While many in the industry understand that bikeshare systems are a true transit option and should be treated as such, that distinction has been slow to be codified in federal law. Namely, bikeshare is missing from pre-tax transit benefits that offer many commuters savings on transit passes. Last month, Reps. Joe Crowley (D – N.Y.) and Erik Paulsen (R – Minn.) introduced the “Bike to Work Act,” which would fix that gap and add bikeshare to the list of modes eligible for commuter benefits.
The availability of transit commuter benefits can play a large role in one’s choice to take advantage of those options. Adding bikeshare to the mix (through a lower barrier by savings on membership) would encourage commuters who already take transit, too, to extend the reach of that transit trip through a bikeshare ride on either end. In a press release, PeopleForBikes President Tim Blumenthal noted that for many, this “last mile … is a challenging component for their daily commute.”
Steps to expand federal support for bikeshare haven’t been alone in the House in recent years. In 2016, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D – Ore.) introduced a bill that would have reclassified bikeshare as transit, thereby making it eligible for U.S. DOT’s transit funding.
The Bike to Work Act, which was also introduced in 2014 and 2015, admittedly faces another uphill battle in a Congress where support for transit funding is uncertain. But the bill represents the desire for continued efforts toward legitimizing bikeshare’s role within transportation systems.
Photo: A Citibike in New York City (Peter Burka, Flickr, Creative Commons).