Rep Ed Orcutt to Bicyclists, “Pay Your Fair Share”

by lewwaters

Ed Orcutt

Ed Orcutt

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.

Orcutt says,

“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.”

12 Comments to “Rep Ed Orcutt to Bicyclists, “Pay Your Fair Share””

  1. On many streets, bicycle lanes take away parking spots (in dense cities). Often, these could have been metered parking spots, so the bicycles reduce parking revenues (where such bicycle lanes exist). Bicycle lanes either take away pavement that could be used by automobiles, or require additional pavement for the bicycle lane — making the cost of highway improvement with bicycle lanes more expensive. There are countless services that bicyclists require that add to the cost of transportation improvements.

    But the best approach would be to turn all transportation over to private industry and let the free market sort it all out. The current government roads, transit, and bicycle lane system, depends far to much on political pressures rather than practical market based solutions.


  2. First, we have freedom in this country to move around. How free are we if we can’t move around unless we do it in a $20,000 vehicle that weighs 4,000 pounds? Moving under ones own power, on foot or on a bike, is a fundamental freedom.

    Second, nearly all city streets are paid for out of property taxes not vehicle or gas taxes so car drivers are contributing nothing additional towards the maintenance of city streets by paying licence tabs or gas tax.

    Third, I own 3 cars including 2 gas hogs. I spend roughly $100 per month just on the taxes for the fuel my family uses. Why should I have more right to be on the road when I happen to be driving my Suburban than I do when I am riding my bike?

    Fourth. The only reason cyclists advocate for “extra facilities” is because many people won’t ride because they don’t feel safe. In Washington state it is legal for me to take the lane on a bike anywhere it isn’t specifically prohibited (Mainly I-90 and I-5 in the Seattle area). I don’t need extra facilities. I take the lane and I don’t need to move over just because some jerk is impatient behind. me. However, I’d like to see fewer cars on the road and I’d like the roads and sidewalks in the City of Vancouver to be safer for everyone – Pedestrians, Cyclists, Children and Motorists and having bicycle facilities and getting more women and children out cycling will accomplish that.

    And BTW I am a registered republican and consider myself a conservative.


  3. Well Paul, whatever you consider yourself is irrelevant.

    Yes, we have freedom to move around in whatever we wish, also irrelevant.

    As for “safety,” if you wish to be safe how is it you also feel you have “equal rights” to the road and go out and compete with “a $20,000 vehicle that weighs 4,000 pounds?”

    Regardless, you are asking for a special lane and designation. Whether roads are paid for and maintained by gas tax, property tax, or whatever tax, you want an extra lane designated for the sole use of bicycles, but seem to feel that you should not have to kick in just a little to help pay for them.

    That is just wrong.

    Time to pay your fair share.

    Incidentally, I also own a bicycle and ride it occasionally. I also live adjacent to a street that was just widened to accommodate bicycle lanes, surrendering about 6 feet of my property, 4-20 year growth arborvitae that could not be saved and now have a sidewalk less than 10 feet outside my kitchen window.

    And you balk at a measly $25 to help defray the cost of something you want?


  4. Paul, personally I’d like to see fewer bicyclists on the road – some jerk is always in the way, and I own several bicycles. Which of our preferences takes precedence? Do you, perhaps, feel morally superior to me in some way because you ride a bicycle so your preferences come first? Frankly, if you pay for your consumption of public thoroughfare then that’s enough for me.

    And BTW I am a registered Democrat and consider myself a liberal.


  5. We pay for registering 3 vehicles but can only drive one apiece so one is always unused. Unfortunately, we receive no registration reduction because of limited use. We also pay property tax (as do people who ride buses either directly or indirectly through rent). Those who use the roads should pay for the roads. Bicyclists have escaped any financial responsibility for far too long.


  6. I’m entitled to that bicycle lane because it’s there and it’s legal. That’s why. I shouldn’t feel guilty about that. Just like I don’t feel guilty about driving down subsidized streets and parking for free in all that subsidized space. All transportation is subsidized. It really doesn’t matter where the tax comes from, as that’s why it’s called a tax instead of a user fee. Btw, I’m not a bicyclist so much as I like riding them in dense urban areas for transportation – running errands, going to work, etc. where it doesn’t make much sense to take a car with me. I guess I’m spoiled after living in the Netherlands where transportation is such an easy part of life; you ride a bike on separated, completely safe infrastructure in the cities where it’s the fastest way to get around, even on a 60lb. one gear bike with half-flat tires Or you can take a tram, metro, bus, train, scooter, car, ferry… We should be promoting systems like these instead of boxing ourselves into just one way to move around and arguing about who pays what. Who cares? Then again, I’d pay extra taxes just to keep bicyclists in a separated lane so I don’t have to be bothered by them when I’m driving. When I’m riding, all the better. Spend a few months working in Amsterdam and it will change your life, and your perspective.


  7. Nobody is expecting you to feel guilty Paul, just to pay your fair share for an extra you say you’re entitled to.

    Oh, and news flash for you, you’re not in Amsterdam, you’re in America and the rest of us have rights too, not just you.

    If America doesn’t suit you, feel free to return to Amsterdam, nobody forces you to stay here.

    By the way, I spent 3 years in Germany as well and prefer to be here how we have it, not how Europe wants us.

    But bottom line, you’re not owed anything by anybody. You want an extra lane just for your bicycle, pay your fair share for it.


  8. Just toll the pedestrian and bicycle portion of the bridge that is built special for them where I cannot drive my car and we are all good with it. You all will still use it right?


  9. THIS bicyclist says pay it. In my experience, people who don’t have any skin in the game don’t appreciate the sacrifices of those who made it happen by signing the check.

    Just ask the millions on welfare or getting food stamps or free fricking cell phones (Only $2.2 billion worth this past year… and I missed the part in the Constitution that tells us they’re a “right” that the rest of us have to pay for).


  10. This won’t work. 1: it’s going to effectively close down the 3 (4?) local bike shops. Adding $25 + sales tax to the bike is going to have people going to Portland to purchase their bikes. (Vancouver Bike Shop pays the tax for customers to keep them on this side of the river, but that’s not sustainable).
    2: People (in Seattle and other areas not near Oregon) are just going to purchase the bikes over the internet. Yes, we know that we are required to pay the tax, however most online/ out of state retailers aren’t collecting that tax for Washington at this time, and purchasers aren’t going to just pay it out of civic duty until they’re made to.
    3: The number I saw thrown around is $100,000 in tax revenue over 5 (or was it 10)years. That’s just pennies. Wouldn’t even pay the staff to enforce it. (probably the cumulative dry cleaning bill for our legislators).
    4: You can “tax” my bike when you pry it off my cold dead ass.


  11. Will this tax not apply to mountain bikes since most of them are not used on the roads? I am not from the area affected by this rule, but in my area very few mountain bikes ever use the roads. Most mountain bikes are used in off-road areas such as county and state parks at which the trail users pay an entry fee, or on private property. The mountain bikers using those areas will usually drive to them in their cars (paying the gas tax for the road use along the way). Since a significant number of bikes sold each year are mountain bikes and a significant number of those are never used on roads, it seems that mountain bikes would not logically be taxable if the taxes are for roads.


  12. So w’re going to get a tax rebate on fuel for lawn mowers and Off road vehicles? I know some folks who would be okay with that? I thinks the law ought to read that anywhere a bike path is is where bikes must be ridden, and not in motorized vehicle lanes. However where bike paths do not exist, sharing is mandatory. No Bike operated by a person of legal driving age will operate on the sidewalk, it is an imposition to the business owners who maintain them.


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