Unfortunately, there is no intelligent test that we can administer to weed out idiocy in our governing officials. On March 5, the tax blog Don’t Mess With Taxes reported that Rep. Ed Orcutt, a Republican representing Kalama, WA, claimed that a person riding a bike emits more CO2 into the atmosphere than a person who is riding in a car.
Rep. Orcutt, who is a ranking member of the State Transportation Committee, wants to institute a “bike tax” in Washington which would be applied to road maintenance. The tax would be an additional 5% sales tax that would be levied on bicycles that cost over $500. In addition to the current 9.5% sales tax in Seattle, this would bring the total tax to 14.5%, or an extra $72.50 on a $500 bike.
Orcutt argued that, under current law, bicycle owners do not pay a transportation tax to help maintain roads, and that automobile owners are the ones who pay for the bike lanes on the roads.
In an email to a bike enthusiast who questioned the tax, Orcutt wrote 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." He went on to say, "Since CO2 is deemed to be a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride.”
He later clarified that his comment about bicyclists emitting CO2 was intended not to argue that bicyclists cause more damage to the environment than a motor vehicle, but that bicyclists cannot claim a zero carbon footprint.