Thanks to the federal Bicycle Commuter Act passed in 2008, employers can offer their employees up to $20 per month as a tax deductible fringe benefit. Unfortunately, there are several reasons why employers ave been very slow to participate.
One of the biggest challenges to implementation is that it can be cumbersome for employers to keep track of who is bicycle commuting and who isn’t. Employers won’t bother unless there’s a substantial number of employees participating in the program, but the more participating employees, the more cumbersome the program becomes for employers to administer.
Dero, the company best known for making bike racks, has a product called ZAP that can help employers keep track of who is bike commuting and who isn’t. The product requires participants to attach a small Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) module to the spokes of their bike. Each time they cycle to work, they ride underneath an electronic Reader that detects and records their presence. This allows large companies to easily track who is riding and how much.
It looks like a pretty cool product. There’s a potential for abuse, but the $20 per month allowed by the program probably isn’t worth going through the trouble.
In addition, there are a number of other applications where this technology could be used. In my own neighborhood, the Seward Co-op Grocery & Deli, has one installed in the parking lot. Patrons of the store can earn shopping incentives if they arrive by bike.