Should cyclists pay tax to be on the road?
Possibly the most boring arguments you'll see on the internet - and the most vicious - is that between motorists and cyclists. As we know, some drivers get angry at absolutely everything, and cyclists like trolling them. For people who both drive AND cycle (90% of bike owners have a car according to figures), they're left in an awkward position, and do their best to avoid the whole sideshow.
So with that, social media is about to kick-off royally, as a campaign has started called 'Get Britain Moving', which asks that cyclists pay to be on the roads.
This is the idea of a bloke called Mike Rutherford, and sadly for prog fans, it isn't the guitarist from Genesis.
He says that drivers have to use our shabby roads and sit in long queues in central London, because the government are building a cycle superhighway, which runs via Hyde Park Corner, Parliament, Blackfriars and the Tower of London.
Rutherford, who founded the Motorists Association decades ago, reckons it isn't fair that drivers have to sit in jams while cyclists get a nice new road to use. Of course, cyclists also have to use the crappy roads too, and have sat in numerous traffic jams while work was done on the roads since forever.
He wants cyclists to pay a £50 tax a year, if they want to use the roads. He said: "If cyclists want their dedicated lanes and cycle lanes surely they, like drivers, plane users and boat users, should pay for the access. £50 is not a lot and it would help. Cyclists should pay their way. Drivers are one of the highest taxed motorists in the world and he or she pay their motoring related taxes, which total about £60billion a year."
"I don’t know why cyclists are the only ones who are let off from the charges." He added: "Cyclists should be insured. They can run people over and kill them and hurt them. It’s happened, so there should be insurance for bikes."
There is a flaw in Rutherford's thinking. No-one actually pays a specific tax to access the roads. They're paid for by general taxes, like libraries or whatever. There's car tax, but no road tax. Winston Churchill abolished it in 1937. Cars are taxed based on amount of CO2 they emit. And other vehicles don't pay road tax either, such as Band A motorists and disabled drivers.
So, if a road tax was introduced, it would most likely be thrown at drivers too, on top of the taxes they already pay.
Bitterwallet doesn't have a dog in this fight, so only have facts to play with. Basically, if you want people to pay directly for access to the roads of the UK, no government will ever charge just cyclists, and not drivers. While it seems unfair if you're paying a lot to drive, the fact is, there's people who neither drive or cycle, who are also paying for the upkeep of the UK's roads.
So there you have it. There's other discussions to be had, for sure, but when it comes to road tax, this is just factually incorrect.
Should cyclists be insured to use the roads? That's another debate entirely, as of course, cyclists can cause injury and accident, but then, so can people running, or walking. Asking bikes to have insurance won't stop congestion either, which seems to be the main crux of the GBM campaign. One thing that should be looked at, is that this campaign should look at ways of arguing that taxes and insurance would be better for society, rather than a revenge punishment for something that irritates drivers.
Should the police do more about dangerous cyclists? Absolutely. We suspect that everyone would like something done about anyone who drives dangerously on the road, but again, taxes aren't going to fix that. It is obvious there's a problem (you can argue the toss about whether it is a cultural problem, or a practical one) here, but everyone needs to get their facts and stories straight before it gets fixed. Anecdotal evidence about someone annoying you those times, isn't enough.
Anyway - cyclists, motorists, and whoever else - it is over to you.