Taxing Cyclists…

In this article in the Scotland on Sunday it suggests that the Scottish Government is considering a ‘road tax’ for cyclists.

I’m not opposed to this idea in principle, although there are a couple of issues that are hard to resolve

  • How much should it cost?  Obviously cyclists don’t use major roads which are the focus of most road building.  In terms of ‘wear and tear’ I’d suggest that cycling causes rather minimal damage, certainly compared to other vehicles on the road.  However, I think that most cyclists would be happy to pay tax if they saw improvements in road safety.
  • How an earth would it be enforced?


But mostly I think I’d agree with it on the grounds that it’s one less argument for the minority of drivers that are also rather unreasonably about cyclists using the road network. 

The ‘you don’t pay tax so you shouldn’t be on the road’ argument is a rather weak one but  I think that paying a tax would help to legitimise cycling on the roads .  At risk of sounding a little snobbish however, acts of aggression on the road tend to come from the lower echelons of society and, on balance, one suspects that the tax burden that falls on the average cyclist is rather more than that of the accuser.

Furthermore I’d contend that most cyclists are (generally reluctant) drivers too and therefore subsidise the cost of roads as they pay a full road tax but choose not to drive every day, reducing congestion but also the ‘wear and tear’ of the roads.

No Comments on “Taxing Cyclists…”

  1. 1 Rory P said at 10:00 am on September 26th, 2009:

    Very thought provoking argument Paul but introducing a tax for cyclists doesn’t really hold for me. Alongside the enforcement problem as you suggest (does a casual weekend cyclist pay as much as a commuter/heavy training cyclist etc?), my own limited experience of cycling suggests that safety is strongly linked to attitude/behaviour of cyclist and motorist and not related to the physical safety measures on the roads (i.e bike lanes etc); erratic driving and poor cycling are the main factors for road safety. As an example, on a recent commute to work, whilst cycling in a ‘safe’ bike/bus lane, an idiot motorist nearly rammed me off the road. Perhaps greater emphasis should be placed on cyclist safety in the driving test???