OLYMPIA, Wash. – A Washington state representative who serves as a ranking Republican on the State Transportation Committee may be an unlikely proponent of a tax that would require everyone who buys a bike for more than $500 to pay a $25 fee.
His reason for supporting the tax, however, is raising some eyebrows in the Northwest biking community.
Rep. Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama) said in an email to bike shop owner Dale Carlson that, “since CO2 is deemed a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride.”
Carlson owns Bike Tech in Tacoma and is one of many in the bike community who is putting up a fight against the proposal.
“I emailed all of the representatives on the Transportation Committee asking them to reconsider this bicycle tax,” Carlson said. “I didn’t want a reply. I just wanted to get my message across.”
"My first reaction was to chuckle," said Tom Fucoloro from Seattlebikeblog.com. "I didn't know this was even an argument."
The statement also came as a shock to BikePortland.org’s Jonathan Maus, because he says up until now, Orcutt has staunchly opposed increased taxes on transportation.
“It’s shocking that someone in his high-ranking position would respond this way to a constituent,” Maus said. “The statement is based on a general cultural bias that people have about bicycling.”
In a statement regarding proposed gas tax increase in the 2013 transportation package Orcutt said, “before we even entertain the idea of a gas tax increase, we want to talk about transportation and economic reforms.”
KGW tried to reach Orcutt’s office but did not get a response on the weekend.
The $25 bike fee in question was announced by House Democrats two weeks ago as part of an overall package that would raise a reported $9.8 billion over the next decade.