by David Mendez
Washington State Representative Ed Orcutt is of the opinion that bicycle riders deserved to be taxed similarly to motorists because they both share the road that motorists use AND produce greenhouse gases. By breathing.
I mean, I guess I see the logic behind the first part. But taxes based on increased respiration? Really?
As a bit of background, there exists legislation in Washington that would levy a 5 percent tax against new bicycles priced $500 or more. Orcutt was contacted by constituent Dale Carson, who opposed the tax. Carson then received the mother of all head-scratching responses, which is copied in part below.
From Cascade Bicycle Club:
...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.
In his letter to Carson, Orcutt also argues that he feels that bicyclists should be paying taxes based on the fact that, as things are, they use roads that motorists use and pay for...which makes sense, I guess. Though by that logic, you're also going to have start taxing pedestrians for walking, then damn near everybody for stepping fut onto public property. SLIPPERY SLOPE, PEOPLE.
At least Orcutt appears to have acknowledged that what he said was completely dumb in a response to Seattle Bike Blog, which noted that taxes on motorists provide only one quarter of the Washington State Department of Transportation budget. From Orcutt's response:
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.
'Atta boy, Orcutt. Good job both for being a Republican that actually supports a tax increase and for not uttering the obscenely stupid "sorry if I offended anyone" line.
Just make absolutely sure you know what you're talking about before you start shooting off emails next time.