Washington state Rep. Ed Orcutt (R–Kalama), a ranking member of the State Transportation Committee, argues that bicycling is bad for the environment and says bike riders should have to pay a tax to help maintain the state's roads.
Update March 6, 2013 at 12:30pm:
In an email to constituents, Rep. Orcutt apologized for his comments that riding a bicycle contributes to pollution. "My point was that by not driving a car, a cyclist was not necessarily having a zero-carbon footprint," Orcutt said in the email, according to Reuters. "In looking back, it was not a point worthy of even mentioning so, again, I apologize."
Orcutt made his comments in an email, which was posted by the Cascade bicycle club blog on Saturday. In the message, Orcutt states bike riders pollute the environment because they produce more carbon dioxide than car drivers.
The email from the lawmaker, which was written to bike shop owner Dale Carson, goes on to say that because bike riders have an "increased heart rate and respiration," 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," Orcutt wrote in the message, which Carson provided to The Huffington Post on Monday.
Carson had originally written Orcutt an email arguing against a proposed 5 percent bicycle tax on bikes that cost more than $500. He said biking is good for the environment as part of his argument for why bicycle riders save taxpayers money.
In his email response, Orcutt said a bike tax makes sense because currently drivers are the ones paying for roads and for the bike lanes on them. Cyclists, on the other hand, don't pay for roads because they don't pay a gas tax "or any transportation tax," the email states.
HuffPost reached out to Orcutt's office for comment but did not receive an immediate response.
The proposed bike tax would be added to the normal Washington state sales tax (6.5 percent) and local sales tax rates, which vary depending on where one lives in Washington.
In Seattle, for example, the combined local and state sales tax rate is already 9.5 percent, meaning that if the bicycle tax is implemented, people buying a bike that costs over $500 would pay a 14.5 percent tax there. For a $600 bike, that would be an extra $87.00.
As the Seattle Times notes, Washington's bike tax was part of a 10-year, $10 billion transportation package that was introduced in February by state House Democrats -- legislation that would also impose a tax on purchases of cars, trucks and gasoline. The bicycle tax is expected to raise $1 million throughout a 10-year period.