How many times do cyclist come under abuse from motorists?
"cyclists don't pay road tax, so they have no rights on the road"
How many times do we hear that old chestnut?
True cyclist don't pay road tax, but neither do vehicle
There’s no such thing as ‘road tax’. It was abolished in 1937, a process started by
Winston Churchill ten years previously. ‘Road tax’ might have been pushing up the daisies for 74
years but it’s a term still in widespread, erroneous use.
The correct term is VED, Vehicle Excise Duty. VED is a tax on the vehicle, not a pot for
collecting monies to be spent on road building or road maintenance. The distinction between ‘road tax’ and VED is
very important, much more important than most people think. It’s possible that lives have been
lost because of the use of an antique phrase. Some motorists believe ‘road tax’ pays for roads so cyclists, as
freeloaders at best, tax-dodgers at worst, shouldn’t really be on “their” roads at all. This sometimes leads to
ugly and dangerous aggression against cyclists, with some motorists taking the ownership of the roads fallacy a
little too literally.
Which is odd, really, considering other “tax dodgers” include members of the Royal family,
disabled drivers, and owners of electric cars.
It’s but a short step from “ownership” of the roads to “protection” of said ownership. Many cyclists have been
nudged by cars; steered at by bus drivers. Much of the aggression is no doubt fuelled by gridlock-induced
frustration but at least some of it is fuelled by the belief that cyclists have less rights to be on roads paid
for by motorists. In fact, roads are paid for by general and local taxation, not ‘road
But, then, in such a car-dominated society it’s easy to continue using terms such as ‘road tax’. According to
some motorists, it’s colloquial, there’s no harm in it, it’s a “term understood by all.” Changing the public
perception of the phrase ‘road tax’ will take many, many years. But shouldn’t major publications, large
organisations and official Government departments use the correct term? It seems not.
So next time you are accused of not paying road tax inform the vehicle driver that they should check the
facts before they start abusing cyclists as we have as much rights on the road as they have.
For more information on road tax v car tax visit this website