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State lawmaker defends bike tax, says bicycling is not good for the environment

EDITOR’S NOTE, May 2015: This story is going viral again, but not everyone realizes the story is old. Please note that it happened in 2013. Thanks!

Ed Orcutt

Representative Ed Orcutt (R – Kalama) does not think bicycling is environmentally friendly because the activity causes cyclists to have “an increased heart rate and respiration.”

This is according to comments he made in an email to a constituent who questioned the wisdom of a new bike tax the legislature is considering as part of a large transportation package.

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We spoke with Rep. Orcutt to confirm the email’s authenticity and to get further clarification.

“You would be giving off more CO2 if you are riding a bike than driving in a car,” he said. However, he said he had not “done any analysis” of the difference in CO2 from a person on a bike compared to the engine of a car (others have).

“You can’t just say that there’s no pollution as a result of riding a bicycle.”

He said the email, which he had not reviewed since he is away from from his computer for the day, must have come from a constituent who disagrees with him (UPDATE: Cascade has posted the full exchange, which was with Dale Carlson, owner of BikeTech in Tacoma).

“Somebody doesn’t like me, and that’s fine,” he said.

He also stands by his opinion that people who bike do not pay for roads when they ride.

“When you are riding your bicycle, tell me what taxes are being generated by the act of riding your bicycle,” he said. “Sales tax does not go into roads.”

That people who bike don’t pay for roads is demonstrably untrue. Most roads people bike on are paid for by counties and municipalities. In Seattle, gas taxes pay just four percent of the SDOT budget (as of 2009). Most of the rest comes from sources everybody pays, no matter how they get around. On a state level, gas taxes only pay for one quarter of the WSDOT budget.

As for the transportation package, he said the amount of money that would end up going to bike lanes is higher than the amount raised by the proposed bike tax.

“You’re asking for a whole lot more back than what you’re going to put in,” he said (we responded to this point here).

UPDATE: Rep. Orcutt email Seattle Bike Blog Monday morning apologizing for his comments. Read his email here.

Here’s the full email:


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136 responses to “State lawmaker defends bike tax, says bicycling is not good for the environment”

  1. The myth that drivers pay for the roads is a big problem that we deal with constantly. It follows that others don’t deserve safe streets, which manifests in things like the failure to give enough passing room or other unsafe driving. And it’s the reason it’s so hard to improve our infrastructure.

    It’s a national tragedy that we have bankrupted our cities and no small part due to road maintenance costs, not to even mention how driving infrastructure has ruined cities and towns.

  2. My Other Car’s the Tardis

    This fool is one of our elected officials? News alert: people produce C02 regardless if we’re riding a bike, sitting in a car, or drinking a latte. So off with our heads!

    If this is an example of his level of scientific reasoning, then I expect him to propose WA state schools start teaching creationism as a valid counterpoint. Good grief.

    1. Gary

      It’s true that an exercising person produces more CO2 than one sleeping in Olympia, but it’s C from things that weren’t sequestered from a million years ago.

      (except that currently the food we eat is a negative energy cycle due to the fact that we use fossil fuel to make fertilizer and burn fossil fuel to transport it to the store where I drive my car to go buy it. (’cause I’m too lazy to ride to work AND ride every chore… but that’s not true of everyone and it’s something I’m going to change in the future.)

      But still it’s a pretty stupid argument because I bet that my extra CO2 emission from eating more is lower than if I drove to work.

    2. Jamie Whitfield

      Hmm… bike riding causes CO2 emissions. As does most anything, but in the case of bike riding, it is greater than when people sit and do practically nothing. This is environmentally unsound.

      So now, we must create an exercise tax, because when people exercise, they create a greater amount of CO2 than when they don’t. And we also need to create a tax for fat people who insist on doing any form of physical exertion that might raise their heart and breathing rate. Because, it also, creates CO2 emissions.

      People who exercise should pay a fair amount of taxes to cover the cost of maintenance that their exercise makes a necessity, unless they do it at a gym or other private business to which they pay to access. And fat people do more damage to the sidewalks, staircases, and bridges when they use them, due to their excessive weight. So, it is only fair that they pay more to municipal, county and state taxes for the upkeep. Not to mention the damage they do to elevators, benches and picnic tables located on public property.

      This is the kind of warped thinking that this man has created with his idiotic statement. I think the people of his state should demand for his resignation, as he CLEARLY lacks the ability to make informed decisions based on real science.

      Of course, the real reason for the stupid answer is that he probably made an agreement to support the bill in exchange for someone supporting something of his, or to gain a favor owed. Then, after making this backroom deal, he had to come up with an answer for his reasoning that was other than revealing his political maneuverings.

      At least, people HOPE, that this is the real answer. Otherwise, they have to admit their elected official is too stupid to breed– much less make decisions about laws that affect their lives.

      1. John Murphy

        Tax the Seahawks for every workout.

      2. Trekbiker1999

        Seahawks are part of the NFL and the NFL is a non-profit entity. That means when the Seahawks cough up their franchise fee to the NFL, they take a tax deduction for the contribution to a non-profit. Look it up. Common citizens should have such preferred treatment, right?

  3. vincent

    Christ what an asshole.

    1. Mike

      Vincent, I think you’ve summed it nicely.

    2. John Perry

      Get rid of him. He is part of our problem with elected officials. Shit for brains!!

  4. Fnarf

    The reason people don’t like you, Ed, is because you’re a freaking moron.

