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Cash incentives for bike and transit commuters; free compost; Cleveland's cyclovia this weekend

Marc Lefkowitz  |  08/09/11 @ 1:00pm  |  Posted in Biking

· Given the quantifiable benefits to health and environment, it follows that bike commuting should be rewarded in kind by employers. In fact, a little known tax code benefit does allow companies to reward a tax deduction of $20 a month to bike commuters. The IRS also allows employers to give their employees up to $230/month to commute via transit. To see the details- and to make copies for your financial officer-go here.

· For institutions that own their parking lot, creating incentive programs for biking, walking and transit make sense, especially when the inventory of parking is tight and the company can expect to monetize it through a high volume of visitors. That is certainly the case where I work – the Cleveland Museum of Natural History offers incentives to staff who commute by bike, take transit, walk or carpool. The rationale is they are using fewer revenue generating parking spaces. The museum offers up to $50/mo (actual amounts are based on the percentage of commutes made by these alternative modes)-and it can do so because it owns its parking and can generate income. (To make bike commuting more attractive, the museum installed a 12-bike rack (pictured) in a covered location by the front entrance. Also, University Circle has a free commuter shuttle that connects RTA's Red line station at Cedar and the Health Line on Euclid with many Circle institutions). Why don't more institutions that own their parking offer this incentive-for-parking revenues swap?

· RTA wants to get your company signed on to its Commuter Advantage program-where companies help employees purchase monthly transit passes with pre-tax dollars (the program saves individuals an average of $300 dollars annually, says RTA's Jim Frick). RTA also offers a "Ready to Ride" program, Frick says, a "microsite to provide trip planning; you can get a personal 'bus buddy' to encourage and show you how to use the bus" as an introduction to Commuter Advantage.

· If you feel that highway building doesn't represent the best investment in the future of Cleveland and its surrounding communities, that an equitable share should go to improving the safety and condition of existing roads for more climate friendly transportation options like biking, walking and transit, then NOACA needs you. The regional transportation agency will begin counting cyclists on the roads this summer, and it needs volunteers to get the most robust data.

"The new program will help better prioritize investments in the regional bicycle infrastructure, and further level the playing field between non-motorized and motorized projects by incorporating better data," says NOACA Multi-Modal Transportation Planner R. Marc Von Allmen.

Count times will be from 5-7 p.m. on September 13, 14 and 15, and from 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. on September 17. For more information and to volunteer for the bike count, log on to this web page.

· Cycling advocates have joined forces in a new advocacy organization called Bike Cleveland. Mark your calendar for Bike Summit Cleveland on September 10-11 (Saturday and Sunday). The goal is to create the agenda for the new organization that will focus on making Cleveland a true biking community. Go here for more information.

· Walk+Roll Slavic Village is this Saturday August 13th, from 1-6 p.m. Three miles of neighborhood streets will be made "car free" to enjoy on a bike, walking tours of area historic churches, gardens, or to take in a Zumba and Yoga class, skateboard, listen to live music, and sit on a curb and eat from Cleveland's famous food trucks including Umami Moto, StrEAT Mobile Bistro, Jibaro, and Setti's Polish Boy.

Plus, a bike scavenger hunt takes you to 11 destinations and points of interest throughout Broadway Slavic Village. While exploring the neighborhood, riders make pit-stops at local businesses like Shipley's Coffee House, People and Paws Gallery, Seven Roses, and the Brick House, filling their punch cards at each stop. The grand prize is a new Jamis 1.0 Commuter Bike from Joy Machines Bike Shop. The more destinations you visit, the more tickets you earn for winning prizes. It's all free.

· Near West Side resident Chuck Ackerman's home composting has been so successful this summer, he's giving away shovelfuls of the good deep dark homegrown soil to first comers. "Come and get it, 7313 West Clinton, on the right side of our garage. Feel free to dig deep and get the good stuff," he says.

· Salon has picked up Richey Piiparinen's blog post in Rust Wire of his W. 83rd Street Project, a public art and 'deconstruction' of a home on this West side Cleveland street which was rocked by a gas line explosion-and which seeks to heal the community.

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