Pay £5 and ride on a White Elephant

£0 Bicycle Excise Duty fake tax disc

Roll up! Roll up! Pay a fiver and you can ride on the M74, a yet-to-open motorway built with cash from cyclists (and every other British tax-payer). But it’s only for a day.

Mind you, it’s not often you get to ride a bike on a motorway, legally. Motorways are normally forbidden to cyclists, even though we help pay for them, via income tax. Such roads aren’t paid for out of ‘road tax’, as this doesn’t exist. Motorways are paid for by the Exchequer out of the consolidated fund i.e. Treasury coffers.

The motorway ride, to be staged Sunday 22nd May, in the centre of Glasgow, is being billed as the ‘M74 Bike ‘n’ Hike, a “one off opportunity to raise funds for charity”.

The event will start at the west end of the new motorway, at the Shields Road Car Park, Scotland Street, Glasgow and take participants onto the motorway to do an “out and back” walk, run or cycle to Polmadie Road (4 km round trip) or over the full length to Fullarton Roundabout (14km round trip).


UPDATE: Here’s a quick video of the event:


The event is limited to 20,000 participants. There’s a bit more info on this PDF.

The 8km M74 motorway extension cost £692 million. Read that again. Yes, eight kilometres of road cost £692 million to build. A road that will quickly fill with cars, not solving any congestion long-term. Just think what kind of ‘active transport’ infrastructure could be built across the UK for £692 million.

And then consider how much could be built for £2.3 billion. That’s the projected cost of the new Forth Road Bridge. Apparently, the old one will be dedicated to buses and cyclists but what’s the betting that won’t happen?

++++++++++ is an ironically-named campaign supporting the road rights of cyclists. The message that cyclists have equal rights on the roads is carried on iPayRoadTax t-shirts and jerseys.

  • Dave Holladay

    The population of Scotland is slightly over 5 million people but the working population is actually around 2.7 million. and through working and taxation they deliver an annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of u00a31bn but only around u00a3104m of this comes from the value added (GVA) from actually producing tangible ‘products’ rather than the churn of taxation and other funding sources.nnnSo here is a road which in a Scottish context will cost 70% of a year’s GDP but take 7 years to pay for from genuine earnings. In its place we could have had around u00a3260 for every working person to spend on alternative transport or other projects, Or we might ask for our individual u00a3260 shares as a refund since we won’t be using this road.nnnThe road uses time savings made by drivers using the road to justify the cost so I wonder how much that is per second (anyone got the figures?) However the time costs in local journeys blocked or extended should I suggest be put up against this figure to ensure a properly balanced financial case. n nnAt present I have been avoiding the use of Rutherglen Road, through from Shawfield to the Gorbals, because it has been transformed from its old long and straight alignment into tortuous snaking route through a building site n

  • almien

    “Keep paying 137p per litre, motorists – you only need to buy another n1.08 trillion liters just to pay for the M74 extension through Glasgow.”nnn(based on headline figure from – is more liters if you take 2011 data, but less liters if you include VAT as being entirely dedicated to road-building. Apologies for mix of US/UK spelling)n

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t it amazing, the Exchequer continues to fund road building at the expense of cycling in the certain knowledge that lack of active transport will continue to exacerbate the spiralling increase in diseases of inactivity. Whereas, were the Government to act intelligently and channel some of the funds for these these crazy road-building schemes, we could have a world-class infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists, which could easily stem the obesity epidemic and resulting diseases and would be self-funding to a great extent.nnH/T to BikeBiz feature about obesity levels set to cost u00a350 billion per year in 2050.

  • carltonreid

    It’s tempting to argue for a refund for the non-use….BUT… [fromu00a0 ]nn”The money paid by motorists does not have to go back to motorists. If it did, all hell would break loose. Interest groups of all creeds and colours would start demanding u201ctheiru201d tax contributions should only go to fund u201ctheiru201d projects. Society does not work that way; cannot work that way.nn”There are no taxation opt-outs: married couples without kids cannot strike out the amount of tax that pays for schools; pacifists cannot strike out the amount of tax that goes on defence spending. And motorists canu2019t successfully demand that the money they give to the Government is given straight back to them in the shape of smoother, less congested roads.nn”Smoother, less congested roads would be wonderful for all road users, not just motorists, and such infrastructure u2013 a shared national resource u2013 is paid for by all taxpayers, not just motorists. The public highway is, by definition, for the benefit of the public, not a sub-set of the public.”

  • carltonreid

    u00a0In my column for the next BikeBiz mag I talk about ‘Peak Cars’, the theory that car use is in decline and has already reached its peak (it reached its peak in London in the 1980s).nnSplashing huge amounts of cash for infrastructure that will get less use in the future is crazy.nnPeak Cars is the theory of Professor Phil Goodwin, who shows that car use will fall away (is already falling away) just as Peak Trains and Peak Buses happened in the past.nn ought to be planning for the future using such extrapolations i.e. planning for the transport modes likely to be in the ascendancy over the next 50 years. Given Peak Oil and Peak Cars, one of the most obvious transport modes in the ascendancy is cycling.nnInstead of giving subsidies to electric car buyers (e-cars will clog up the roads just as much as petrol cars), the UK Government should be encouraging bicycle use, with cash hand-outs and with infrastructure building.nnSadly, Governments are very bad at planning for the future.nnAs Professor Goodwin says: u00a0nn”Imagine you are a transport planner or modeller in a post-war commission planning for the future in 1918. You are forecasting rail use for the next 20 years, and so are analysing the unbroken growth in rail use since the earliest days. Is there any reason why you would think that you are only two years away from u2018peak railu2019, after which rail use would decline inexorably for the rest of your life?u00a0nn”Next, imagine you are working in the transport commission at the end of the Second World War in 1945, and are looking at the unbroken growth in bus and tram use for over half a century. Would you come to the conclusion that you are less than a decade away from u2018peak busu2019, after which road public transport use would decline inexorably for the rest of your life?nn”Now, to car use. It is clear that the planner and forecaster working in 1970 would have no more evidence to doubt the possibility of continued uninterrupted growth in car demand than their parents to doubt the continued growth of road public transport use in 1950 or their grandparents to doubt the continued growth of rail use in 1918. But will they be proved right even though their parents and grandparents were proved wrong?”n

  • Anonymous

    u00a0Cycling is fine in theory but you could be killed at any moment.

  • carltonreid

    Driving is fine in theory but you could be killed (and you could kill others) at any moment.

  • Jason Miles

    I don’t think I’ll ever ride a bike again now you’ve told me that.u00a0

  • BrightAire

    Cycling is fine in theory but statistically, and in practice, you’re more likely to be killed at any moment while driving, being a passenger or hit by a motor vehicle.

  • Anonymous

    Sitting on the sofa is fine in theory but it’s more likely to kill you than being on a bike:n

  • Dom

    Living is fine in theory but you could be killed any moment.