Should cyclists pay road tax?
From the Guardian Newspaper. - Should cyclists pay road tax?
Road tax, two words guaranteed to raise the ire of most cyclists. It's quite an achievement for something which hasn't existed for 74 years. And yet, like the worst kind of film zombie, the more thoroughly the idea is stamped out the more persistently it revives itself.
We've already written about the broad issue before, so I'll keep this short: the link between the annual vehicle tax paid by drivers and the money used to build and maintain roads was abolished in 1937, a process first begun by none other than Winston Churchill in 1926. Since then the money has come from various general and local taxes. Those little discs you put in the windscreen are vehicle excise duty (VED), which based on emissions, meaning ultra-efficient and electric cars, among others, pay nothing.
So, when as has happened to most cyclists at some point a driver leans out of a window and yells, 'You don't pay for the road! Get off till you pay road tax!' the most accurate answer for many (probably too verbose to deliver before the lights change) would be: 1/ There's no such thing; 2/ I own a car as well as a bike and 3/ If VED was levied on cycles I'd still pay nothing. If you really wanted to be annoying you could add: "Given that market research has shown cyclists tend to be disproportionately higher earning there's a reasonable chance I pay more for road upkeep then you do. Get off my road.' (Note: I'm not serious on the last point).
Is this mere pedantry? I'd argue not. It's my firm belief that the road tax myth fuels a persistent sense of entitlement among drivers. Left to broil in traffic jams, worked up to a futile rage at the idea of the "war on the motorist", they are more likely to act aggressively, even recklessly, towards those they feel are getting away with it.