Bikes Belong October Newsletter In this Issue:
Bicycle Commuter Act Becomes Law
Conventions Bike-Sharing Effort Exceeds Expectations
Bicycle Friendly State and Business Rankings Announced
Rails-to-Trails Document to Quantify the
After seven years of legislative proposals, the bicycle commuter tax benefit has finally become law. The bill passed both the U.S. House and Senate in early October, and President Bush added his signature on October 3. This legislation allows employers to give employees who commute by bike a monthly tax-free stipend of $20 or less. This benefit is modeled after the federal vanpool and transit commuter tax benefit.
We are grateful to Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR) and other members of Congress who have worked tirelessly to advance this legislation, as well as all the devoted bicycle advocates who helped promote it.
Employers may begin reimbursing employees tax-free on January 1, 2009. Stay tuned for details.
When Bikes Belong teamed with Humana to bring 1,000 bikes to the Democratic and Republican national conventions, we had two goals:
To show convention delegates, media, volunteers, and residents the convenience of bicycling for short trips.
To highlight bicycling on a national stage and generate positive media coverage to inspire more people to ride.
On both fronts, the Freewheelin bike sharing effort was tremendously successful. During eight days of Freewheelin at the two conventions, people from all 50 states and 37 countries:
Took 7,523 rides
Pedaled 41,724 miles
Burned 1,293,429 calories
Reduced their carbon footprint by 14.6 metric tons
Reported no accidents or injuries
Freewheelin was a mainstream media event, with stories appearing on CNN, ABC World News Tonight, and the CBS Evening News, in major newspapers such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and New York Daily News, as well as in Time and Newsweek. So far we've tallied:
2,304 clips in print, on television and radio, and online
Nearly 180 million media impressions
An equivalent of $10 million in advertising
These widespread and positive stories helped promote bicycling as easy, convenient, healthy, safe, and fun to a larger and wider audience than we've reached before.
We thank Humana and all of the Bikes Belong member companies who generously supported this unprecedented project.
Bicycle Friendly State and Business Rankings Announced
The League of American Bicyclists has officially rolled out the Bicycle Friendly State and Business programs. These are extensions of the Bicycle Friendly Community program, and they are supported by Bikes Belong and Trek's One World Two Wheels program.
Washington, Wisconsin, Arizona, Oregon, and Minnesota topped the initial state rankings. The League evaluated each state using more than 70 criteria. The program will judge all 50 states annually to identify how states can improve conditions for bicycling and motivate them to succeed. Check all the listings at bicyclefriendlystate.org.
In the first round of the Bicycle Friendly Business program, 13 companies achieved rankings. Alta Planning + Design (Portland, Oregon), Clif Bar & Company (Berkeley, California), Landry's Bicycles (Boston, Massachusetts), and Quality Bicycle Products (Bloomington, Minnesota) earned gold, the highest level awarded in this round. This program helps companies promote bicycling and cultivate a bike culture. See all the awards at bicyclefriendlybusiness.org.
Like the Bicycle Friendly Community program, the Bicycle Friendly State and Bicycle Friendly Business programs provide recognition at four levels: platinum, gold, silver, and bronze. Already these programs are inspiring states and companies to compete and improve conditions for bicycling.
Rails-to-Trails Document to Quantify the Federal Investment in Bicycling
With major funding support from Bikes Belong, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has produced a new report, Active Transportation for America: The Case for Increased Federal Investment in Bicycling and Walking, to be released October 20. The report quantifies the benefits—relating to transportation, oil dependence, climate change, and public health—of bicycling and walking for short trips in the U.S. It also outlines future scenarios and potential savings in all these areas if bicycling and walking increase. This report will be an important tool as we work to boost federal funding for bicycling and walking in the transportation bill and beyond. Look for the full report on our website later this month.
America Bikes Preps for New Campaign
America Bikes, the coalition of eight U.S. national bicycling organizations, has hired a new campaign director as it prepares for the 2009 reauthorization of federal transportation funding (which includes major support for bicycling facilities and programs). Bikes Belong has been America Bike's primary funder since its inception.
Caron Whitaker of Washington, D.C., began work at the America Bikes office in early September. Whitaker previously served as the Director of Community Engagement for the National Wildlife Federation, and she has extensive experience in smart-growth development and planning.
The America Bikes board of directors and Whitaker met October 6 in Chicago to refine its strategy to maximize bicycling and pedestrian funding in the next multi-year federal transportation bill, which is slated for review and approval by next September. America Bikes helped engineer a significant increase in bike funding in the last bill, SAFETEA-LU, which became law in 2005.
America Bikes member organizations include Adventure Cycling Association, Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, Bikes Belong Coalition, International Mountain Bicycling Association, League of American Bicyclists, National Center for Bicycling and Walking, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, and the Thunderhead Alliance.
For more information, e-mail Whitaker: firstname.lastname@example.org.
BikesPAC Fundraiser Supports Our Work in Washington, D.C.
During Interbike in September, more than 100 Bikes Belong members attended a fundraiser for BikesPAC, the bicycle industry's political action committee (which Bikes Belong administers). The event featured a speech by special guest, Les McPhearson of Humana, Bikes Belong's partner on the Freewheelin bike-sharing initiative. McPhearson thanked the bike industry for the partnership and pledged continued support for bicycling. Bikes Belong's executive director, Tim Blumenthal, also spoke, describing successes of the past year and emphasizing the importance of focusing on the next federal transportation bill.
BikesPAC is an essential part of Bikes Belong's strategy to increase federal support and funding for bicycle facilities and programs. Look for an upcoming expansion of our PAC, which will allow us to seek contributions from a broader constituency and, therefore, increase our donations to the campaigns of members of Congress—both Republican and Democratic—who support bicycling.
Learn more about BikesPAC.
Bicycling Stats Available on Bikes Belong Website
Do you ever wish you could put your finger on the perfect statistic to make a case for bicycling? Do you need help quantifying the health, economic, or environmental benefits of bicycling? Bikes Belong recently launched a statistics section of our website to help you. It includes separate pages for participation, economic, health, facilities, and environmental statistics. We add to the compilation every week, so check back whenever you're in need of a precise fact to make your point.
Deb Hubsmith, our Safe Routes to School National Partnership director, accepted the Pioneering Woman Award from the Outdoor Industry Women's Coalition at Interbike.
Also at Interbike, Bikes Belong's Tim Blumenthal and Gary Sjoquist spoke to a group of nearly 70 retailers about the future of bicycling and how the industry can take advantage of opportunities.
Bikes Belong is funding the Thunderhead Alliance's 50 States/50 Cities project, an effort to establish strong advocacy groups nationwide.
SRAM is establishing an ambitious, five-year $10 million worldwide advocacy fund.
Bikes Belong awarded its 170th grant this summer.
Facts & Stats
Here's a sampling of some of the stats we've recently posted on our website:
Participation: Less than 1% of all U.S. trips are made by bicycle, yet nearly 40% of all trips are two miles or less.
Economic: The average annual operating cost of a bicycle is around $200, 1/70th that of an average car.
Health: Men who cycle to work are significantly less likely to be overweight and obese (39.8%) than those who drive to work (60.8%).
Facilities: From 1992-2005 Portland, Oregon, increased its bikeway network by 215%, and during that period bicycle commuting doubled.
Environmental: Bicycling instead of driving 5 miles a day reduces individual CO2 emissions by 1,287 pounds annually, about 6% of the average American's total emissions.