March 23, 2006

Budget changes to Vehicle Excise Duty

The old argument that as cyclists don't pay "road tax" they don't belong on the roads has been dealt a savage blow.

One of the budget changes is to decrease the Vehicle Excise Duty on Band A petrol-driven cars (emitting up to 100 grammes/kilometre of carbon dioxide) to zero.

Thus if you think Vehicle Excise Duty is road tax, small cars join cycles in not paying for roads.


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  1. Did anyone ever seriously argue that cyclists should pay road tax? The damage they do to the road, compared to cars, is minimal.

    23 Mar 2006, 10:18

  2. Jeremy Clarkson wrote in the Sun on 16 July 2005:

    [...] I offer five handy hints to those setting out on a bike for the first time. [...] You are a guest on roads that are paid for by motorists so if we cut you up, shut up. [...]

    Full text link comment 9

    23 Mar 2006, 11:33

  3. I said seriously argue. Clarkson has a habit of being politically incorrect just for the sake of it, and to get up the noses of people whom he doesn't like. It usually works :)

    23 Mar 2006, 12:25

  4. Come off it. "Many a true word is said in jest" Making an assertion and then claiming it was a joke is recognised rhetorical trick. I do it myself.

    23 Mar 2006, 12:41

  5. If you want to decide whether or not cyclists should pay road tax, we have to decide what it's there for. Is it there to pay for road upkeep? Considering the amount the government takes off British motorists each year compared to the maintenance and expansion of roads expenditure, I'd say no. Is it there to pay for your use of the road in terms of conjestion? Or is it there for enrironmental/political concerns (or as a way of raising money, as I suspect!). I personally have issues with the idea of zero tax for unpolluting cars. We already pay directly for pollution in our fuel duty – the more fuel you burn, the more CO2 you emit. It's a direct and linear relationship, and in my opinion fair. Therefore any correlation with environmental impact is a political farce. If you want to tax for road damage, then tax by vehicle weight. And if you want to tax for conjestion, then each vehicle should pay the same tax (more for lorries as they occupy masses of road space, drive slower and generally cause a lot of conjestion). Of course, you could always combine the last two a little bit. But as I repeat, any correlation with environmental impact is a little far-fetched to sell to me, in my opinion. Cyclists should only pay tax if we look upon it being at least in part a price for using space on the road, although even I'm not going to suggest that cyclists use up much space. They are a pain in the arse when you get stuck behind them on country roads though.

    06 Apr 2006, 09:22

  6. As a general rule, I think there should be separate tracks for cyclists beside A and B roads in the countryside (or totally alternative routes). But integration on urban roads and unclassified rural roads.

    See link

    06 Apr 2006, 12:35

  7. ron sanderson

    every road user wether paying excise duty or not, should at least be insured for 3rd party.i wonder how many cyclists are actually insured, no doubt a small portion are but i bet the majority are not, like wise how many cyclists keep their machines in good working order i.e brakes and lights that work

    20 Sep 2006, 21:27

  8. How much damage do cyclists do to other people?

    I’m a member of CTC – the UK’s national cyclists’ organisation. For £33 a year, not only do I get club membership but third party liability insurance as well. If you compare that sort of money with the cost of motor insurance it shows just how much damage cars actually cause.

    Perhaps everyone should have third party liability insurance – the premium being dependent upon “No claims bonus” and whether they indulge in things (e.g. driving) which in practice are found to give rise to a lot of claims.

    21 Sep 2006, 10:07

  9. howard cain

    Just to make it clear, Vehicle Excise Duty is a tax on motor vehicles and is not ring-fenced to pay for the roads. Roads are public estate and are paid for out of general taxation and council tax – don’t forget that your local council is responsible for road maintenance in your area. Trunk roads are funded direct from the treasury. A treasury study done in the mid 1990’s showed that if all the negative aspects of motoring is taken into account (medical care from crashes, pollution and so on) then all motoring taxes cover just 27% of that cost. Compared to the NHS costs of treating all those tens of thousands of injuries every year (a single serious injury typically costs the NHS £100,000, and there’s typically 50,000 serious injuries every year, plus another 300,000 cases needing hospital treatment of some kind) road costs are almost incidental. Cyclists were using the PUBLIC highway long before the first car coughed into life, and they’ll still be using it after the last car splutters to a halt. Perhaps if some of the energy expended by motorists whining about cyclists (who, rarely, if ever, cause the death to another person) was used to put their own house in order the daily slaughter on the roads might start to reduce. Let’s face it, paying taxes and having insurance doesn’t seem to achieve much in terms of road safety.

    26 Jul 2007, 22:27

  10. Is the text of the report available on-line somewhere?

    Rather than refer to the justice when considering what people should pay, I prefer to talk in terms of incentives and disincentives.

    Getting an individual to switch from car to cycle for at least some journeys is a benefit to other people as it cuts pollution and congestion. Applying Vehicle Excise Duty to cycles hinders that switch, so is a bad thing.

    One of the reasons to talk in terms of incentives and disincentives is that it avoids identity politics; an approach which only makes people feel that they must support their “own side”, whether right or wrong.

    27 Jul 2007, 09:47


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