Thursday, 22 September 2011

No Such Thing As Road Tax

Photo by akatori 
Tonight BBC News featured a story about a group of cyclists who were protesting for safer roads. They were calling for 20mph zones to be implemented in London, to slow down traffic and prevent casualties for those on bikes. I have my own thoughts on that - (more in a moment) - but what struck me was the level of bile in the responses coming through to the BBC. All but one viewer had a venomous opinion of cyclists. One person used the term "self righteous cyclists" while another woman complained that cyclists don't pay road tax, and therefore should not even be on the roads. She argued that "the roads are for cars", and only cars should be on them.

Firstly, in regards to the news piece: the idea of slowing down traffic seems to be another case of tackling the symptoms, rather than the root of the problem. The core issue - which few seem to be addressing - is the general attitude of drivers towards cyclists, and in many cases, of cyclists towards drivers. Demanding drivers slow down is only going to exacerbate the problem. I honestly don't think anything will improve unless there is a way to segregate cyclists and drivers with separate paths. In other words, car-free cycle lanes, and bike-free roads. If only this were possible! Instead we must continue to share the road.

As for the anti-cycling BBC viewers and their comments, I have to say one thing.
Road tax was abolished in 1937. Yes, 1937! Winston Churchill did away with it as he figured that "it will be only a step from this for them to claim in a few years the moral ownership of the roads." It's interesting that despite scrapping the road tax, this is still happening.

These days every taxpayer contributes to the upkeep of public roads. That means cyclists too. Yep, we all pay our share. What drivers pay is actually a vehicle excise duty, which focuses on Co2 emissions. It has nothing to do with roads. Or cyclists. So please stop taking it out on us.

At the end of the day it's important to get the facts right before building a battleground. We all pay for roads, and we all must share them.

Don't believe me? More helpful info here: