The New York Timesreports a small, interesting legislative add-on to the $700 billion bailout of our nation's banks and S&Ls. Under HR 1424, Section 211, apparently sponsored by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) as part of his Bicycle Commuter Act, employers will be able to deduct $20 a head for providing incentives for their staff to bike to work. (These amenities would include indoor parking, showers, etc.)
Now, $20 an employee doesn't sound like much of a tax incentive if you only look at the percentage of commuters who bike to work. (In Seattle, estimates range from 2.5 to four percent, ranking us third in the nation among larger cities.) But if you take a large company like Microsoft, which employs about 40,000 people in the Northwest, by providing said amenities for the (relatively) small percentage of the company that pedals, we're talking about $800,000. That's the equivalent of selling how many copies of Vista?
And, again, a big company doesn't have to provide all those amenities for every employee, since only a small percentage will use them. But, it's an interesting market-related approach to encourage such commuting, which also provides the economic intangible of removing cars from the road. Unfortunately, I suspect that the employer with the highest percentage of bike commuters, the UW, isn't eligible. Nor would be the City of Seattle, King County, or other government agencies, since they pay no taxes.