    I bike — and yet I also own a car. Two, in fact. And I pay not only the associated car taxes but all the other taxes — city, state, and federal — that are assessed on me. Which pays for the roads.

    The real freeloader here is ED ORCUTT, who comes from one of those red counties, Cowlitz, that gets a buck and a half of state spending for every dollar they put in.

    1. Momo

      Fnarf-Hey now, don’t go dinging all of Cowlitz County for the idiocy of Orcutt. Most of the residents of Cowlitz live in the 19th district, where you will find a plethora of Democrats in elected office. Admittedly, we do get more in funding from the state that we pay in revenue due to the high rates of poverty and unemployment. We’re not yet, however, a red county, despite the best efforts of the editorial board of our local newspaper.

      PS-As a car-free resident of Longview, I can attest that this is a fantastic place to get around by bicycle. Courteous drivers, responsive police department, cycling here is a million times more pleasant here than other larger cities I have lived in. We’re not entirely backward!

      1. Momo, car-free in Longview? I’m impressed! If you don’t mind me asking, what part of town do you live in?

        Longview could be a really amazing bike town. It’s really flat, the area around the lake is really pretty, and the wide streets have plenty of room for cycle track. It’s a drained swamp, just like the Netherlands, so won’t not go all Dutch?

      2. Econut

        ..”Most of the residents of Cowlitz live in the 19th district, where you will find a plethora of Democrats in elected office. Admittedly, we do get more in funding from the state that we pay in revenue due to the high rates of poverty and unemployment. ”

        Fox Butterfield, is that YOU?

  5. Glen

    Wonder if the voters of Kalama think they are getting their vote’s worth with this guy. Apparently the bar to getting elected is pretty low in that district. Maybe I’ll move there and try my hand at being a state rep.

    It’s amazing in this age of electronic communication that anybody would say something like this, especially an elected official.

  6. Peri Hartman

    I just sent this to Rep. Orcutt:

    Rep. Orcutt,

    I’m writing to advise you on your position regarding bicyclists’ use of roads and versus taxes contributed. Please be advised that virtually no state money raised from gasoline taxes is being spent on bicycle oriented infrastructure.

    It’s true, in your area (I am in Seattle) that many routes are state roads and are used by bicycles. How many of those roads have a bike lane to ride in. Correct me if I’m wrong, but by my observation it is very few. In Seattle, of course, there are many roads with bike lanes. However all or nearly all are city streets and are not funded by state taxes. Thus, overall, almost no state money raised from gas taxes is going into bicycle facilities. Do you feel it’s fair to ask bicyclists to pay taxes and not get anything in return? I certainly do not.

    Second, have you considered the effect of freight trucks on our highways? These vehicles weigh many times the amount of passenger vehicles and, yet, pay a disproportionately low percentage of tax. They cause enormous damage to our roads without reasonable compensation. In addition, they spew large amounts of particulate into the air. Once you have successfully addressed raising state taxes for freight trucks proportionally to the wear & tear they cause to roadways then, and only then, are you justified in talking about taxes generated by bicyclists.

    Finally, don’t forget that usually bicyclists own cars and pay gas (or alt. fuel) taxes already. So, nobody is really getting a “free ride”.

    I’m glad you are concerned for your constituents in SW Washington, but get your facts straight before you are ridiculed out of your seat.

    Peri Hartman

    1. wayne ostler

      Has anyone heard of a gas called Carbon MONoxide.
      I don’t think its emitted by cyclists…

  7. Bill

    If this guy’s life goal is minimal respiration, I would say he is succeeding. His brain evinces chronic hypoxia.

  8. DrGeoduck

    Orcutt is either an idiot, or he has an agenda.

    Or both. The two are not mutually exclusive.

  9. TC

    A republican into taxes? Its almost funny if it wasn’t so stupid.

  10. I did a little back-of-the envelope math to figure out just how much Seattle cyclists are free-riding on gas tax revenues: http://singlespeedseattle.com/rep-orcutt-on-those-freeloading-polluting-bicycles/

  11. Cycling lowers the number of accidental injuries for which we pay vast quantities of money to treat medically. In the longer term, cyclists develop fit and healthy bodies, reducing the slow decline in health that results from a sedentary lifestyle. This makes cyclists much less of a burden on the government than others. Bikes should not be taxed. Cycling should be encouraged, not discouraged.

  12. Tammi

    Wow, a troll as an elected official! How quaint. Man, he’s going to rickroll us soon, isn’t he?

  13. Peter Schwar

    Cycling may be bad but joggers are the worst. I vote to ban jogging. Joggers are really the reason for Global Warming!

    1. Erik G.

      Ban sex!

      1. John Messinger

        Don’t ban sex, tax sex!

  14. Tony

    Here is my e-mail to this elected official:

    I have just seen a copy of your email to Dale concerning a tax on bicycles. Are you serious?

    I will keep this e-mail short as I refuse to waste my time communicating to someone with your lack of logic. As a public servant, you should be ashamed of your position on this subject as outlined in your e-mail. Unbelievable!

  15. Mark

    Someone in this world actually believes that an “increased heart rate and respiration” is bad for the environment? Are you kidding me? Perhaps he has a lot of shares in the medical system and wants to see a big return on his investment in the years to come :-).

  16. Dave M

    Politicians have said some very dumb things over the years, and I mean *very* dumb. But, this statement is the DUMBEST by far!!! Wow. Where do you even start…

  17. Arrellis

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but humans don’t generate CO2 but merely exhale what’s already in the atmosphere.

