Road (tax) rage

There’s no such thing as road tax
And there hasn’t been for years.
A simple fact, but one you’re unaware of, it appears.
Back in the 30s Churchill took it off the statute book;
It isn’t in the Highway Code, no matter where you look.
Nor is there any law that states the gutter is my place
(In fact it says the opposite: you have to give me space).
And when I’m doing 20 in a 30 zone, that‘s fine;
A limit’s not a target – but you say I’m out of line.
So what if I were driving at the same speed? In that case,
I guess you’d follow merrily, a smile upon your face?
There’s no such thing as road tax –
And I’ll tell you, if there was
I wouldn’t pay it anyway: I’d be exempt, because
My bike is non-polluting; no emissions means no fee.
The same applies to horses and pedestrians. We’re free.
There’s no such thing as road tax
And that paper disc you bought
Doesn’t pay for highway upkeep (is that really what you thought?)
The roads come out of general tax, like hospitals and schools,
And those who’ve told you otherwise are liars (or plain fools).
There’s no such thing as road tax
And your beef should really be
With all those crooks in Westminster: it’s them you want, not me.
Save all your ire for Government, whose greedy, grasping hand
Makes travel so expensive in this green and pleasant land.
There’s no such thing as road tax:
So let’s put aside all doubt
And turn our minds to weighty matters we should talk about
While there’s such a thing as SMIDSY,
Short for (every rider knows)
‘Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You’, as the old expression goes.
And there are such things as widows,
Orphans, families that grieve
For fallen loved ones, while a selfish few like you believe
That since we haven’t paid our dues to Swansea we’ve no right
To use ‘your’ roads (an argument you still love to recite).
No, there’s no such thing as road tax
So, repeat this every time
You see a rider on the road, and think that it’s a crime.
And in return, I won’t bitch when I see you sitting there
Without a seatbelt, on the phone, or messing with your hair.
For ride or drive, we’re only human, and we get things wrong.
Until we’re perfect – all of us – let’s try to get along.


While out riding a couple of evenings ago, I found myself embroiled yet again in a stupid argument (OK, a serious argument with a stupid person) about my right to be on the road, given that I don’t pay Vehicle Excise Duty (still widely, and completely erroneously, referred to as ‘road tax’) on my bicycle. This is such an oft-debated, wearisome topic I won’t bore you with it here (especially since, to my non-UK readers, it won’t mean a great deal!) – so here are the headlines. No, I don’t pay it on my bike, because I’m not required to, but I DO pay it on my car, because I am. Furthermore, I DO pay for the roads I ride on because I pay my taxes. As a cyclist or pedestrian, I have a RIGHT to use the road; as a motorist, I merely have PERMISSION, in the form of a driving licence. Rule 101 (aptly enough) in the Highway Code states that ‘When overtaking motorcyclists, pedal cyclists or horse riders, give them as least as much room as you would give a car.’ The lady with whom I ended up having this tedious discussion appeared irked that she’d been unable to overtake me on a narrow road in town (which would have involved either running me off the road, or a head-on collision with an oncoming car) and that I was doing 20 mph in a 30 zone. She brought this to my attention while we waiting at the same set of traffic lights 50 yards further on (after she’d passed me, then immediately had to slam on the brakes as the lights turned red).

Like most introverts, I’m not very good at thinking on my feet in these situations (particularly when said feet are on their toes balancing a bicycle). It’s taken me a few days to frame my response; my apologies if it comes across as a bit of a rant, but I endure so many near-misses and cars passing me six inches from my right elbow, getting verbal abuse as well was the final straw.

This was just one tiny skirmish in what seems to be a nationwide war between motorists and cyclists (most of whom also drive cars, incidentally). This website will give you a flavour of the antagonism, vitriol and outright hatred we’ve allowed to flourish on our roads. Stay safe out there. N.

One thought on “Road (tax) rage

  1. It can be dangerous when there are no seperate lanes for cyclists. ( Where I live, we do have road tax for cars, not for bicycles. ) Here pedestrians get a bit fed up with speedcyclers running them from the road so there is always something I suppose, but with a bit of give and take and legislation, all should be able to use the road!

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