Orcutt, the ranking member of the Washington House of Representatives Transportation committee, made the comment while defending a $25 tax on all bikes over $500 sold. A Tacoma bike shop expressed concern over the tax, saying it would turn people off to the mode of transit.
In an email posted on SeattlePI.com, Orcutt wrote,
Also, 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.
Orcutt made a claim common in the Republican party, made popular by climate change deniers. Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is what we exhale and is natural. Therefore, since it's in the air already, it cannot be harmful.
It's a false argument as the issue is the concentration. There is scientific proof that high levels of CO2 can make breathing impossible in a process known as asphyxiation. Increasing CO2 levels been linked to rising temperatures across the planet, further debunking the Republican position.
In his clarification, Orcutt claimed he was attempting to point out that riding a bike is not a zero-carbon footprint activity.
Orcutt is correct in saying human beings produce more CO2 while riding a bike than standing still or sitting, but the amount of CO2 produced is significantly less than the amount produced by a car idling.
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