With May being bike month, you might find yourself reaching for your bike helmet instead of the car keys. An easy way to remember what to check on your bike before heading out, especially if you haven’t ridden it in a while, is ‘ABC Quick Check‘:
A – Air: Check the air in your tires. Inflate to the pressure listed on the side of the tire. Spin the wheels and check for wear. If there’s less than 1/4” of tread, it’s time for a new set.
B – Brakes: Brake levers should stop short of reaching the handlebar when pulled. Brake pads should be clean, straight, and contact the rims. You should still be able to see the pattern of grooves in the brake pads. Check coaster brakes by spinning the back wheel and pushing the pedal backward.
C – Chain: The chain should move freely, be free of rust, and lightly oiled. Pro tip: Avoid solvents like WD40 on your chain – use a lubricant instead.
Quick – Quick-release levers: If your bike has quick-release levers, make sure they are all closed.
Check – Give the bike a gentle bounce, looking and listening for anything loose: Take a slow, brief ride to check that your bike seat and handlebars are adjusted to the right height and that everything is working properly.
If your bike needs attention beyond the ABC’s, take it to a local bike shop for a thorough tune up.
Clipper START is a pilot program which provides single-ride transit discounts on all Contra Costa transit agencies, as well as BART, SF Bay Ferry, and others. Bay Area residents age 19-64 who meet certain income requirements can apply for the program and save up to 50% on local fares.
With a Clipper START fare card, riders can receive single-fare discounts from 20% to 50%. Households of four making $53,000 or less annually qualify for the program. Learn more and apply online at clipperstartcard.com.
A simple but effective way to have an impact on transportation projects is by giving your feedback during the planning phase. Get involved and give your input on the Link21 regional transit project (BART, Capitol Corridor), bike and pedestrian accessibility in your area (Caltrans), and projects in Concord, Antioch, San Pablo, and Pleasant Hill.
Click any button below to jump to the related survey page
Link21 (BART, Capitol Corridor): Link21 will transform Northern California’s passenger rail network into a faster, more connected system, providing safe, efficient, and affordable travel for everyone. At the core of Link21 is a new transbay crossing for BART and Regional Rail. Provide your thoughts on the draft goals and objectives.
Caltrans Active Transportation Plan Survey: Help Caltrans plan for biking and walking improvements in your area. Identify concerns you believe need to be addressed to better walking and biking on and along State Routes near you.
Antioch Safe Streets: The City of Antioch is working to identify potential traffic safety projects. Your input is essential for the development of their Local Roadway Safety Plan. Use the interactive map on the Antioch Safe Streets site to share your concerns regarding traffic and safety.
San Pablo Bicycle & Pedestrian Corridor Study: This is a project to make 10 high-priority streets and paths in the City of San Pablo safer and easier for walking and cycling. Survey respondents can enter their name and email for the chance to win a $50 gift card.
City of Concord Downtown Corridors Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvement Project: Help people get around more easily by bicycle and on foot around Todos Santos Plaza and Concord BART station. The city is looking to update pedestrian curb ramps and pavement striping in those areas and they need your input.
Monument Corridor Study (Pleasant Hill): Help the City of Pleasant Hill improve Monument Blvd. between Contra Costa Blvd. and Mohr Ln. for walking, biking, and transit. Use the interactive map to mark a location you feel needs improvement and describe the issue.
With 2021 now upon us, you should be aware of these three new laws affecting motorists:
Unattended children in motor vehicles: Exempts a person from civil or criminal liability for trespassing or damaging a vehicle when rescuing a child who is 6 years old or younger in immediate danger from heat, cold, lack of ventilation, or other dangerous circumstances. [Effective Jan. 1, 2021]
“Move Over, Slow Down” amendments: The “Move Over, Slow Down” law has been expanded to apply to local streets and roads. Drivers approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying emergency lights, including tow trucks and Caltrans vehicles, must move to another lane when possible, or slow to a reasonable speed on all highways, not just freeways. [Effective Jan. 1, 2021]
Points for distracted driving: Beginning July 1, violating the hands-free law for a second time within 36 months of a prior conviction for the same offense will result in a point being added to a driving record.