    1. John Messinger

      Sorry no, CO2 is a product of aerobic respiration. In its simplest form we ingest sugar as glucose and breath in Oxygen then via aerobic respiration we exhale carbon dioxide and water. (C6H12O6 + 3O2 -> 6H2O + 6CO2). Orcutt is correct in that the harder we peddle the faster we exhale CO2. However, he still is to be excoriated for assuming that the public that elected him is so stupid they do not understand that a 4000 lb vehicle is oxidizing fossil fuels and producing CO2 at a much higher rate. Many engineering programs require freshman students to crank through the math and demonstrate that a human on a bicycle is the most efficient way to convert chemical energy into kinetic energy.

    2. Jason

      Well, you would exhale the C02 already in the atmosphere, but you also make more when you breathe. People, and all animals, turn oxygen into CO2 as a waste product of being alive. Plants do the opposite.

      1. Jeannette

        At the risk of being pedantic, plants also continuously burn oxygen and sugar and generate CO2 as a by-product of metabolism and respiration. However, they also combine CO2 with water and convert it to sugar and oxygen during photosynthesis, so taken over a 24-hour cycle, they have a net effect of reducing CO2 and increasing oxygen.

  18. Wow. This made me laugh. Almost snorted beer out my nose. Thanks for the pic of Ed…reminds me of highschool yearbook photos. Kinda sad that we elected him.

    So when do I start paying tax on my shoes when I run to work? Be sure to tax me by mileage too…9 miles each way.



    I still can’t stop laughing.

  19. I just farted. Damn…I forgot to pay tax on the gas I just emitted.

    And I just burped. Orcutt for President!

  20. You can’t make this stuff up…

  21. rehana

    Arrellis: You’re wrong. He’s even right that we produce more on a bike than lazing around. But the amount a human produces is much less than a car.

    1. Chris

      The CO2 produced by people does not matter because we exhale CO2 that was already in the biosphere. All carbon we eat came from plants, whether we’re eating vegetables or animals, which means that all of the carbon we eat came out of the atmosphere. No matter how much we exercise, it’s all carbon neutral. The same thing goes for biodiesel and bonfires. For the latter two, there may be pollution to worry about (particulates for example) but these things do nothing to cause climate change.

    2. John Murphy

      When I ride a bike, my heart rate spikes.

      Later that day, due to my bike riding, my resting heart rate is 42. What is Orcutt’s? Mid 60’s?

      I think he owes me some taxes.

  22. Brian

    Just another low-level clown politician pontificating from his rectal fuselage about things he has a weak grasp of at best.

  23. Mike

    Ed sounds like an idiot, but his words having weight is not his fault; it’s the fault of the people that voted for him and the ones who could have voted against him but didn’t bother to vote at all.

    He’s a representative; elected to represent. He could be as dumb as a box of rocks; but people voted for him, they PICKED him to represent them.

    Still… as dumb as his email is… I’m surprised he’s not an Arizona legislator. He’d fit right in representing Mesa.

  24. Doug

    Bicycling doesn’t produce tax revenue? What did I do wrong? I paid $70 in sales tax on the bike frame I bought today!

  25. Another lame excuse to hate bicyclists for making drivers pay attention to the road, if for nothing else to keep from getting scratches on their cars when they run over us. The argument is specious: a cyclist burns calories at the equivalent rate of 900 miles per gallon of gasoline, with correspondingly low carbon emissions. I’ve been bike commuting and touring for almost 40 years: by this calculation, I’ve contributed to global warming in that time about as much as one car trip to Western Montana, and probably a lot less than Rep. Orcutt contributes commuting between home and Olympia during the legislative session, an exercise that appears to be a total waste of carbon credits. And the wear and tear on the rough and unmaintained pavement outside the fog line where we ride when there is no bike lane is negligible for a vehicle that weighs, loaded, 1/20th as much as a car and less than a truck’s front bumper. The frightening part is that too many people are willing to accept these flawed arguments about bicyclists as freeloaders (and now, polluters) that just won’t go away.

  26. LWC

    Simple to calculate: atmospheric CO2 is below 1%, while we breath out air with about 5% CO2. A full human breath is on order 3 liters, so that means about 100mL of CO2 are produced per breath.

    Typical breathing rate is ~30 breaths per minute. Let’s say you double that when riding. That’s about 30 x 100mL = 3L of CO2 per minute. At 12mph, a cyclist will produce about 15L excess CO2 per mile, or about 30g.

    Now to cars… a gallon of gas produces about 10kg of CO2, and a typical car will get about 30 mpg. That means that driving releases about 300g of CO2 per mile, ten times that of a respirating cyclist.

    Granted, these are just rough numbers, but they give an idea of the order of magnitude we are dealing with. Also, we should keep in mind that CO2 is only a tiny part of the pollution story… but I’m preaching to the choir here.

    1. Tim

      A cyclists with a VO2max of 70ml/kg/min is going to use approximately 4.9L per minute. 70ml/kg/min is a pretty reasonable number, and would put you at the pointy end of about a B grade race. Olympic athletes? Somewhere around 85-90ml/kg/min, at about 65kg.
      The average person who sits around on his ass all day and doesn’t do a lot of sport might be closer to 35-45ml/kg/min.

      That should give you some numbers to play with.

      1. Paul N

        Don’t forget that the driver is still sitting in the car, breathing. So his or her “resting respiration rate” is still producing CO2 emissions in addition to what the vehicle is producing. Shall we propose a tax for everybody that rides in a car and doesn’t hold their breath?

