“Cyclists should not be on our roads! They don’t pay road tax! We motorists pay up for our tax discs, which entitle us to be on the roads, and which pay for general road maintenance. Do bikes have tax disks? No. They take up our space and don’t pay for the deterioration to our roads which they cause. They have no right to be there. Get the f*****g bastards off our roads!”
As a cyclist this is an argument that I often encounter. Irrationally angry, Jeremy Clarkson inspired people seem to have a huge problem that I like riding my bike. Why interrupt your day to complain about this? But if you are going to complain and moan and yell at me, please at least have a coherent argument as to why I shouldn’t be on ‘your roads.’ There’s certainly a few misconceptions regarding road tax.
Firstly, there is the belief that cyclists should pay road tax for using their bikes on the road. I’ve got news for you. Road tax doesn’t exist. It was abolished in 1937. Even Winston Churchill campaigned against it. What motorists mean when they say ‘road tax’ is Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). VED is calculated based on vehicle emissions. Band A cars, which fall below 100g/km CO2 emissions, are exempt as their emissions are so low. Unsurprisingly, a bicycle is also exempt. Why? Well, how much CO2 does a bicycle emit? Complaining that cyclists don’t pay VED is like complaining that somebody that has never bought anything doesn’t pay VAT.
Secondly, there is the belief that cyclists don’t pay for the maintenance of the roads. Again, I’ve got news for you. There is no specific spend from VED on our roads. Road building and road maintenance is funded by council tax, which most adult cyclists pay as they often have homes, and secondly from general taxation, which most cyclists pay as they often have incomes. The very suggestion that cyclists do not have a right to be on the road through having not paid for it is absurd. It’s like saying you cannot possibly visit any other council district in case you use something, a pavement for example, that has been funded by a council to who’s taxation pot you do not contribute.
So I will continue cycling on the roads safe in the knowledge that I am in fact allowed to be there.
PS. 87% of British Cycling members also own a car. So that means most cyclists do actually pay ‘road tax’ anyway.