Tag Archives: government support of cyclists

Bike boxes for boston!

I was very excited to hear that Boston had recently unveiled bike boxes along a stretch of Commonwealth Ave.

These allow bikers to filter to the front of the line of traffic at a red light, making it easier to turn left or to avoid cars that are turning right when you want to go straight. I’ve found them very useful in other cities.

Along with the bike boxes, they’ve also added a bike lane. I was surprised to see that the bike lane was on the left side of the road. It felt very strange to ride on that side of traffic, but I suppose there was more room for it there than next to the line of parked cars.

I was grateful to have some space carved out for me, and can definitely say that it’s an improvement from the previous situation, which forced bikers to take up a whole lane next to the parked cars. There’s no more anxiety about dooring or the inevitable angry drivers that swerve around you at fast speeds. Double parking is also prevalent in this area, so it’s nice not to deal with that. However, there were some intersections where the bike lane switched from the left to the right side of the road, necessitating some awkward maneuvering. Maybe it wouldn’t seem so awkward given time.

When I stopped to take these pictures I got to observe some interesting bike-box behavior. Three bikers ignored the bike box and sped through the red light. The bright green paint seemed to send a clear message to the cars, though, which all stopped behind the bike box. Strangely, one biker did too. It seems that adapting to the bike boxes will be a longer process for bikers than for drivers, but I hope they start spreading to other parts of the city.

bicycle commuter act

This is apparently very old news, but somehow I just heard about it today. Way back in 2008, a Bicycle Commuter Act was passed as part of the Renewable Energy Tax Credit legislation that went into effect on January 1, 2009.  This allows for a reimbursement (from your employer) of up to $20/month for bicycle related expenses, assuming you commute by bicycle regularly.

How this reimbursement happens seems a little hazy and is apparently for each employer to figure out themselves. I haven’t heard a peep about this benefit yet from my employer, so am assuming that it’s not something they actually offer at this point. I sent an inquiry to my HR office and am awaiting a reply…

Even if they do offer it, it’s unlikely that I would ever actually take advantage of the benefit, as you can’t receive this reimbursement in the same month that you receive another transportation benefit (i.e. a transit pass or parking reimbursements), and I really love my subsidized MBTA pass. It seems a shame that these things can’t be combined, since $20 a month is pretty meagre anyway, compared to the $115/month that’s allowed for transit and the $210/month to help drivers. As soon as I heard about this I thought about a beautiful new saddle bag I’ve had my eye on, but I guess I’m going to have to spend my own taxed income on that one.

I doubt that this kind of benefit is enough to encourage those who don’t commute by bike to start, but it does seem like it could be helpful for those who are already doing so.