  27. Joel S.

    I REALLY want to know if this man actually believes the things he says, or is he just trying to make some headlines???!!!

    Where is the tax for elected officials that say things like this?

    1. Lee T

      Joel I think you’re on to something. If we taxed all the stupidity that comes out of politicians mouths we could drop all other taxes.

  28. Riddley Walker

    Cars are charged registration by weight and the damage they do. In NSW, a 1.51-tonne car costs $459 to register and a 950-kilogram vehicle, $243; on that sliding scale, what might the owner of a 10-kilogram bicycle pay?
    At approximately $3.50 a kilo, that is $35 a year. Now try to recover the cost of the infrastructure required to manage rego out of that! And consider that every cyclist then would be fully justified in taking up a full lane, (legally that is permitted now, in any case). Yep, I am in favour of bike registration too!

    Someone else solved the registration numbers algebraically (linearly) and returned a -$119.14 fee to register a bicycle? i.e. the government should pay $119.14 to every cyclist every year to ride a bike. Sounds about right.

    1. Bill

      Cool. Orcutt is being ridiculed worldwide!

      In Washington State logic does not prevail the way it perhaps does in Australia. Car registration is a flat fee regardless of weight or value, plus some small taxes for transportation projects. Heavy commercial vehicles pay weight fees, although I do not know if they adequately cover the damage done. Fuel taxes cover only a portion of road costs, and receipts are falling as cars become more fuel efficient.

      1. Rose Tresch

        The people who really do not pay for the costs associated with roads are the corporations. They use the roads to bring their products to market, they rely on the roads to be in good condition so that customers can frequent their stores, their employees use the roads to get to and from work. Basically, corporations use the infrastructure the most, but pay the least towards upkeep and replacement.

  29. People are missing the point about “user fees.” It is NOT whether cyclists pay fuel taxes because they also own cars, but rather whether the sales and property taxes they pay offset the wear and tear their bikes do to the world. To answer that, simply imagine the road system that would be needed if there were only pedestrians and cyclists. In truth, I’m looking forward to my rebate. Taxing cyclists to pay for bike lanes? Those bike lanes are at least as much for motorists as for cyclists. Just as is the case with sidewalks. It is odd to see a Republican making any sort of carbon tax argument…

  30. Raul

    I like his sense of humor, he knew it would stir up the Trolls!

    On a more serious note though, you have to be a Nut to call CO2 a pollutant, all animal life breathes it out, and all plant life would die without it.

    1. Tim

      Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

      1. Econut

        Never attribute to wit that which can be explained by cut and paste..

  31. K

    How about a tax on hot air, which teabagger politicians like him generate in vast quantities. Or a tax on human-generated methane, which apparently this guy is able to emit from his brain. Or a stupid tax, assessed on things that people like him say that waste everyone’s time and valuable electrons. Where in the constitution does it say that you have a right to be stupid and offensive–or fart, for that matter?

    What kinds of morons vote for such politicians? He makes chimpy look smart. And chimpy used to ride a bike, at least.

    1. Econut

      When you spit out the hook, make sure you also get rid of the line, reel, rod, and cuff-links..

  32. First, what a ridiculous statement by Rep. Orcutt. However, the reasons bikes aren’t as environmentally friendly as they might seem include the environmental impact of the ultra-light materials used in modern bicycles, the requirement for flat and smooth surfaces to ride on, and the medical costs of all the injuries that occur in a true biking society.

    Also, the link to the budgets of the WSDOT is misleading. The money essentially comes from two major sources, the gas tax and the federal government (majority from the gas tax and the federal money is primarily used on the interstates and cross water bridges). The misleading charts show that the state uses debt to build roads (that bicyclists need to ride) and pays it off with revenue from the gas tax (and a few other things). Since federal funds are involved, Cowlitz County is helping paying for all our roads

    Paying a tax on the bicycles instead of expecting to ride for free would give greater legitimacy to the request for cars to share the road.

    Last, the intolerance of the biking community is strongly demonstrated in the hate speech used in the comments sections here. If all involved in the discussions about biking were civil, then maybe we could get somewhere.

    NOTE: I rode bicycles for transportation for years but am too old now. I always share the road but strongly wish bicyclists would have turn lights similar to cars (head/tail, brake and turn) and motorists would quit tailgating me when I can’t pass.

    1. Although roads are certainly nice for cycling, they are not actually necessary. I grew up riding trails and chipseal (as well as roads). Mountain bikes have no need of roads, and technically neither do road bikes. Yesterday, Italy’s Strade Bianche pro bike race displayed that it’s entirely possible to traverse long distances at high speeds on dirt and gravel. http://goo.gl/zPULF

      Legitimacy is not needed in the request for auto drivers to share the road. Stiff penalties for running down or neglecting cyclists are needed. Equal regard for fellow human beings is needed. People offer more regard to dogs than cyclists.

      1. Econut

        I think Japan has it right – the largest, least manuverable vehicle has the right of way. Exquisite example of harmoneous fusion of logic and consequence rarely found in the euphemistic “civilized society”.
        Certainly not here.

    2. John Messinger

      “Paying a tax on the bicycles instead of expecting to ride for free would give greater legitimacy to the request for cars to share the road.” Makes way to much sense.

