Missing From the Climate-Energy Legislation: Bikes!

Missing from the Democrats' Inflation Reduction Act, the significant climate legislation which passed the Senate on a 51-50 party-line vote on Sunday with Vice President Harris casting the tie-breaking vote, is any mention of bikes.

2 minute read

August 9, 2022, 12:00 PM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

“The $369 billion climate package unveiled by Democrats last week is chock-full of subsidies for technologies meant to rein in planet-warming pollution,” writes Dino Grandoni, who covers energy and environmental policy for The Washington Post, on Aug. 2.  The bill passed the Senate in a marathon vote over the weekend and now goes to the House.

But there’s one popular, emissions-free machine conspicuously absent from what could be the nation’s most significant piece of climate legislation yet: the bicycle.

The omission was not an oversight. It was deliberate.

“Provisions designed to supercharge the sale and use of traditional bikes and the battery-powered variety were dropped from the climate deal reached by Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), the Senate’s most conservative Democrat. 

Dropped from the deal is a tax credit worth up to $900 to help cyclists purchase electric bikes. Also gone is a pretax benefit for commuters to help cover the cost of biking to work. Versions of both benefits were included in the roughly $2 trillion spending package that passed the House last year. [See Build Back Better].”

The tax credit for bike commutersrepealed by Republicans in 2017 in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the benefit would have been similar to the tax savings offered to commuters who pay for transit or parking.

“I’m surprised that that didn’t make it in, because it just seems so common-sense,” said Caron Whitaker, the deputy executive director of the League of American Bicyclists, a cycling advocacy group.

David Zipper, a visiting fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government where he examines the interplay between urban policy and new mobility technologies, told Alex Daugherty of POLITICO (in a  July 28 piece included in the Debate, Criticism, Commentary section in the featured post on the legislation):

“We need people not just to shift from gasoline cars to electric cars. We need people to shift from cars, period. We can do that. But there’s nothing in this bill that makes that process easier or faster or more likely to happen.”

Hat tip to The Washington Post's Energy and Environment newsletter, Aug. 4.

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