His main point was that bicyclists do not pay gas taxes when biking and should pay some kind of tax to help fund state-built bike lanes. Rep. Ed Orcutt, the top minority Republican on the House Transportation Committee, probably wishes he had left it at that.
But in an email that was printed Saturday on the Cascade Bicycle Clubs blog and then all over the Internet, Orcutt continued with this comment:
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.
Of course, bicyclists emissions are minuscule compared to cars and if they are polluting, so is anyone with a pulse. The blogosphere and its commenters jumped all over him, with some sites even suggesting that he was proposing a carbon tax. Thats probably one of the farthest things from the mind of Orcutt, a stridently anti-tax conservative from Kalama.
He got a chance to clarify and retract his comments, calling them over the top, when the BikePortland blog asked him to respond:
Although I have always recognized that bicycling emits less carbon than cars, I see I did a poor job of indicating that within my e-mail. My 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 both for bringing it up and for the wording of the e-mail.
His spokesman confirmed today that he sent the two e-mails. In fact, Orcutt responds personally to every e-mail he receives, Brendon Wold said.
His whole point was to try to say, just because you ride a bike doesnt mean your carbon footprint is zero, Wold said.