A proposed $25 bike tax and recent comments
from Washington State Rep. Ed Orcutt are a concern for cyclists and residents in one of the nation's most bike-friendly cities.
The former would require cyclists to pay a $25 tax on the purchase of any bike that retails for $500 or more. The latter, Orcutt's admittedly "over the top" response to a bike shop owner's disapproval of the tax, has appeared in The Seattle Times
, on NPR.org
and The Huffington Post
in recent days.
In an email to Dale Carlson of Bike Tech
in Tacoma, Wash., Orcutt said that cyclists actually pollute when they ride because they exhale CO2. An "increased heart rate and respiration results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider. Since CO2 is deemed a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride," he wrote.
Orcutt has since backpedaled, telling Reuters, "My main point was that by not driving a car, a cyclist was not necessarily having a zero-carbon footprint. In looking back, it was not a point worthy of even mentioning so, again, I apologize."
The tax would go toward funding area transportation projects. Opponents are quick to point out that most cyclists also own cars and routinely pay the gas tax and licensing fees that pay for roads. Additionally, local bike shops like Bike Tech, Velo and 20/20 Cycle typically carry inventory at a higher price point than large chains. When choosing between a higher-priced item with a $25 tax and a lower-priced item without $25 tax, consumers might choose Fred Meyer, Wal-Mart or an online retailer for their purchase instead of the community's mom and pop shops.
One of many ideas outlined in the $10 billion transportation budget put through by House Democrats in February, the bike tax would raise a projected $1 million over 10 years. Of note, The Bicycle Alliance of Washington points out
that less than half of one percent of the $10 billion dollar plan would go toward investments that make it safer and easier to get around on bike or foot.