“I don’t care if I nearly ran you over, I pay road tax.”

On my commute to work today, I was witness to a very nasty bit of road rage.

A cyclist was nearly hit by a car, who I can only presume didn’t indicate when he cut across lanes, and pulled over to say something to the driver. I arrived at the point where the driver was hanging out of his car window, shouting and swearing at the rather bemused cyclist. He shouted something that has stuck with me for the rest of the day.

‘I don’t care that I nearly ran you over, I pay my road tax to drive on these fucking roads.’

I’m not sure that I would have been able to control myself if a driver shouted this at me, but the cyclists simply raised his eyebrows and said back: ‘ You don’t care if you nearly killed me? How about you tell my wife and kids that….’ At this point the traffic lights turned green and everyone went on their merry way…

But this argument has been going around in my head all day.

I’m sure every cyclist reading this has had to pull this fact out the bag at an angry driver – but sorry chaps, but road tax doesn’t exist. It was abolished in 1937 and replaced with Vehicle Excise Duty. 

VED is a tax on cars, not roads, and it goes straight into the general Treasury. It should really be classified as a pollution tax, since it’s now based on the size of engine and emissions. Ultra-low emissions vehicles are exempted – and what has ultra, ultra, ULTRA low emissions? Bikes.

In fact, council tax is spent on the upkeep of roads. Do cyclists pay council tax? Yes. So we have just as much right to use the roads as car drivers do.

I’m far from advocating stopping in busy traffic to have a pop at car drivers who nearly run you over, despite having my fair share of those experiences, but come on car/bus/taxi/lorry drivers.

We can surely all share the road and play nicely? Surely?

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6 thoughts on ““I don’t care if I nearly ran you over, I pay road tax.”

  1. Ha…… I wish I had read your June 10th blog before a recent family lunch when a very annoying (and old) relative of my in laws commented to me on the eve of a 112 mile sportive I was doing that he was annoyed with cyclist because they didn’t pay anything for the roads……how I would have enjoyed smugly informing him as to the true facts…..thanks Brit Loves Bike !!

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  2. It is not really about VED or road tax – it is more about the fact that cyclists are the only group of road users who don’t have to pass a test to be able to use the road. If cyclists were tested, licenced and insured like all other road users we might see a general improvement in their road sense and a better understanding of road etiquette. Wishful thinking I suspect!

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Tony. It’s an interesting point you make about insurance and having a license for cyclists. Unfortunately, most cyclists don’t realise that they are entitled to two free lessons from their local council. It’s a shame that councils don’t promote this more, as this could indeed educate a lot of people about road safety and make the roads a safer place.

      In this instance, one road user was using ‘road tax’ as a justification for dangerous driving that almost caused another road user serious damage. It doesn’t matter that the road users were a car and a bike, it could have just have easily been two cars, a car and a lorry, a motorbike and a bus…. It’s never acceptable to rationalise dangerous driving, and especially not with an outdated and incorrect argument. The drivers comments have really stuck with me, but not because of the road tax confusion – because he nearly caused a serious accident and instead of showing signs of remorse or concern, he went straight to defense and anger when he as in the wrong. Bikes, cars, lorries, buses, vans, pick up trucks and even milk floats are all here to stay on our roads – we need to promote greater collaboration and understand of road etiquette among all road users so that deaths and accidents from all vehicles are significantly reduced.

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    2. Tony – Motorists are licensed because of their capacity to do harm. Even with licensing, motorists still kill about 1800 people every year in the UK, and seriously injure another 20,000. Can you imagine how many they’d kill and injure without licensing? Cyclists, on the other hand, with no licensing, kill an average of about 1 person per year and seriously injure a handful. So, licensing and testing cyclists would create virtually no difference to the casualty figures. It would, however, cost a huge amount of money to administer, which would have to come out of everyone’s taxes, yours included.
      A couple of other points:
      1) Over 80% of cyclists also drive, so will have passed a driving test anyway.
      2) Your depiction of cyclists as a uniquely lawless group of road users is not actually born out by the facts. Official DfT figures show that in collisions between motorists and cyclists where blame has been apportioned, the motorist is shown to be at fault in the majority of cases.

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      1. Thanks for those stats Chris, they’re really interesting – especially the point that most cyclists are road users.

        I personally do agree that cyclists shouldn’t have to be licensed, but I do think that more can be done to educate and support cyclists on the roads. That’s why I think every cyclists should make the most of the free lessons offered by the council, but equally councils should be shouting about this service they offer. I also think that more can be done to invest in cycle paths and roads to make it easier for both cyclists and car drivers.

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