Saturday, November 15, 2008

2539.7 what it reads on my cyclo-computer odometer (which I reset on January 1) right now. It being just past the Ides of November, I expect I may (if I'm lucky) get in 3 or at most 4 weeks more of commuting in before the end of the year. This past week, I got in 3 days, had one day lost to bad weather, and one day lost because of having to make a business trip into Washington, DC.

My goal for the year was to displace 3,000 miles of car travel. To me, this meant 3,000 miles of trips that I would have made anyway in a car — commuting, errands, etc., so recreational cycling wouldn't technically count. I feel like I've gotten pretty close, no matter what the rest of the year looks like. I'm particularly happy in comparison to last year, when I cycled only about 2200 miles, over 500 of which were weekend recreational miles. (Nothing wrong with them, except they don't displace auto miles.) I got a late start this year, no cycling in January, which was pretty inclement, and precious little in February. I'm just going to have to get out more in winter if I want to make my goal next year, which I'm setting at 3,300 miles. (You read it here first.)

So, (shifting gears here a little,) as part of the Great Financial Bailout of 2008, the Bicycle Commuting Act was passed. This allows employers to provide fringe benefits to their bicycle-commuting employees of up to $20 and provide various tax incentives for same. I don't know how a "bicycle commuter" is defined; there are several guys at my office who are "bicycle decorators", i.e., they use bikes for office decor, but they don't ride them very much. One article I read says that if you ride your bike 60% of the time, you would be considered a bicycle commuter. So I broke out my calculator:

48 weeks* x 5 days x 17.6 miles in my RT commute = 4224 miles per year at 100% utilization.

(* I figured 52 weeks - 3 weeks vacation - 1 week holidays)

So at 60% utilization, 4224 x 0.6 = 2534.4 miles. This means that on my last ride home this past week, I became a bicycle commuter for the year. Whoo-hoo!

Seriously, I do a good amount of business travel, which should fairly be excluded. And there are other extenuating circumstance -- no one should have to cycle in a downpour. Not only is it not fun, it's dangerous. But I know that by US standards, I'm a cycling fiend. It just goes to show that the bar for defining "cycle commuter" has not been set too low by our friends in Congress.

For a NY Times article on the Bicycle Commuting Act, go here. For more information on the Congressional Bike Caucus (presumably a good place to write to do some informal lobbying,) go here.

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