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21/11/2011 // STYLE 3 Comments

Drivers want cyclists to pay road tax, says survey



The issue of cyclists paying road tax is a non-issue really as there is no such thing. Maybe someone should tell insurance comparison site Confused.com because they seemed confused themselves. One of the main results of its road safety week survey (out today) is that a quarter of drivers want cyclists to pay road tax The thing is, and we don’t know how Confused.com defined road tax to their drivers, is that road tax as a piece of terminology doesn’t exist.

Confused.com confusion

A tax on using the roads was abolished in 1937. What we have today is a tax on vehicles, not a tax that pays for roads. “Road tax” as many of our motorist friends like to call it, is in fact Vehicle Exercise Duty (VED), and though bicycles are classified as vehicles under the law, they qualify for 0% VED as they are essentially an environmentally friendly contraption just as low-emission cars and electric cars are taxed at 0% VED.

VED is a car tax and roads are paid for from general and local taxation, which cyclists contribute to.

We’re asking Confused.com as what to what they meant by road tax and how they define it. We hope to update this blog later with their response.

The survey of 1,000 motorists and 1,000 cyclists by confused.com does however some revealing insights into the motorist cyclist divide.


From the cyclists interviewed in the survey, 34% said they had been a victim of road rage. Overall a quarter of cyclists have been beeped at or sworn at by a motorist and more than one in eight have been knocked off their bike by a motorist. Fourteen per cent said they had been run off the road by a motorist, while 11% were hit by a car door being opened. Most worryingly, 4% were chased by a motorist after an incident.

When it came to safety, 65% of cyclists told Confused.com that they are feeling less safe than they did a year ago and cyclists were given some suggestions by Confused.com on ways to improve their journeys.

From this there was little support for allowing cyclists to go through red lights (9%), but surprising support (28%) for legalising cycling on pavements.

There is no surprise that 58% thought more cycle lanes should be available in the UK with 37% saying they would like drivers to stop driving and parking in cycle lanes.


Of the drivers surveyed, 72% said they had experienced one or more of the following incidents involving a cyclist during the last two years, broken down as follows:

  • A cyclist caused me to swerve in my car [31%]
  • A cyclist slowed down my journey and made me late [22%]
  • A cyclist caused an accident which I was involved in [5%]
  • Someone I know was involved in an accident involving a cyclist [11%]
  • A cyclist went through red lights [39%]
  • Cyclists riding on the pavement or in an area with a ‘no cycling’ sign [26%]

As stated above, drivers wanted some action taken against cyclists. Apart from the quarter wanting cyclists to pay road tax, 14% wanted to see cyclists displaying number plates on their bikes.

Getting cyclists to pass a version of the driving test before they can ride on the road was a popular idea with 44% of motorists, while 43% say that they would like to see cyclists taking out a form of insurance in case they cause a collision.

Catching those who cycle through red lights was seen as the top solution with 59% of car drivers saying they’d like to see cyclists caught for doing this.

Reporting incidents

Both cyclists and motorists are turning to social media to report incidents of road related anger with Confused.com identifying 2,674 tweets mentioning both ‘road rage’ and ‘cyclist’ during the first nine months of this year. In response to the emerging danger, Confused.com has created an interactive map that both cyclists and drivers can use to pinpoint rage blackspots.

Update on use of “road tax” terminology

After several conversations with the Confused.com on this issue, they stated to Going Going Bike that the term “road tax” was used as they wanted to make the terminology simplistic to drivers and many people do not refer to VED. Unfortunately such an answer perpetuates the myth as to an existence of road tax in a drivers mind.

On another point of clarification, Confused.com told us that when asked the “road tax” question, motorists were made aware that this meant a bicycle registration tax. Now if this was outlined by Confused.com in the first place then there wouldn’t have been any confusion to what many see as a valid question. Unfortunately the press release doesn’t and like us, other media outlets will interpret it as being a question of cyclists paying for road costs.

For more great cycling news and stories follow us on Twitter or Facebook

See also

Conflict in New Forest over growing numbers of people cycling

Police patrols at Box Hill after increase in cyclists using area

from Going Going Bike – Auctions, Bike News, Cycle Stuff

3 comments [leave one]
John November 21, 2011 at 11:10 pm

It’s staggering how anal some cyclists are about “road tax”.


Andrew November 27, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Quite happy to pay a ‘Road Tax’, as long as it’s set at a reasonable level. May i suggest £1 per year with an equivalent for road users whose vehicles create the potholes i am forced to ride in and a rebate for any damage caused to myself or my bike from them.


Beth November 28, 2011 at 1:18 am

What are you supposed to do where there is shared provision on a pavement, then it’s just a pavement, then it’s shared provision again. Seems a bit mad to me.

As is junctions where a red light is NEVER going to recognise the weight of a cycle and rider so will change in a couple of days time. This is when I ride through a red and as I don’t want to spend the rest of my life at that junction I make no apologies for it.


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