I don't pay road tax
18.11.09 by Buffalo Bill
A common gripe against cyclists is that we don’t pay road tax, aren’t insured (actually I am through my memberships of the CTC and Audax UK) and don’t have to pass a cycling test before we are allowed to use the roads. None of the these objections stand up to any examination.
As anyone who cares should know, there is no such thing as ‘road tax’. Road tax was abolished in 1936, and replaced with Vehicle Excise Duty, an annual tax on car ownership. There are doubts about whether the VED paid by motorists actually covers the cost of building and maintaining the roads, and in any case VED is a national tax, whereas a significant number of roads that are commonly used by cyclists are local, whose maintenance is the responsibility of local authorities.
So why have a bunch of car-owning cyclists felt motivated to set up this I Pay Road Tax thing? I can only ascribe this to too much time spent worrying about what Mail readers think. As it goes, I am excluded from this so-called majority of cyclists who also own cars (really? where are the numbers?), because not only do I not own a car, I have actually never owned a car, and, in fact, have not passed my driving test, although I did pass the Cycling Proficiency test when I was at primary school.
Jack Thurston of the Bike Show has this to say:
So the fact that I don’t pay road tax (or VED) because I don’t own a car means, I don’t have the same right you enjoy, does it? Or does the fact that I am fabulously rich and pay loads of income tax and VAT mean it’s actually YOU that has to get out of MY way?
This campaign – well meaning though it may be – is a very convoluted way of making an incredibly petty point. It’s like the Stop At Red nonsense from a few years ago. Overly defensive, ceding the agenda to a hostile brigade of Daily Mail readers who just don’t like cyclists, for whatever reason.
Among the reasons that some people hate cyclists is that they (incorrectly) perceive us to be smug. Of course Dr Freud would immediately diagnose this is as mostly rooted in reactionary motorists own guilt and jealousy, though they’d never know it. I’m afraid this campaign is actually rather smug. So is only going to justify the haters’ existing prejudices.
Carlton Reid is a nice guy but he’s got a tin ear when it comes to bicycle advocacy.
Amen to that.
In other, far more important, news, I am pleased to announce the winners of the Fixed Book Competition – Overdrive, Hippy and one of Moving Target’s overseas readers, Joss Willmott. On their way to you as I write guys, and thanks very much to the Fixed guys for supplying the prizes.