If you're a regular rider, by now you've surely heard about how as part of last weeks $700 "Oh fuck, screw public opinion, the house is on fire!" BILLION dollar bailout by Congress, bike commuters will be eligible for a $20/month tax credit/rebate/reimbursement for bike expenses.
The SF Chronicle article is here:
Here's some more info:
Dubbed the "Bicycle Commuter Act," the legislation has been in the works for almost a decade by Oregon house reps but didn't get passed until, well, Nancy Pelosi REALLY needed the votes. Or to put it another way, these being desperate times, Congressional "leadership" (and really, that's a stretch) was willing to cut deals with Congressmen and women who were against the unpopular bailout - Not so much because they give a flying fuck about us, but because they might be tarred and feathered when they come home and have to explain to their constituents why they voted to throw money at something that ultimately hasn't made one iota of a difference.
Call it pork barrel spending or good old fashion politiking - "Um, I can't vote for this bill unless every child in my district gets a pony and a red balloon." I think bribery or extortion might be a better word for it - Extortion for the most obstinate (principled?) House Reps like Brad Sherman
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFstmclOQG8) and bribery for us bicyclists.
While most bike folks I've talked to are stoked about the bill, I think we sold ourselves short. I mean, if you're gonna bribe us, $20 a month is nice and all, but I'd be just as happy if you taxed the shit out of Hummer drivers or Lockheed or Monsanto and gave the money to local schools. Or better yet, how about kicking some money down for bike path infrastructure (you know, like the ones they have in the Netherlands?) so I don't have to flirt with death every time I ride to work....?
*sigh* fine, I'll take the twenty bucks, but I still want a pony.