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Bike shop owner laughs off emission claims email flap

The owner of a Tacoma bike shop says he accepts Rep. Ed Orcutt's apology after the Republican claimed in an email bicyclists cause pollution. (AP file)

The owner of a Tacoma bike shop at the center of a flap over bicyclists supposedly creating emissions says he accepts Rep. Ed Orcutt’s apology for the comments that caused a worldwide storm.

“I’ve never really considered the negative effect of breathing heavy,” laughed Dale Carlson of Bike Tech in Tacoma in an interview with KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson about Orcutt’s email that bicyclists actually pollute when they ride.

Carlson had written Orcutt to oppose a proposed bicycle tax requiring all owners of a bike costing over $500 pay a $25 fee to help fund transportation projects.

But Orcutt drew plenty of fire for his response, which said in part that bike riders are actually polluting when they ride because they put out CO2 when they exhale.

Orcutt apologized for the comment in an interview with Dori 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.

“It was a very poorly worded email and it was kind of an off the cuff comment that really wasn’t getting to the heart of the email,” he said. And basically what I was saying is that biking instead you still don’t get 100 percent reduction in carbon emissions. There’s still a little bit of a carbon footprint.”

While Carlson laughed off Orcutt’s dubious science, he said Orcutt’s support of a bike tax is no laughing matter, especially the Republican’s claims bike riders don’t pay taxes for the roads they use.

“All bicyclists are taxpayers as well, most bicyclists have cars and pay the gas tax in their normal week, maybe not for the hour or two that they’re cycling, but they pay plenty of tax,” he said.

Carlson also complained about the fee being focused on bikes costing $500 and above, arguing it’s unfair to mostly small businesses who sell more expensive bikes. And he insists while he’s not in favor of higher taxes, he understands the cash-strapped state needs to do something to help pay for transportation projects.

“What about a $1 tax on all bicycles regardless of the price and then it would include the big box stores that sell the cheaper bikes and it wouldn’t be primarily focused on the locally owned small business,” he said.

Orcutt has since apologized to Carlson, The Seattle Bike Blog and seemingly anyone else offended, and reiterated his environmental claims had no place in the conversation about bike fees. And Carlson says as far as he’s concerned, he’s over it.

“At first I thought it was kind of humorous and anyway, I’m not up on the science,” he laughed.

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