New laws give US cyclists a boost

$700bn financial bailout includes tax incentives for commuters

US cyclists are to benefit from their government's $700 billion bailout of the banking system.

And moves are in the pipeline to make sure bikes are taken into account whenever new transport schemes are planned.

Washington's emergency response to the credit crunch includes numerous tax incentives designed to support the economy.

One of these is the Bicycle Commuter Act, which provides tax money to employers who pay employees to cycle to work. 

Pro-cycling groups had been lobbying for the incentive for years, but progress stalled after the first attempt to pass the bill in 2005.  In the face of the ongoing global financial crisis, it has now been introduced. 

League of American Bicyclists president Andy Clarke said: “Bicycle commuters will now be extended similar benefits to people who take transit and drive to work.

"It’s an equitable and sensible incentive to encourage greater energy independence, improve air quality and health, and even help tackle climate change.”

Cycling activists have now turned their attention to planning legislation. They are trying to get the US Congress to pass an act to force developers of transport schemes to consider cyclists at the design stage.

The planned Complete Streets Act would mean that the safety and convenience of all users of the US transport system - including pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users as well as children, older people, motorists and those with disabilities - would be catered for in all phases of project planning and development. 

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