iPayRoadTax.com is all about getting people to call VED car tax and not road tax but the site itself uses the wrong term. What’s going on?
The site name is deliberate; ironic even. “I pay road tax, you don’t,” is an insult sometimes thrown at cyclists by motorists, a barb that says cyclists don’t pay for the roads so shouldn’t be on the roads. At best, some motorists would grant us the gutter, a sliver of road-space, but heaven forfend should we ride in the middle of the lane, blocking motorised traffic. Some say cyclists should stick to cycle-paths, roadside facilities paid for by motorists by this mythical road tax.
Hear the phrases road tax, road fund, road fund licence and you know the meaning – subliminal or spat out as an insult – is all about ownership. Get orffff moi land!
Now, back to this site’s choice of name. iPayCarTax.com wouldn’t be right at all. WeAllPayForTheRoads.com would be possible, but a tad long.
The fake tax disc that forms the logo and icon for the site – and is on the cycling jersey – makes it clear that the amount ‘paid’ is £0 . The fictitious tax, Bicycle Excise Duty, also distances the campaign from the actual tax concerned, Vehicle Excise Duty.
This way, both cycling-motorists and car-free cyclists can be part of the same campaign. A car-owning cyclist could certainly choose to take the line “but I do pay road tax…I pay it on the car I left at home, so, as I pay the same as motorists, I have the same rights as motorists.” I don’t think many of those who like the iPayRoadTax concept think like that because keen cyclists know they have equal rights to the road, paying VED on the car they leave at home has nothing to do with these rights.
Speaking personally, my line of reasoning is that road tax doesn’t exist so I can’t pay it and nor can motorists. Roads are paid for by us all, and we have to share a limited resource. This is made clear in the site’s first words: “Road tax? No such thing.”
I don’t suppose I’ll ever convince militant motorists to stop laying claim to ownership of the roads because they “pay for them”. No amount of facts will convince them otherwise. However, I would dearly like official organisations to get the terminology right. There is no reason for MPs, police forces, Her Majesty’s Customs & Revenue, Directgov, AA, RAC and others to use road tax when there’s a vernacular term for VED in widespread use: car tax.
The Post Office calls VED car tax and, away from DVLA online, this is the main place for a motorist to buy VED. (Or, to be truly correct, GVED, which stands for Graduated Vehicle Excise Duty).
I believe road tax is a loaded term: it’s used innocently by millions of people, but a significant motoring minority use it as a term of abuse against cyclists. If organisations started using the correct term, and there was a wider understanding of the dangerous gulf between car tax and road tax, the roads might be just a little safer for cyclists.
When the site was started, many car-free cyclists criticised it on forums without even visiting, assuming it was defending the use of the term road tax. It was left up to others to point out that if the detractors visited the site – and read the stand-firsts and the articles – they would realise the site was exactly the opposite of what they were knee-jerking against.
Hopefully, it’s a site to make people pause and think about an issue that too many assume to be minor or trivial but which many of those on the receiving end of threatening behaviour from “road owning” motorists know only too well can be a real danger.
SELECTED FEATURE ARTICLES
“Why don’t you buy some f****ing road tax for that thing, you ****!”
Cyclists shouldn’t be allowed on roads because we slow down traffic and we don’t pay road tax. Fiction? Nope, a regular rant from road ragers, like the Mondeo driver shown here on YouTube…
Not all cyclists own cars
iPayRoadTax.com is a useful, shorthand way of expressing a number of interlocking concepts, it’s not a campaign for “motoring cyclists”.
Subsidies for cyclists
Cyclists are hit with sticks when they should be fed with carrots. There’s a strong economic argument for paying cyclists to cycle (it happens in Denmark, for instance), and to raise fuel taxes to force motorists to drive less.
History of ‘road tax’ (1909-1936)
The oddly fascinating history of ‘road tax’
Licensed to cycle
The pros and cons of bicycle registration and licensing of cyclists. “You don’t pay road tax” is just one of many arguments used against cyclists by some motorists. Another is “you all ride through red lights” and “you all ride on pavements.” Now, a simple tit-for-tat response would be to reply that motorists routinely drive through stop-lights on red; and the motorists’ habit of parking on footways is now so commonplace it’s seen as standard. However, two wrongs don’t make a right so, instead of digital fisticuffs, now that ‘reining in scofflaw cyclists’ is such a hot topic, how about examining some of the motorists’ arguments about compulsory registration and licensing for bicycles?
Do low emission cars have less right to be on the road?
Owners of those cars which emit the lowest amount of pollutants pay zilch for their ‘road tax’. Those motorists who think ‘road tax’ still exists must be awfully confused by cars which pay £0 VED. Here’s a class of car which looks like any other class of car but which doesn’t ‘pay for the roads.’ How many motorists think Band A cars are freeloaders and should be banned from the roads they, apparently, don’t pay for? Probably none. Yet how many think cyclists are tax-dodgers, using roads paid for by motorists? Probably a lot.
The organisations which get ‘road tax’ wrong and why this matters
This site is called iPayRoadTax.com but quickly stresses there’s no such thing as ‘road tax’. It was abolished in 1936, a process started by Winston Churchill ten years previously. ‘Road tax’ might have been pushing up the daisies for 73 years but it’s a term still in widespread, erroneous use.
Royals, Ministers, disabled drivers, American soldiers in UK and emergency vehicles: they’re all tax-dodgers!
There are millions of vehicles exempt from paying VED. So, the militant motorists’ gibe against “tax dodging cyclists” could be extended to the Queen, car cops, wheelchair motorists and others! If road tax existed, that is.
Give cyclists carrots, don’t hit them with sticks
The hidden externalities of motoring, and why cycling is so cost-effective. So cost effective, in fact, it ought to be subsidised.
Want to be kept up to speed with iPayRoadTax? Use the form below to get the iPayRoadTax emailed newsletter (this won’t hit your inbox a thousand times a year, and your details will not leave the building):