Washington business owner Dale Carlson of Tacoma wrote a letter to Republican state Representative Ed Orcutt questioning a new bike tax the state legislature is considering as part of a transportation package. In response, Orcutt claimed cycling causes greater carbon dioxide emissions than driving.
"Also, you claim that it 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 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."
Rep. Orcutt confirmed his position and the authenticity of the email to Seattle Bike Blog. “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.
“You can’t just say that there’s no pollution as a result of riding a bicycle."
He later emailed Seattle Bike Blog to say that his "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."