Wash. state politician says bicycles bad for environment, need to be taxed

By: Mikael Thalen https://www.facebook.com/mt.examiner
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Washington state Senate Democrats recently produced a $10 billion transportation package which supports a raise on gas taxes, car tabs, and even a $25 tax on bicycles that cost more than $500.

In an email to Dale Carlson, owner of Bike Tech in Tacoma, Washington Rep. Ed Orcutt (R), a member of the State Transportation Committee, defended the idea of a bike tax by saying, "Sorry, but I do think that bicyclists need to start paying for the roads they ride on rather than make motorists pay."

“When you are riding your bicycle, tell me what taxes are being generated by the act of riding your bicycle,” Orcutt said to the Seattle Bike Blog.

Yet Orcutt's main support for the tax comes from his belief that riding a bicycle is worse than driving a car for the environment.

"A cyclists [sic] 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," he said.

Evan Manvel, a writer for Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club said, "The package’s proposed bike excise tax ($25 on sales of bikes costing more than $500) would harm hard-working small business owners. Most such bikes are sold by small family-owned bike shops and this would impose red tape and costs for them while creating virtually no revenue.

“People who bicycle already pay substantial taxes for our transportation system, including the sales taxes, property taxes and federal taxes that together cover two-thirds of all transportation spending in Washington. Bicyclists who own cars also pay the same car tabs as everyone else even if they drive less."

Some even feel that this could open the door to a carbon tax on breathing. A New York Times op-ed from 2007 said that "right now, everyone is using the atmosphere like a municipal dump, depositing carbon dioxide free," also suggesting that the government should start charging for the "privilege" by imposing a carbon tax.