      I ride to work on accasion and I listen to folks who truly believe that bicycles do not belong on the road because they pay no road use tax or registration. A simple excise tax on the weight of a vehicle (say $0.10 per pound) that included all wheeled vehicles including bicycles, would drive home the point that bicycles are better for all involved.

  33. Richard

    Ed, you opening your pie hole is a waste of air and a drag on the rest of us. Please just shut ‘yer yapper!

  34. James T.

    Obviously, Rep. Orcutt is an incompetent individual, I base this assessment upon his reasoning, the ill consequences of his proposal, and the long term second and third order effects to individual freedom that will occur should Orcutt achieve progress in his objective of bike tax legislation. Sadly and as his current proposal suggests, it’s altogether likely that he has always been prone to foolish undertaking, although I’m sure verbally adept when it comes to concealing his shortcomings reference his slight capacity for logic and reason. Nonetheless, it is those people who voted this imbecile into office who are ultimately responsible for this ill conceived proposal…as imbeciles beget imbeciles. Hopefully, the reasonable people of Washington and specifically his district are now astute enough to insist on the tabling Rep. Orcutt’s new bike tax legislation and after that his ouster from the public payroll and from office, which can only serve as beneficial in end state to the citizens of Washington.

  35. Politicians produce CO2 as well…..
    The politician of question appears to have not done his homework all that well. Sounds like it is more “just a feeling”, ..like that should be done.
    The benefits of riding a bicycle or any exercise for that matters include mental and physical benefits. The body requires activity that elevates the heart rate to ensure function. It is a sort of “move it or lose it” proposition. You can’t stay healthy unless you participate in healthy activities such as hiking, walking, biking, swimming. Having visited the politician’s district,..it would appear that the politician should explore incentives,..not disincentives for his constituents to exercise. In a time where our country and especially his district is battling obesity,…it is not right to tax activity. If you are taxing bicycling,..you should tax little leagues, bowling leagues, pop warner football leagues, non-profit bingo leagues,…etc. Also, when you look at bicycling as a means of transportation. Bicycling often times is utilized by less privileged individuals for basic transportation needs. These are hardly the people we need to increase taxes upon. I would ask that the politician be a little more creative in his political problem solving.

  36. Emily

    Driving a car 3 miles produces more CO2 than an entire day of human respiration.

  37. William J. Bramwell

    Recognizing first that the imbecilic comments from this legislator don’t even deserve a response …. here is one: to the legislator, I can’t understand how your smart enough to even chew your own food!

    from a cyclist

    1. Econut

      You should have stuck with your first instinct..

  38. […] at the Seattle Bike Blog talked to Rep. Orcutt today to confirm that he does believe bicyclists are polluting the air through excessive […]

  39. […] State lawmaker defends bike tax, says bicycling is not good for the environment | Seattle Bike Blog. […]

  40. Kevin

    I like how he implies CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas nor pollutant.

  41. John A. Bailo

    I was riding up a hill here in Kent when one of those yellow scholl buses passed me. The fumes were so noxious I felt like throwing up, and the metallic taste stated in my mouth for several days afterward!

    If anything we should be paying bicyclists to compensate them for all the noxious emissions from other vehicles. And long term we should do something about it.

    Sign this Petition to the White House to Build A Hydrogen Economy:


    1. Econut

      “The fumes were so noxious I felt like throwing up, and the metallic taste stated in my mouth for several days afterward!”

      Thanks for filtering that crap out of the atmosphere.. (maybe for the sake of the environment we should require bicyclists to stop at bus stops and then FOLLOW the buses instead of strap their bikes to the front and ride ’em across town and bridges like the 520).

  42. Wat

    Why do we let someone with the intelligence of a Seattle Times commentor make public policy?

  43. SaintSinner

    I hope he’s just trolling the constituency, but if he’s serious, he needs to stop having sex. After all, sex leads to an increased heart rate and respiration, resulting in more CO2 being released into the atmosphere and isn’t environmentally friendly

  44. Brad Hawkins

    I found some figures on the internet:

    Human respiration per year: 1.362 x 10^9 tonnes/year or about 130 kilos.
    Average car CAFE rate of 21.6mpg per year: 4.8 metric tons CO2E /vehicle/year 4800 kilos.

    The difference is that we only drive part of the day but breathe all the time so let’s say I drive and ride a bike for the same amount of time, let’s say an hour a day. That would mean 5 kilos per year from biking and 4800 from a car or roughly 1000 times as much CO2 per year. So I guess 1000 cyclists would emit about as much as one sedan/minivan. There you go.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      You also have to add in the respiration rate of the person driving. The only relevant bit of data is the difference between sitting respiration and biking. But then again, what if the driver is singing really loudly? They might be respirating more than me cruising at a comfortable pace on my bike. Maybe there should be a singing in the car tax?

  45. DocAmazing

    As a Californian, I am grateful to Rep. Orcutt for demonstrating that we here in the Golden State have no monopoly on truly dumb legislators.

  46. EQ

    You, sir, are a Cotton-headed Ninny-muggins. Until the entire populace of the United States is huffing and puffing on bicycles, the environmental “impact” is nonexistent, compared to cars, trains, buses, trucks, tractor trailers, mining, BIG OIL, and other endeavors supported by politicians such as yourself.

    1. Econut

      “Until the entire populace of the United States is huffing and puffing on bicycles, the environmental “impact” is nonexistent,..” With just half the population huffing and puffing on bicycles, you’d clean the air of all those pollutants generated by “cars, trains, buses, trucks, tractor trailers, mining, BIG OIL, and other endeavors … “. The environmental impact would be phenomenal.

