Ed Orcutt is a Republican in the Washington state House of Representatives. Okay so far. He says we don’t need more taxes. A familiar point of view. But there’s one tax he likes the sound of – a tax on bicycles. Lots of bikers would argue against that, but they didn’t start making noises like a wildcat caught in a drive chain until he explained why biking isn’t so environmentally friendly.
Bikers emit greenhouse gases.
Yes, in an email to Dale Carlson, who has a bike shop in Tacoma, WA, Orcutt said that a tax on bicycles would be good, because motorists pay for bike lanes through gas taxes. “It only makes sense that bicyclists would also be required to pay…” And, “you claim that it is environmentally friendly to ride a bike. But if I am not mistaken, a cyclists has an increased heart rate and respiration. That means that the act of riding a bike results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider. Since CO2 is deemed to be a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride.”
The Seattle Bike Blog challenged the idea that bicyclists don’t pay taxes. “Most roads people bike on are paid for by counties and municipalities. In Seattle, gas taxes pay just four percent of the SDOT budget (as of 2009). Most of the rest comes from sources everybody pays, no matter how they get around,” wrote Tom Fucoloro.
But a lot of people passed up economic detail to slam the idea of bike smog. Some asked incredulously if Orcutt wanted to tax exercise. Orcutt was described as a warped idiotic stupid moron freeloading troll. And those are some of the daintier things said about him.
Orcutt realized that this was not going over well, and said sorry.
First of all, let me apologize for the carbon emissions line of an e-mail which has caused so much concern within the bicycle community. It was over the top and I admit is not one which should enter into the conversation regarding bicycles.
Although I have always recognized that bicycling emits less carbon than cars, I see I did a poor job of indicating that within my e-mail. My point was that by not driving a car, a cyclist was not necessarily having a zero-carbon footprint. In looking back, it was not a point worthy of even mentioning so, again, I apologize – both for bringing it up and for the wording of the e-mail.
Second, please understand that I have not proposed, nor do I intend to propose, any tax – and certainly not a carbon tax – on bicyclists. There is little in the Democrat tax proposal that I support. However, the one aspect of the Democrat tax plan that has merit is their proposed $25.00 tax on the purchase of any bicycle $500.00 or more. I am willing to consider this because I’ve heard requests from members of the bicycle community that they want more money for bicycle infrastructure. The idea of bicyclists paying for some of the infrastructure they are using is one which merits consideration.
Since I have heard concerns about doing this via sales tax due to the impact on bicycle shops, I am very willing to work with the bicycle community to determine an appropriate way to enable bicyclists to pay for some of the bicycle-only lanes and overpasses. It is my intent to seek out your advocates in Olympia to see if there are other ways to accomplish this.
Again, I do apologize for the carbon line in the e-mail and any confusion it has created. I look forward to working on reasonable solutions to the problems cyclists are having with infrastructure.
Let’s examine. He started out well, then undercut it a little. He said the carbon emission stuff wasn’t worth mentioning. True. In fact, it was stupid. Also stupid: pretending to be a collegial, aisle-crossing guy, but using “Democrat” when he should use “Democratic.” As previously noted, this is a childish right-wing sneer, for mysterious reasons.
He is “willing to consider” the bicycle tax because of the plaints of the “bicycle community.” Oh please. He spends a lot of time promoting himself as a cooperative problem solver. In closing, he undermines his apology by calling his critics confused.
Maybe Orcutt thought it would be amusing to propose taxing something sacred to liberals and hear them bellow. He’d top it off by exposing their hypocritical polluting ways. Oh, the savage wit of the thing!
There are probably opportunities to do that, but this isn’t one. Instead of puncturing the hypocrisy and sham of others, he looked like a buffoon.
Be thankful he didn’t get started on methane emissions.