Question – Should cyclists pay road tax?
My answer – yes of course we should, why shouldn’t we? How much road tax do you want cyclists to pay?
Motorist – usually silent by that point.
The “smart Alec” cyclist response to that – “But there is no road tax, that was abolished in 1937, nobody pays road tax”.
My response to that – correct, but cars are still subject to Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), even if they no longer have to carry a tax disc to display it. In order to qualify for the lowest band, ie Band A, a car must emit less than 100g of CO2 per 100 kilometres. Since regular everyday cycling is merely emitting carbon dioxide from food that has already been consumed, usually to excess, the net emissions from cycling are zero. So the natural response is that cyclists should therefore just pay none of this mythical “road tax”, just like Smarts and other fuel efficient cars.
That is fine, except that a bicycle is not a Smart. It does not require any petrol or diesel to make it move, nor does it need electricity, most of which still comes from coal. If you look at how the banding works, and see how each band is progressively discounted from the top rate, then actually, as cyclists, by the same logic, we should be getting a rebate of more than £200 per year per bike.
So there you have it – yes of course we should “pay road tax”, because we’d actually get a rebate. And no, I’m not proposing this as policy, because it would be too easy to fiddle, but I do think it is always worth pointing out that simply saying “cyclists shouldn’t pay VED” doesn’t actually go far enough.