  47. Paul

    what. a. loser.

    Then again, most everyone in America wants to be a CEO right after school, so why not believe that bicycling generates more CO2? Sadder even is that this cretin actually believes this. Maybe he thinks dinosaur-riding jesus is coming in the rapture too. wtf??

  48. […] Washington state Rep. Ed Orcutt (R), in an email to a constituent reproduced by the Seattle Bike Blog. Taegan Goddard’s Political […]

  49. Herbie

    After this – ““You would be giving off more CO2 if you are riding a bike than driving in a car,” – presumably this guy is going to be locked up in a mental institution?

    1. Trevor

      The statement is accurate. YOU as in “your person” will indeed be giving off more carbon dioxide riding a bike as opposed to sitting in your car.

  50. […] This gem could / perhaps should go in one of the cycle campaigning topics, but this is it's real home: http://seattlebikeblog.com/2013/03/0…ould-be-taxed/ […]

  51. keith

    This rep’s comments are clearly disingenuous. I totally support bikers.

    BUT, I’ve done the math in the past, and bicycle commuting actually burns a ton of calories. Many of those calories are provided via a food supply chain that uses great amounts of petroleum. According to my calculations, gasoline for your car is cheaper per mile than food to drive your legs for your bicycle. Food for thought.

    1. DocAmazing

      Because everyone knows that motorists don’t eat.

      1. Herbie

        …plus you have to add in the environmental cost of building the car in the first place, and average that out per mile too.

    2. Scott

      Keith, the only problem with your calculations is the apparent assumption that a cyclist eats more than a non cyclist. Looking around at what comes out of those 8mpg SUVs I’d say that there is a lot more calories being consumed… unhealthy ones at that. More likely that the cyclist gives a damn about their health and is more likely to be sourcing their food locally, organically… I see a lot of bikes at the farmers markets around here. When you consider a bike as a method of transportation vs. the cyclist training for double centuries, the difference between someone sitting in their car eating a breakfast burrito and sucking on a grande mocha and the intake of the bike commuter sipping on water and a banana or an energy bar doesn’t add up to a higher transportation/consumption/killing the planet rating for the cyclist. Neither does the idiotic bit about comparing sourcing for materials… like that 3 lb. carbon bike frame had a higher impact on the environment than the interior trim on your average car, much less the car as a whole. These comparisons like to take the entire lifecycle of a bike from raw materials to construction to transportation to usage and disposal and compare all that to just the tailpipe emissions of the motor vehicle. How about all the rest of that stuff for the car/truck? How about the carbon/ carbon dioxide and other pollutants in just MAKING that gallon of gasoline… finding the oil, transporting the oil rigs, energy drilling for it, pollution from spilling it, energy used transporting the crude, energy used refining the crude to gasoline and motor oil, the energy then used to transport it again to stations, the energy used pumping it at each stop, the energy costs of the gas stations, and energy costs of the repair shops fixing and servicing the car, the water… oh gee whiz the water consumed by the cyclist vs. the water consumed by your windsheild wipers, cooling system, washing the car and the hazardous waste from that… the energy consumed vacuuming out your car, the energy consumed creating the pressurized air to fill the tires… it’s endless. And yet, all that energy to create and maintain a motor vehicle by huge numbers of people (hey… energy consumed by the DMV and you and me standing in line to get tabs, to get emissions tests, to get licenses, to get insurance, the energy wasted mailing a monthly bill for the loan, for the insurance, once a year for the notice for tabs, for the oil change reminders. The energy for the second set of studded tires and the energy for taking it to the tire shop to have them changed and the energy for the tire shop lifting my car and removing the wheels and swapping the tires and running the computer and light and accounting to charge me for that stuff. I don’t get any of those for my bike. The entire system of industries built around disposing of my car when it is worn out, hulk haulers cruising around in 30 year old smoking puking flat beds at 6mpg if they are lucky, the wrecking yard and all the people using all those energy systems to sort, move, remove, invoice, light clean all those parts people pick off it’s skeleton, and then the industry of getting the remains to the metal guys that strip the carcass further and fire up the really nasty machinery that tears it apart, chops it up, separates the materials, melts it down, crushes/burns etc.. leaving piles of carbon, metal and fabric to deal with further. My favorite bike is a custom built for me Ciocc I had made almost 30 years ago… good light steel tubing. It’s been changed out as I’ve changed shape and size, so the seat and handlebars and stem aren’t original. Still the original drivetrain with the exception of one shifter being replaced a few years ago, tires and tubes and handlebar tape. I think even the chain is original. Shall we compare to anything motor driven in life cost over 30 years?

      1. Richard Schuster

        Here in Little Siberia aka Minnesota, I have to replace my chain every couple of years because of sand and salt. I should be taxed extra for living in this frozen hell-hole.

  52. Thang

    What a freaking idiot! Politicians like him will ruin this great country.

    1. Econut

      Where have *you* been for the last 30 years?

  53. […] A Washington State Representative is defending his support for a tax on bicycles on the grounds that biking creates more pollution than driving a car: […]

  54. Frank

    Eat another hot dog and climb into your Hummer, Ed — I hear that’s better for your health than bicycling.

  55. Hell hath no fury like BIKIES scorned. Let’s send out the WWWWWAAAAABULANCE!!

    We ought all genuflect to those that are saving the Planet with but genrous portions of sanctimonious smuggery

    1. Carn Marth

      ‘We ought’ – nice spelling.
      ‘the Planet’ – no capital there, dear.
      ‘genrous’ – genius.

