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  • Tue December 02 2008
  • Posted Dec 2, 2008
By Maité Jullian, USA TODAY Julie Sheu, an employee at the Clif Bar food company in Berkeley, Calif., started biking to work this year, thanks to a one-time benefit her company offers to its employees: $500 to either buy or repair a bike if they pledge to use the bike a minimum of two times per month. "It was the incentive and support I needed to get a bike that allowed me to get to work faster and do errands on weekends," she said. The program started in April. Almost half of the company's 227 employees take advantage of the bike program, company spokeswoman Sue Hearn said. A growing number of companies across the USA are offering incentives to their employees to promote bike commuting. In October, Congress passed the Bikes Commuters Act, which was included in the bailout plan. It will give companies a tax credit of up to $20 per month per cycling employee beginning in January, according to Lucia Graves, spokeswoman for Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, sponsor of the act. Although there is no national data on the number of businesses providing incentives to employees bicycling to work, bicycle groups say more companies are working toward it. "There are companies who have done it for a long time but in general we are definitely seeing a lot of companies we would have never expected," said Bill Nesper of the League of American Bicyclists. Businesses providing incentives for employee bike use include: • New Resource Bank in San Francisco since January has been giving employees $250 to buy a bike, Vice Chairman Peter Liu said. For people who don't bike, the money can be given to a charity. • Discovery Communications in Silver Spring, Md., has made $350 available to each of its employees since 2004 to buy or maintain a bike, spokeswoman Michelle Russo said. • Lockheed Martin has 250 bikes available on its Sunnyvale, Calif., campus for employees to travel on the property, spokesman Stephen Tatum said. About 50% of employees, or about 4,000, use the bikes, he said. • The Santa Cruz (Calif.) Beach Boardwalk amusement park provides employees interest-free bike loans, and free emergency rides home during work hours, said Jo Anne Dlott, vice president of human resources. The 2007 American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 0.48% of American workers, or about 650,000 people, use bikes to go to work. Data from local studies suggest an increase in bike commuting. • A 2008 Bikes Belong Coalition survey of more than 100 bike retailers shows that 73% of retailers are selling more "transportation-related bikes" than in 2007. • In New York City, commuter cycling increased by 35% between 2007 and 2008, according to a 2008 report by the city's Department of Transportation. • In Minneapolis, the number of bike commuters increased by 49% between 2006 and 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.

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