.

Women & Bicycles is fully funded, thanks to a $15,000 grant from the League of American Bicyclists’ Women Bike initiative, a national effort to get more women on bikes through local programs like ours, and thanks to your generous support. We couldn’t have done it without you, and we can’t wait to celebrate what will be a great season of events, activities, and educational experiences for D.C.-area women.

If you were can’t attend Sunday’s party, please join us for future Women & Bicycles events! We’ll keep you updated on our blog, or you can sign up to receive updates here.

 

Women & Bicycles Fully Funded, Thanks to League of American Bicyclists’ Women Bike

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The face of bicycling is changing in cities across the country, and nowhere is that more evident than in the nation’s capital. Since 2004, Washington, D.C., has seen a 175 percent increase in cycling and a 300 percent increase in its bike lane network. Despite these incredible gains, the number of women on bikes has remained steady at 23 percent.

With a $15,000 grant from the League of American Bicyclists, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association is launching an initiative that will further elevate the D.C. region as a national leader in encouraging more women to ride.

WABA’S Women & Bicycles program will kick off on Sun., March 3, with a launch party from 8 to 11:30 p.m. at Busboys and Poets (1025 5th St. NW). Featured speakers will include Nelle Pierson, WABA’s outreach coordinator, and Elly Blue, founder of Taking the Lane Media and author of Everyday Bicycling, an accessible, easy-to-read guide to cycling for transportation.

WABA’s program is the result of several years of discussion and feedback, which concluded that a strong community is essential to getting more women on bikes. Women & Bicycles is encouragement-based: 10 Roll Models will be identified, then asked to tap into their personal networks to loop in women who might be hesitant to ride a bike for transportation. A series of small social gatherings hosted by Roll Models and practical-skill workshops and group rides run by WABA will engage Women & Bicycles participants and provide them with all the resources they’ll need to bike confidently in the D.C. area. WABA is in the process of selecting Roll Models, and the program will be underway by late March.

“Generally speaking, women admit to being more intimidated by the perceived risk of bicycling, maintaining appearances, and the responsibilities of being a primary caretaker in the household,” says Pierson. “So we’re going to tackle these issues together at meetups, workshops, and group rides, and we’re going to have a lot of fun in the process.”

Supporting such innovative efforts is a key aspect of the League’s new Women Bike initiative, the first national advocacy campaign aimed at engaging, empowering, and elevating women in all aspects of the bicycle movement.

“One of our primary goals is to seed, support, and spread new campaigns and ideas that are getting more women on bikes,” say Carolyn Szczepanski, the League’s director of communications and Women Bike. “WABA has been at the forefront of women’s outreach for years and we’re excited to partner with them on a pilot project that could be a model for communities nationwide.”

e6MXyK7ObZyMVaWZ7KTNlYi1U8M0BlyNV1r6XhihuwIOn the heels of WABA’s launch party, the League will bring together hundreds of leaders from across the country at the second annual National Women’s Bicycling Forum. On March 4 at the Renaissance Washington (999 9th St. NW), more than 25 diverse female leaders from bike advocacy, industry, policy and racing will present at the all-day forum. Keynote speakers will include Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and industry trailblazer Georgena Terry.

Registration for the public is $85 and media is invited to attend. Learn more about the Women’s Forum here. Learn more and get involved with WABA’s Women & Bicycles campaign here.

In addition to this fantastic news, we’d like to thank our members and friends who have so generously given to Women & Bicycles. Were it not for you, we wouldn’t have met and exceeded last December’s match grant or continued to receive donations well into the new year. Your support continues to be critical in raising funds and raising awareness for WABA’s work, and we can’t wait to show you the progress of the Women & Bicycles program.

 

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