A couple weeks ago I commented about a proposed $25 bicycle "luxury" tax, making the rounds in the Washington State Legislature. (I call it a luxury tax, because it would only apply to bikes costing upwards of $500.) The authors of the proposal feel it would at last assess cyclists for their fair share of roadway expenses.
My reaction is two-fold. First, I don't believe most transportation cyclists would begrudge paying a "fair share" of roadway maintenance expenses. But - second - in order for it to be fair, it would somehow have to be based on the actual cost of roadway improvements and repairs that are bicycle-related. An arbitrary $25 surcharge on every expensive bike sold hardly does that. Some of those bikes might accumulate 10,000 miles a year on public roads. Others will spend their existence hanging in garages. And - there are some $450 bikes that will put far more wear-and-tear on the roads in a lifetime, than some $4500 bikes.
Now, in a very interesting twist, a fella who fancies himself a conservative anti-tax sorta guy has come out in favor of the bicycle tax.
Representative Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama, WA) "is staunchly opposed to taxes of any kind, and is opposed to the gas tax increases in this legislation." But he's in favor of the bicycle tax, and explains his "reasoning" in an email:
"... you claim that is is environmentally friendly to ride a bike. But if I am not mistaken a cyclists [sic] has an increased heart rate and respiration. That means the act of riding a bike 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 also explains that motorists pay a gas tax and cyclists don't. Like so many of his motoring constituents, it appears he conveniently ignores the fact that a large percentage of roadway revenue comes from the property tax.)
I'm thinkin' Mr. Orcutt is lucky that they don't assess a surcharge based on the amount of methane gas that people emit... if ya get my drift.