Rep. Orcutt says bicycles aren't environmentally friendlyon March 4, 2013 @ 5:43 am (Updated: 3:47 pm - 3/5/13 )
Last week, House Democrats announced their proposals to raise more tax money for transportation projects, including phasing in a 10-cent per gallon gas tax increase. Rep. Ed Orcutt of Kalama, the top Republican on the House Transportation Committee was among the Republicans opposed to it.
He opposed it in part because he thinks we should find ways to build roads cheaper. "In some cases, we're two, two-and-a-half times as much for similar projects to what's being paid in other states," said Orcutt.
But it turns out Orcutt is not opposed to all transportation taxes. He does support the proposed bicycle tax which would require everyone who buys a bike worth more than $500 to pay a $25 fee.
Defending an idea to tax some bicycle owners $25 to pay for the roads, Orcutt told a Tacoma bike shop owner in an email last week that he believes bicyclists actually pollute when they ride.
The email stated bike riders put out CO2 as they ride because of their increased breathing - which means bike riding isn't as environmentally friendly as people think.
Orcutt apologized for the comment on Monday, but he didn't retract his claim that cyclists contribute to climate change with their "increased heart rate and respiration." He did admit it was inflated language.
Orcutt told KIRO Radio's Dori Monson his email was "poorly worded" and "off the cuff."
Orcutt says the truth however, is that bike riding reduces emissions by 90 percent, but not entirely.
"That's the study that I saw on the Seattle Bicycle blog," Orcutt told Dori. "That's higher than I would imagine."
Orcutt said his comments weren't meant as any disrespect for bicyclists, who are doing their part to reduce greenhouse gases.
"They're riding in the rain, heat, wind," he said. "That's how passionate they are about reducing CO2 emissions."
Regardless of the CO2 emissions, Orcutt still feels that bicyclists sharing the roads with cars should pay their fair share. "My feeling is if we are going to take money out of the transportation account for things dedicated to bicycles, it would make sense for them to pay some of that."
A brief search for the emissions of bicyclists on the Seattle Bike Blog (not Seattle bicycle blog) only found a recent post that referred to this story from BikePortland.org.
A report by KIRO Radio's Chris Sullivan and Seattle's Morning News host Dave Ross.
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