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Google Maps has added a feature that can now give users “biking directions” upon request.  Before this update, users could only pull driving and walking directions.  The update takes into account road conditions and safety issues, but cautions that the feature is in a beta stage.  There is a link where users can report unmapped bike routes, streets that aren’t suited for cycling, and other problems.  Another cool aspect of the new biking directions feature is that multiple potential routes are given when appropriate, and the user can choose which they prefer.  To use this feature, go to Google Maps, click Get Directions, and choose Bicycling from the drop down menu.

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The weather is finally improving in much of the U.S., and its perfect timing for Bike to Work Week which starts Monday.  Tucson is supporting Bike to Work Week by offering special festivities and events.

Bike to Work Week comes in good time considering the New York Times’ recent piece citing studies that show the daily activity most injurious to happiness is commuting.  So why not improve your commute by joining Tucson and biking to work this week?

Special festivities and events in Tucson in the upcoming week.

Information about Bike to Work Week in other U.S. cities.

Studies have shown that electric bikes are lower in energy use, carbon dioxide emissions, and lead emissions that cars, motorcycles, and even busses (when emissions are calculated per person.

For the full details on how electric bikes benefit the environment, check out Half Prius, Half Bike – Electric Bikes, on Mission Local.

Picture 2.pngHat Tip to Fritz at Commute by Bike for posting on the availability of commuter checks for those who commute by bike to work. This program allows the employer to give a pre-tax salary deduction to help offset the costs of bicycles, equipment and accessories, and bike storage. Fritz reports:

The new solution supports the expansion of the Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefit (IRS Tax Code Section 132(f)) to allow bicycle commuters to designate pre-tax salary deductions of up to $240 per year. Individuals can now designate up to $20.00 per month as a pre-tax salary deduction to pay for the cost of commuting via bicycle. This includes the cost of bicycles, bicycling equipment and accessories, and storage unit costs.

Similar to current Commuter Check programs for public transit and parking, employers can offer the bicycling benefit as a pre-tax salary deduction, saving on taxes for the individual and the company or as a subsidy, which is also tax deductible for the company.

For more information on the program, visit http://www.commutercheck.com/

Click here to read the Commute by Bike post in its entirety.

Virgin Vacations has put together a list of the 11 most bicycle friendly cities in the world.  The top rated include:

1. Amsterdam, Netherlands

2. Portland, Oregon

3. Copenhagen, Denmark

4. Boulder, Colorado

5. Davis, California

6. Sandnes, Norway

7. Trondheim, Norway

8. San Francisco, California

9. Berlin, Germany

10. Barcelona, Spain

11. Basel, Switzerland

Quite an impressive list!  The smallest city listed Davis, with 65,000 residents.  The largest is Berlin, with 3.4 million — where less than half the residents own a car!  This list demonstrates that cities of all sizes can make bicycling a core component of their transportation infrastructure.  Kudos!