Editorial: Salt Lake County Should Add Bicycle Commuter Benefit

Editorial By Dave Iltis • Editor • Cycling Utah

On Tuesday, November 24, the Salt Lake County Council will be considering including the Employee Bicycle Commuter Incentive Policy. The policy would implement a benefit of up to $300/year for employees who commute to work by bicycle. The benefit is slightly larger so that effectively the County would be picking up the tax on the benefit, and so that County employees could still take advantage of other County transit incentives.

The cost for this program is minimal, and is not expected to rise to the threshold of use that would require a budget line item. County sources say that they are hopeful that it will get to that level in a year or two.

The Salt Lake County Council failed to pass this earlier this year since they said they wanted the benefit to be a part of the larger employee benefit package presented in the fall budget for 2016. Now that it’s part of the employee benefit package, the Council should approve this.

The benefit would be precedent setting for a governmental entity in Utah. Currently, as far as we know, no other government entity offers this benefit. Few employers offer it as well. Adobe Systems, however, is one progressive company that does offer it.

The Employee Bicycle Commuter Benefit Incentive Policy would:

  • Improve employee health
  • Reduce healthcare costs
  • Improve employee happiness (since riding a bike makes one happier)
  • Improve air quality
  • Reduce traffic congestion
  • Reduce the need for free parking

Since the benefit is taxable, it would allow employees to double up with other commuter benefits such as employee van pools or bus passes or parking.

Given that the cost is minimal, the impact potentially high, and the message one of health and clean air, the Salt Lake County Council needs to approve this on Tuesday. To vote against this would be to be voting for poor health and bad air quality.

Cyclists are encouraged to call or email each Salt Lake County Council member and leave respectful comments asking the council to support this incentive by Monday, November 23, 2015.

In the May 6, 2015 Salt Lake County Council meeting, the following council members voted to reject the Bicycle Commuter Benefit and postpone the vote until this fall: Michael Jensen, Aimee Newton, Steven DeBry, Max Burdick, and Richard Snelgrove. (See http://slco.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=2147502453 for the Committee of the Whole meeting minutes).

Council contact info can be found here: http://slco.org/council/

The Bicycle Commuter Benefit Recommendation is here: Bicycle Commuter Benefit Recommendation 2015

The proposed Bicycle Commuter Incentive Policy is here: Bicycle Commuter Incentive Policy Council May 2015

Contact info for the 5 Council Members who voted no:

Max Burdick District 6 (385) 468-7459 http://slco.org/council/max-burdick/
Steve DeBry District 5 (385) 468-7458 http://slco.org/council/steve-debry/
Aimee Winder NewtonDistrict 3 (385) 468-7456 http://slco.org/council/aimee-winder-newton/
Michael H. Jensen District 2 (385) 468-7455 http://slco.org/council/michael-jensen/
Richard Snelgrove – Chair Member at Large (385) 468-7452http://slco.org/council/richard-snelgrove/

 

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