For more information on new driving-related laws taking effect in 2021, click below.
Transit riders and vanpoolers who take advantage of pre-tax commuter benefits with their employer will find that their maximum monthly limit decrease to $130 starting January 1, 2014 from $245 in 2013.
The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (HR 8) restored the pre-tax transit and vanpool commuter benefits to be on par with the qualified parking benefit temporarily for the 2013 calendar year. That parity ends December 31, 2013.
At this time, the 2014 monthly limits for qualified monthly transportation benefits are:
up to $130 per employee per month for public transportation and vanpool
up to $250 per employee per month for qualified parking, or
up to $380 per employee per month for both public transportation and qualified parking
Employers can select one of the following four commuter benefit options to offer to their employees:
The option for employees to pay for their transit or vanpool expenses with pre-tax dollars, as allowed by current federal law;
A transit or vanpool subsidy to reduce, or cover, employees’ monthly transit or vanpool costs;
A low-cost or free shuttle, vanpool, or bus service operated by or for the employer; or
An alternative method that would be equally as effective as the other options in reducing single-occupant vehicle trips (and/or vehicle emissions).
Building on the success of similar programs adopted in the cities of San Francisco, Berkeley and Richmond, as well as the San Francisco International Airport, the Program facilitates a regional approach to encourage the use of sustainable commute modes, such as public transit, ridesharing, bicycling and walking, in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality.
In the Bay Area, where these programs are already in place, most employers have chosen the pre-tax option (option 1 above), which can provide economic benefits to both employers and employees through tax savings. Employers can reduce payroll taxes (approximately 9 percent of subject wages), and employees can lower their commute costs by up to 40 percent. Plan Implementation
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission are currently developing plans for adopting and implementing the Program, and will conduct public workshops to present, discuss and receive comments on the Program. View dates and locations of upcoming workshops. See also New Bay Area Commuter Benefit Policy
up to $245 per employee withholding per month for vanpool and all public transportation
up to $245 per employee withholding per month for qualified parking, or
up to $490 per employee withholding per month for both public transportation and qualified parking
This is great news but how does one go about setting aside pre-tax income for a commute benefit? Here are some steps you can take to get started.
First, make sure you’re using a qualifying commute alternative. The benefit is available to commuters who commute to work in a vanpool, use public transit, or pay for qualified parking. (Carpooling does not currently qualify for pre-tax benefits.)
Next, ask your employer if commuter tax benefits are offered; typically Human Resources or Benefits department will know. If your employer isn’t aware of the benefit, share the IRS Employer’s Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits with them.
Step three is to set up a payroll withholding for the qualified commute benefit you use. Keep in mind, your employer must have this benefit set up as a pre-tax withholding option in the payroll system.
There is also a benefit for commuting by bicycle though the process is slightly different because unlike other pre-tax commuter benefits the bicycle benefit cannot be withheld from your pay. See the full tax code here
Note: Withe the passage of California Senate Bill 1339, employers in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Are with 50 ore more employees will be required to offer some sort of commuter benefit – one of the options is to offer employees to withhold pre-tax income for vanpooling, transit or qualified parking. Look for more information on the roll-out of this bill in summer of 2013. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission are developing the Rule.
up to $245 per employee per month for vanpool and all public transportation
up to $245 per employee per month for qualified parking, or
up to $490 per employee per month for both public transportation and qualified parking
The effective date for the revised limits above allows for retroactivity back to January 1, 2012 if an employer so chooses under Sec. 203.
In 2012, the IRS Transportation (Commuting) Benefits rolled back to pre-2009 levels of $125 per month (adjusted for inflation) for vanpool expenses and public transit passes. The maximum was temporarily raised to $230 per month under The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 and extended under the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 to equal the monthly qualified commuter parking limit.
Qualified bicycle commuting reimbursements will remain unchanged at $20 per month in the new year.
By offering pre-tax commute benefits to employees, employers can save on paying FICA payroll taxes and employees can take advantage of saving on federal withholding and FICA taxes on the amount deducted. Find out more from these third-party commute benefit administrators: Benefit Resource Inc., Clipper Direct, TranBen, TransitCenter (TransitChek), and WageWorks.