The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has implemented the following Bicycle Subsidy program to meet the mandate of Presidential Executive Orders as well as to provide a strong strategy to reduce vehicular traffic congestion and air pollution in areas of the country in which NIH has a large contingent of employees.
Bicycling provides a form of transportation that will benefit employee health, air quality, the environment (global warming), reduce traffic congestion, and conserve energy.
NIH currently has a large population of cyclists. NIH has won numerous awards from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments for its leadership in the National Capital Region for having the most bike-to-work participants. Other Federal agencies and government entities look to NIH to set the trend for healthier commuting options.
Executive Order (EO) 13154, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance was signed by President Obama on October 5, 2009. This EO requires all Federal agencies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 28% by the year 2020. The EO requires agency leaders to employ new strategies to reduce Scope 3 emissions from employee travel between home and work. It was estimated for the 2008 baseline that the yearly combined total for NIH employees and contractors traveling between home and work was over 50 million miles.
Congress passed legislation under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 that allows a $20- per-month subsidy to be issued to an employee for bicycling to work, provided they do not receive any other form of transportation subsidy (i.e. parking or transit).
Only Federal employees, as defined by 5 U.S.C. Section 2105, are eligible for the Bicycle Subsidy.
NIH in an effort to reduce traffic congestion and to meet the requirements Executive Order 13154 will offer a Bicycle Subsidy to all qualified Federal Employees. All employees must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Must be a qualified Federal employee;
- Regularly uses a bicycle for a substantial portion of the travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment; and
- Does not receive:
- Transportation in a commuter highway vehicle,
- Any transit pass, or
- Qualified parking benefits1.
For employees to receive a bicycle subsidy they must have a qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement described as reasonable expenses. Reasonable expenses include:
- The purchase of a bicycle, and
- Bicycle improvements, repair, and storage.
Reasonable expenses are allowed as long as the bicycle is regularly used for travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment.
All bicyclists will adhere to the current NIH Policy 1411 (Bicycles, Bicycle Racks and Locker Facilities) and NIH Policy 1301 (Conduct of Persons and Traffic Violations at NIH) while operating bicycles on the NIH campus.
Participants will receive the Bicycle Subsidy in the form of vouchers (Commuter Checks).
NIH will not be responsible for lost, mutilated or stolen vouchers, or for vouchers that are allowed to expire by the participant.
Vouchers are not transferable.
Anyone who violates the requirements of this policy, NIH/HHS regulations, or Federal/Statutory laws could be subject to Criminal, Civil, and/or administrative penalties including suspension from the Bicycle Subsidy program.
Qualified applicants for the Bicycle Subsidy program may submit an application in person to the Employee Transportation Services Office (ETSO) for the bicycle subsidy.
The ETSO is located in Building 31, Room B3B04, 31 Center Drive, Bethesda Md, 20892-2123. ETSO hours of operation are from 7:30 AM – 4:00 PM, Monday – Friday.
Applications may also be mailed to the ETSO. Applications may not be faxed or scanned unless approved by the ETSO. Original forms must be received by the ETSO. Forms that are incomplete, not original, or not signed will be discarded.
The subsidy will be issued only when the employee has resolved outstanding issues for parking or Transhare, to include:
- Surrendering NIH issued parking permits;
- Terminating access parking cards for off-campus facilities; or
- Terminating participation in the NIH Transhare Program.
Employees in the Bicycle Subsidy program may not park any vehicle other than their bicycle at any NIH parking lot or parking facility that surrounds properties owned or leased by NIH without specified permission from the ETSO.
Bicycle commuters may receive up to 12 one-day temporary parking permits per calendar quarter. For example between January and March, if an employee has a need to drive or weather is prohibitive an employee can come to the ETSO up to a week in advance and obtain a temporary permit for General parking.
If the Federal government is delayed in opening and/or liberal leave is offered by OPM due to inclement weather conditions, any temporary permit issued for that day will not be counted toward the 12 permits per quarter.
Bicycle Subsidy applications processed before the 16th of the month will yield the full monthly subsidy allotment.
The bicycle subsidy may be redeemed only at participating bicycle shops that are on the Commuter Check’s approved list. Subsidy members may encourage their favorite bicycle vendors to contact Commuter Check to join the list of participating bicycle shops.
Monthly vouchers that are not picked up within six months will be forfeited.
Participants may withdraw from the Bicycle Subsidy program during any month subsequent to a monthly disbursement. Participants who terminate the Bicycle Subsidy program cannot receive Transhare, parking hangers, or permission to park at any NIH owned or leased facilities until the expiration of the month the subsidy was issued. This does not apply to the temporary parking permits issued as part of this program.
1 Qualified parking is parking that is provided by the employer to the employee that is on or near the business premises.