      1. Herbie

        Is there any other spelling of ‘ought’? Nought that is anything but text-speak!

      2. @Carn Marth;

        I missed the ‘e’ in generous. When using “Planet” as a proper noun (as in what environoiacs have fooled themselves into believing they’re saving) it is capitalized. Apparently both @Herbie and myself are either both right, or we’re both wrong.

        Perhaps you *ought* loosen the chin strap of your BIKIE helmet; O2 deficit can make people commit grievous errors of judgement.

        Pretty clear evidence of that, here.

  56. Truth Hurts

    You breath, therefore you produce CO2, and you’ll have to be taxed for that!

  57. James Evans

    The idiot from Missouri said women could shut their bodies down from conception during a “legitamate” rape and the equally stupid hoosier didn’t want the MO idiot to be the only right wing idiot to be voted out and said something equally stupid. Now this bozo wants to tax bikes and offers this idiotic rationale!!! When are we all going to see the reality of Tritt’s “The rich man’s busy dancing while the poor man pays the band”?

    1. Econut

      Maybe when they have valet parking for bicycles at the dance club???

  58. […] 自転車税導入の理由「心拍数が上がって二酸化炭素を排出するから」(Seattle Bike Blog) […]

  59. marvelrae

    Wow – a republican nit wit – gee what a surprise.. WHY is this idiot still IN office?? seriously?? dang – he’s certainly living up to his compatriots examples isnt he….. :(

    1. Econut

      I suspect the Democrat nit wit he defeated was underfunded.. (the impoverished and unemployed in cowlitz co that Chrismealy refers to probably don’t contribute much $$ to political campaigns)

  60. […] The ranking Republican member on Washington state’s House Transportation Committee thinks that riding bicycles causes more pollution than driving cars, the Seattle Bike Blog reported Saturday. […]

  61. […] The ranking Republican member on Washington state’s House Transportation Committee thinks that riding bicycles causes more pollution than driving cars, the Seattle Bike Blog reported Saturday. […]

  62. Trevor

    Well, he’s not wrong. You WILL release more CO2 during exercise, as compared to sitting stationary.

    Whether this amount is significant when compared to vehicles – he makes no statement about that.

    But his statement is accurate.

    1. Carn Marth

      ‘You WILL release more CO2 during exercise, as compared to sitting stationary.’
      As others have pointed-out, this applies to a whole range of activities, not just cycling. Those other activities – running, having sex, etc – are not taxed.

      ‘Whether this amount is significant when compared to vehicles – he makes no statement about that.’
      That’s because there is no ‘statement’ to make. The emissions are utterly negligible when compared to vehicles. Beyond that, he ignores facts such as a) cycles are far less dangerous to people than cars – I’d rather be hit by the former than the latter, and b) we get fit while cycling, while motorists get fatter, and more stressed, behind their steering wheels. Worse, his letter actually states that cyclists should be paying road tax *instead* of motorists. The man is an absolute moron.

  63. Anthony Long

    Really ! You guys elected this guy ?
    America is laughing stock of the developed world and when you continually see this type of thing ( amongst other things) coming up again and again from the folks that you have “running the show” it’s not hard to see why.
    What is really sad is that I have met so many americans here in Australia and abroad who are genuinely nice, caring, happy, considerate and thoughtful people whose values and beliefs are in total contrast with those espoused by your government. Maybe the reason they are so happy is they are not in america.
    God help america.

    1. Econut

      Indeed, we are the laughing stock of the world – we have a Sec of Defense loved by the Iranians, a blathering idiot for a Sec of State, and an unnamed “very senior white house official” (not a person of palor) who explains the shortage of translators in Afghanistan on the need for arab translators in Iraq (Afghani’s speak Pashto, Farsi, or other non-arabic languages). I highly doubt the tongue-in-cheek email of a state representative about bicycle-breath is going to get much coverage, much less ridicule, against that backdrop.

  64. While people do exhale carbon dioxide (the rate is approximately 1 kg per day, and it depends strongly on the person’s activity level), this carbon dioxide includes carbon that was originally taken out of the carbon dioxide in the air by plants through photosynthesis – whether you eat the plants directly or animals that eat the plants. Thus, there is a closed loop, with no net addition to the atmosphere.

    Thus, it is obvious that cars that burn petrochemicals actually CREATES new CO2 that was not part of the original ecosystem.

    This “elected” gentleman is a blatant idiot!

    1. Econut


      You obviously chose biology in lieu of chemistry in high school.

  65. Econut

    Bicycle’s and joggers are great for the environment and should be encouraged. Their lungs filter far more air and trap and store pollutants than the rest of the more sedate population.

  66. area13

    What a FOOL.

  67. ‘Am I dumb or what?

    I’m sorry did I miss something?! When my father was alive after his massive heart attack his Heart Dr. asked him if he had a bicycle and he told him yes. He was then told to build himself up to riding 5 miles one way 2x a day. As I was pregnant during this time my OB/GYN told me that it would be good for me and the baby to go riding with him. I never felt better and had an easy delivery. My dad ended up being able to ride over 20 miles per day. Biking is good for You and I wish I could still do it, but I had a lot of health issues that won’t allow it. Biking is not only good for You but it is also a way of getting to meet Your neighbors, and to see the area You live in a lot better than being in a car.

