UPDATE: Orcutt has apologized for making the comment to the cyclist, but doesn’t retract the claim made.
It’s not often that I applaud a legislator for a tax increase, but when I see one throwing blatant hypocrisy back in the faces of those who deserve it, I have to give them credit for doing so.
Washington State 20th Legislative District Representative Ed Orcutt, a Republican has done just that and has the ardent bicyclers up in arms as Washington State Democrats are proposing a slew of tax and fee increases for an ambitious transportation bill.
Their measure also includes a $25 tax to be charged on bicycles costing over $500 along with a 10 cent per gallon increase in the gas tax, an increase in excise tax on car licenses, a hike in the hazardous substance tax and new county auditor fees for car license tabs and title transfers.
While many bicyclists aren’t all that much opposed to the increases, they are becoming very outspoken in opposition to a tax on their preferred mode of transportation, bicycles.
Evan Manvel with the Cascade Bicycle Club said to KING 5 News,
“We’re deeply concerned by that. We think it’s going to be a burden on hardworking business owners. We also think it’s going to create a bunch of red tape and cost more to administer than it will bring in.”
Buck Hazard, owner of Wrench Bicycle Workshop in Seattle echoes that sentiment saying,
“Owning a bike is expensive, especially a commuting bike. It wears out quite quickly, and they’re already dumping lots of costs into a bike, so this added fee – yeah it won’t make commuters super excited.”
At issue for cyclist, according to Manvel is
“where the money is going, and it’s mainly going to big highway expansions, and that’s a problem.”
Apparently, if it was for more “friendly roads,” bicycle lanes encroaching into traffic, they wouldn’t balk as much.
Apparently this prompted Dale Carlson, owner of Bike Tech in Tacoma to contact Rep. Orcutt and express his opposition to bicycles being taxed. A February 24, 2013 email to Ed said in part,
“People who choose to ride a bicycle instead of driving a car actively reduce congestion, save wear and tear on our roads and bridges, and reduce the state labor needed to patrol our highways. Additionally, bicyclists produce fewer emissions and reduce healthcare costs through increased physical fitness. Therefore, it is unfair for bicyclists to subsidize the construction and maintenance of highways that they impact far less than the motorists. If anything, new bike purchases should earn a $25.00 tax credit because of the savings they provide to the state.”
Pretty much what we always hear from avid cyclists as to why they should not have to pay for extra roads they want and we that own cars should pay for their wants.
Apparently in somewhat of a mood, Orcutt responded with what I take as a tone of sarcasm, countering the claims made by Carlson that has the Cyclists reeling now.
Orcutt begins his response with,
“I am not a fan of much in the House Transportation tax proposal nor of many tax proposals, but I have to admit I think there are valid reasons to tax bicycles.”
As to the claim of lessening emissions, Orcutt delivers a coup de grâce with,
“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.”
Well played, Ed well played.
The complete email exchange is here
Apparently unable to discern they are being had, bicyclists are up in arms over the increased emissions claim and still crying they actually do pay for the roads, falling back on many of them also own cars and also pay gas taxes.
While true if they own a car they pay the tax, how does that entitle them to an extra portion of the road and designated lanes complete with markings?
Do they miss that a person owning and riding a motorcycle, even if he has a car also, pays a licensing fee to operate the motorcycle?
Most motorcycles do not weigh much either and therefore do not tear the roads up, a claim frequently made by cyclists, but they must pay a license fee and carry insurance, a requirement not placed on bicycles.
Electric cars are light as well and use no gas, but they too are not exempt from paying for their portion of the roads and are assessed a $100 registration fee every year to make up for the gas tax they don’t pay.
“When you are riding your bicycle, tell me what taxes are being generated by the act of riding your bicycle. Sales tax does not go into roads.”
So why shouldn’t bicyclists kick in a little to help pay for an extra they want?
Bicyclists have long cried they have “equal rights to the road,” and that has been backed by city ordinances and state law. They are bound by the same traffic laws car drivers are, or they are supposed to be.
I say that because I frequently see bicyclists violating traffic law, riding on the wrong side of the street, blowing through stop signs, not using signals, impeding traffic and there is even calls for the ‘Idaho Stop’ for bicycles where riders are only required to slow down at stop signs and flashing red lights instead of coming to a complete stop.
I have even seen and been the target of bicyclists who demand pedestrians get out of their way when they are riding, not yield to the pedestrians.
I side with Rep. Ed Orcutt. Bicyclists, you demand ‘equal rights’ then you should be willing for ‘equal taxation’ for a special lane of your choice.
They are not opposed to us paying more in taxes and fees as the only opposition I see to this transportation package is they might have to kick in $25.
Bicyclists, time to “pay your fair share.”