WA legislator: “Cyclists’ increased respiration” leads to air pollution – UPDATED

WA legislator: “Cyclists’ increased respiration” leads to air pollution – UPDATED

Rep. Ed Orcutt thinks that “bicyclists
are actually polluting when they ride” because,
“the act of riding a bike results in greater
emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider.”

A high-ranking Washington legislator has added insult to injury in his support for a bike tax by claiming that bicycling is not environmentally friendly because people who ride bikes pollute the air when they breathe.

An email that surfaced online today from Washington State Representative Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama) outlines his position on the transportation tax recently proposed by Democrats in the Washington legislature (read update below for source of the email). As we shared a few weeks ago, part of the tax package includes a tax on the sale of bicycles. Rep. Orcutt is staunchly opposed to taxes of any kind and is even opposed to the gas tax increases in this legislation; but in an email dated February 25th, Orcutt expresses his support for the bicycle tax provision. Most of his argument is not terribly surprising: He believes only people who drive pay for the roads, “So it only makes sense that bicyclists would be required to pay for the ‘roads’ they use.”

But in his email (full text below) that was posted to Twitter this morning by Seattle resident Astrid Rial and has been authenticated by Seattle Bike Blog he writes, “bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride” because, “the act of riding a bike results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider.”

Here’s the entire text of Orcutt’s email:

“I am not a fan of the House Transportation tax proposal, nor of many tax proposals, but I have to admit I think there are valid reasons to tax bicycles. Think about this for a moment: Currently motorists are paying to use their cars on the roads while they are actually driving their cars. At the same time they are paying for bike lanes because there is no gas tax — or any transportation tax — generated by the act of riding on the roadways. So, if cars pay for the roads they are using, it only makes sense that bicyclists would also be required to ‘pay’ for the roads they use when they are actually biking on them.

Also, you claim that is is environmentally friendly to ride a bike. But if I am not mistaken a cyclists [sic] has an increased heart rate and respiration. That means the act of riding a bike results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider. Since CO2 is deemed a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride.

I know, you own a car and drive so you are paying gas tax — but not while you are riding your bike. When you are driving your car and generating gas tax you are also driving on the roads so are only really paying for the roads while driving — not while biking.

Sorry, but I do think that bicyclists need to start paying for the roads they ride on rather than make motorists pay.

Ed

It does not appear that Orcutt’s pollution theory is tied to his support of a bike tax; but it’s troubling nonetheless.

Rep. Orcutt is the ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, so he could hold some sway in the larger debate over this tax proposal.

UPDATE, 2:52 pm: Turns out the email was originally circulated by Cascade Bicycle Club. They’ve posted the full backstory.

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