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BBB Passes the House! Good News for Bike Infrastructure
Today, Democrats in the House passed historic legislation meant to address climate change and reduce the growing income gap in our country. It is the first major piece of legislation addressing climate change. And, while it is not The New Deal, it is the most comprehensive step towards backing low-income and working families in the last 50 years.
In order to become law, the bill still needs to pass the Senate- which means we will likely see changes from both moderate Senators, and the Senate parliamentarian whose job it is to see that the bill meets technical requirements.
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The bill includes transportation infrastructure programs and tax incentives that will make it possible for more people to choose biking and address the priority goals of advancing equity and reducing climate change — which the League believes bicycling is a key solution to.
“Clearly the House of Representatives understands that to address climate and equity, we need to create safe, accessible and sustainable transportation. The Build Back Better infrastructure programs do that,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. “We hope the Senate will keep these programs to ensure our transportation system works for everyone without harming the climate.”
What is in the Bill – Infrastructure Programs
- $4 Billion For Neighborhood Access And Equity Grants
This program directs funding to neighborhoods hurt by past discriminatory practices in transportation infrastructure, i.e. construction of major highways through low-income and minority communities. This funding is meant to remove and mitigate barriers that divide communities, reconnect those communities through safe bicycling and walking, address environmental justice issues like urban heat islands, and build technical capacity in the communities where projects are built. It requires 40% be spent in low-income communities.
- $4 Billion To Community Climate Incentive Grants
This program funds the US Department of Transportation to create a Greenhouse gas (GHG) performance measure, including an incentive for states that make and meet aggressive goals, and consequences for states that don’t reduce GHG emissions. The program also includes $950 million for states and $3 billion for local governments for projects and plans that reduce emissions.
- $100 Million For The Traffic Saftey Clearinghouse
This clearinghouse would fund and disseminate research and best practices on how best to ensure equitable enforcement and reduce racial profiling while improving safety.
(The original draft included a clearinghouse to look at the effects of automated vehicles on safety, equity, land use, etc. However, that was cut when the overall BBB bill price tag was halved.)
What is in the Bill – Tax Incentive
- Commuter Bicycle Benefit
The bill reinstates and improves on the former commuter benefit which was stripped out in the tax cuts of 2017. The new benefit would allow employees to use up to $81/month of pre-tax income for commuter-related expenses including purchase, improvement or maintenance of a bike (including an ebike) and/or bike and scooter share.
- Ebike Tax Rebate
The bill includes a 30% rebate on the cost of an ebike up to $900 per person (for a bike with a total cost of $4000 or less). The full rebate is available for individuals with an income of $75,000 or less (or a head of household making $112,500). The new version includes a ‘dealer transfer’ which allows participating bike shops to offer the benefit at point of sale.
- Incentives For Charging Stations For Micromobility
The bill also includes a tax credit for businesses who install micromobility charging stations, including for e-bikes. The stations must be open to the public and usable with a credit card or be for a fleet of commercial e-bikes or micromobiity vehicles.
(The original bill also included a financing tool for local governments to build rail trails by making railbanking eligible for Buy America Bonds (BAB). Unfortunately, the whole BAB program was cut, so we lost this financing tool.)