There was a petition started near the end of 2016 that suggested cyclists should both pay road tax and have insurance for continued use on UK roads. You can imagine what sort of commotion that stirred up among the cycling community.

This petition, which was sent to the Prime Minister, is asking that cyclists pay insurance in case of accidents that are their fault and to contribute to a road tax for their use of public roads. The suggestion is to put all cyclists onto segregated bike paths so as they do not endanger other road users and cause accidents.

Leisure Lakes Bikes, a biking shop and in particular  road bikes, replied with three valid reasons as to why cyclists should not be asked to pay a UK road tax.

  1. What UK Road Tax? There isn’t one!

If the petition was to be taken literally, there might be some confusion in the corridors of parliament as they scurry about trying to find what exactly is the UK Road Tax. There has not been a road tax, as such, in the UK for many years. If ever there was a reason to squash the petition, this is a good place to start.

There is a Vehicle Excise Duty that motorists pay which is not really a Road Tax. A very famous British Prime Minister Winston Churchill made moves for road tax to be abolished in the UK in 1926. It took him a lot longer to get that passed than it did for him to win the war! The tax was abolished in 1937.

  1. Can Cyclists pay the Vehicle Excise Duty (VED)?

That payment is dependent on the engine size of the vehicle, the fuel type and just how much carbon dioxide is emitted. The date the vehicle was registered is taken into account as well.

If you want to apply the VED to a bicycle, the following facts should then be considered:

  • A bicycle does not have an engine other than a cyclist’s legs.
  • With no engine, there is no fuel used. Muesli bars don’t count!
  • While the CO2 is an emission by a rider as a part of breathing out, it won’t register very highly on a meter!

So, based on these results, applying a VED will be easy. £0 it is! By the way that is the VED charge for a Band A motorist.

  1. Cyclists already pay their way in the maintenance of UK roads

The Vehicle Excise Duty, when collected, goes back into a central account that is used by the government for many different things. That means the money is not necessarily used for looking after UK roads.

The government can spend the money on any old public service as deemed necessary. Pretty much the same for all taxes collected. People using bicycles already pay those taxes as they are citizens of the UK.