  68. Alex

    Just in case anyone wants to email him on this topic, here is Ed Orcutt’s email.

    [email protected]

    I’m sure he’ll appreciate being given the correct information on these topics.

    1. Econut

      If nothing else he’ll certainly enjoy the laughs..

      1. Paul N

        So many comment responses, Econut, stop and take a breath. Oh….wait….

  69. Sumit Sureka

    They should start taxing even those people who walks, run, jog and even workout.

  70. […] can’t just say that there’s no pollution as a result of riding a bicycle”, he claimed in a follow-up statement made to a Seattle bike […]

  71. […] “When we are roving your bicycle, tell me what taxes are being generated by a act of roving your bicycle,” Orcutt pronounced to a Seattle Bike Blog. […]

  72. […] in Iowa, who thinks cycling generates more CO2 than if driving a car. You can't make this stuff up: State lawmaker defend bike tax, says bicycling not good for environment […]

  73. Rahul m

    He is a genius. Even Einstein couldn’t have thought of this logic.

  74. EC Velo

    With his eyes that far apart he is likely a victim of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. We can blame his mother only partially for how fucking stupid this piece of garbage is.

  75. Sara H

    Ed Orcutt is a serious waste of oxygen.

    Incredible that someone of such obvious limited understanding can be in such a powerful position. He needs to be fired immediately.

  76. The greater mystery is how this idiot managed to graduate high school, let alone be elected to office. Does he still believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth fairy as well? I am also guessing that Sesame Street numbers was about as far as he managed to get with mathematics.

  77. Hahahahahahahahahahahaha – the stupid it ::BURNS::

  78. Carn Marth

    Is that a wig?

  79. […] Instead, the CO poison issue has nearly vanished.  This is very irritating.  Here is more information about taxes for roads from a bike advocate website:  State lawmaker defends bike tax, says bicycling is not good for the environment | Seattle Bike Blog […]

  80. […] “You would be giving off more CO2 if you are riding a bike than driving in a car,” he said. However, he said he had not “done any analysis” of the difference in CO2 from a person on a bike compared to the engine of a car (others have)’. From : http://seattlebikeblog.com/2013/03/02/state-lawmaker-says-bicycling-is-not-good-for-the-environment-… […]

  81. rcannon100

    Well thank dog! I am tired for Virginia being the Nation’s official repository of moronic legislatures. It’s good to see another state deflecting some attention.

  82. ImpureScience

    My understanding is that this article has gained national notice, and further, has found its way into the proceedings of the Galactic Federation where, I’m sorry to report, our application for membership has been tabled for another 100 years.

  83. […] State lawmaker defends bike tax, says bicycling is not good for the environment | Seattle Bike Blog Representative Ed Orcutt (R – Kalama) does not think bicycling is environmentally friendly because the activity causes cyclists to have “an increased heart rate and respiration.” This is according to comments he made in an email to a constituent who questioned the wisdom of a new bike tax the legislature is considering as part of a large transportation package. We spoke with Rep. Orcutt to confirm the email’s authenticity and to get further clarification. “You would be giving off more CO2 if you are riding a bike than driving in a car,” he said. However, he said he had not “done any analysis” of the difference in CO2 from a person on a bike compared to the engine of a car (others have). Democratic Underground Reply With Quote […]

  84. Lord Von PS3

    This guy is Total Recall’s Cohagen incarnate and a fool to boot.

    1) People produce CO2 both at rest and whilst exercising. One would have to stop breathing to stop producing CO2. If one is driving a car – one is still producing CO2. The only comparison here is that cars emit additional CO2 (and create more CO2 in production) – where bicycles emit no CO2 (and less CO2 is created in production).

    2) Person A who exercises the same effort per day as person B will inhale different amounts of air per breath and produce a different amount of CO2 per breath. Different people have different lung capacities and abilities to absorb Oxygen. How does one plan to establish a “right to breathe” tax?

    3) A person who exercises might have a long life span (e.g. due to exercising) or a cut-short one (e.g. due to some other factor like getting run over by a bus). One cannot account for – let alone calculate how to tax – how much CO2 a person produces over their total life span any more than one can determine how long they will live.

    Welcome to planet Earth, home of the foolish and the fools that follow them.

  85. Christine

    Here is my e-mail to Ed:

    Dear Mr Orcutt–
    Could you please provide facts to back up recent statements you made about the CO2 emissions caused by riding a bicycle?

    How much CO2 do cyclists create compared to cars?

    In addition to CO2, do cyclists create any other emissions such as particulate matter, NOx, VOCs, or carbon monoxide?

    Lastly, in light of the fact that diseases of sedentary living are the number one killer of Americans*, do you think there could be health (and thus financial) benefits to encouraging higher levels of active transportation through the development of multi-modal transportation infrastructure in Washington communities?

    I look forward to your responses and thank you for your service to State of Washington.



  86. Jeremy

    I didn’t think it was worth saying, but there appears to be some confusion on here about whether or not Ed is factually correct is stating that bikers increase environmental CO2 due to respiration. That is not correct. Breathing results in no net increase in CO2 simply because you are inhaling CO2 from the air, and then exhaling it back out. No emissions are generated. The carbon cycle shows us this, and most of us should have learned this in middle school.

    Here’s a link: http://www.skepticalscience.com/breathing-co2-carbon-dioxide.htm

  87. […] more coverage on this at SeattleBikeBlog, Cascade Bicycle Club blog, KentsBike Blog, and, appropriately, Comedy […]

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