Should cyclists pay a 'road tax'?

Cyclist The Beatles' 1966 hit 'Taxman' contained the lyrics 'if you drive a car, I'll tax the street' and although George Harrison was probably only looking for a word that rhymed with 'feet' it seems that many motorists still believe that road, or street, tax really does exist.

The issue of 'road tax' generally comes up in one of two scenarios; when talking about potholes and when talking about cyclist.

The first is a more generic 'I pay road tax, why don't they fix the roads' but as we saw last week the argument around cyclists is much more militant.

Last week motorist Emma Way knocked a cyclist off his bike in Norfolk and then thought the incident so infuriating, or funny (I'm not sure which) that she took to Twitter to make the following comment: "Definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier – I have right of way he doesn't even pay road tax! #bloodycyclists".

I'm sure most people would agree that her attitude is callous but what people will disagree over is the 'road tax' element of her argument. The fact of the matter is there's no such thing as road tax – it was abolished in 1937 following opposition from Winston Churchill. What the little tax disc on the windscreen indicates is that you've paid vehicle excise duty, which is based on emissions – the higher the emissions the higher the charge.

Bicycles don't create emissions so they don't pay the duty.

And there is also confusion over what vehicle excise duty pays for; it doesn't go towards keeping Britain's roads pot-hole free, that's what council tax is for.

If motorists are so concerned about the state of the roads and who has the right to use them, then maybe all road users, whether bicycles, motorbikes, scooters, cars or lorries, should pay into a road fund like they had in the 1930s.

If you want everyone to pay a tax to use the road then we have to introduce a new tax but who wants to pay more tax? I'm a cyclist and motorist and I can tell you right now that I don't want to pay more tax and that it would be completely unenforceable to tax cyclists unless you added a levy on to the purchase of a new bike.

Motorists and cyclists may not rub along without incident but I'm sure one area they can agree on is that we don't need any further transport taxes.
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