Comedy gold: “The car have priority over you because we pay road tax”

Motorists say the stupidest things. Well, some of them do, and so do their passengers. Who could ever forget the Mancunian ‘no pay, no say’ conversation? But for sheer comedy gold it would be hard to beat this exchange, which happened in Brixton at the weekend. It’s remarkably polite, from both sides. And erudite from the cyclist. What the video confirms, with knobs on, is that there’s a genuine belief that the payment of ‘road tax’ gives cars priority over cyclists on the roads. The little perforated disc in the windscreen is believed, by some, to be a road usage fee and, as cyclists are perceived not to pay this fee, they’re deemed freeloaders and ought not to get in the way of the fee payers.

In the following exchange – which also involves a punishment beep and a squeeze into a bus lane (it was a Sunday) – the car passenger seems incredulous that a cyclist could also be a motorist. Top marks to themitsky for keeping calm during the exchange, and bonus points for explaining, between traffic lights, the intricacies of the emissions-based vehicle exise duty and why cyclists sometimes ride in the middle of the road. One more set of traffic lights and themitsky may have been able to explain who and what actually pays for roads.

themitsky: “Hi, sorry-”
Passenger: “You don’t cycle in the middle of the road.”
themitsky: “Why not?”
Passenger: “You cycle on the side not in the middle of the road.”
themitsky: “Do you want to try it? Do you want to try cycling on the road and see how it feels?”
Passenger: “But on the side, not in the middle.”
themitsky: “If it’s not safe, I’ll cycle in the middle.”

themitsky: “Hello again.”
Passenger: “A question, if it’s not safe to cycle on the side, is it safer to cycle in the middle where the cars and everything is?”
themitsky: “Yeah, if I have to. It’s not against – it’s not the law that I have to cycle in the left of the lane.”

Passenger: “But the car have priority over you because we pay road tax.”
themitsky: “No, no.”
Passenger: “Yes.”
themitsky: “No, forget road tax.”
Passenger: “Yes we do.”
themitsky: “Check the website, there is no such thing as road tax.”
Passenger: “What do you mean there’s no such thing as road tax?”
themitsky: “Check the website, check it out.”
Passenger: [indicating car tax on windshield] “This is road tax.”
themitsky: “That’s not road tax.”
Passenger: “What is it?”
themitsky: “It’s a Vehicle Excise Duty disc. It’s only based on how much your emissions are on the car.”
Passenger: [silence]
themitsky: “If you have less emissions on your car it’s cheaper or it’s free.”
Passenger: “Is it really?”
themitsky: “Yes.”
Passenger: “Is that what you say?”
themitsky: “Yes.”
Passenger: “So you’re one is free cos it’s a bicycle?”
themitsky: “Yeah…You’ve got environmental cars which are cheaper because the emissions are lower.”
Passenger: “So why don’t you buy a car then?”
themitsky: “I’ve got a car at home, I don’t need to use it now cos I’m on my bike.”
Passenger: “So if someone cycled in front of you, what would you do?”
themitsky: “If there is not enough space for me to overtake, I wait behind.”
Passenger: “Is it?”
themitsky: “You only need to wait behind for a few seconds.”
Passenger: “But you was in the middle of the road.”
themitsky: “Because it wasn’t safe.”
Passenger: “It was safe, there was nobody else right here in front of you. And it was not about…”
themitsky: “Check the website.”


themitsky: “Hullo again….Three things. One, check your licence plate on youtube in two days, I have this all on video. Two, check the website and three, check the highway code.”
Passenger: “Good for you, put it on youtube”.
themitsky: “Check the highway code. There is no law that says I have to be on the left.”
Passenger: “Put it on youtube… [inaudible]… get run over.”

  • Guest

    The passenger is not paying “road tax” either. She does’t have to pay VED on any car to be there, just like cyclists don’t.

    The only passengers that pay “road tax” are those who use taxi cabs, indirectly. You could argue that taxi drivers don’t pay it either I reckon.

  • bigbluemeanie

    This is a nice and polite exchange, as you stated. Themitsky is a role-model to all of us with how to behave o ignorant drivers and their passengers.

    I recently had a run in with one:

  • Chris

    Well restrained, sir, especially given that the car was also in a bus lane

  • paul

    First of all I’m a cyclist and a driver,

    Themitsky has a good point and clearly in the right, he’s keeping to the left wherever possible, except for the bus lane. The driver is clearly out of order and in the wrong.

    In the second instance, how ignorant is that cyclist.??????

    Wise up mate, you are vulnerable on a bike and with a pious attitude like yours you’ll be in an early grave (and you’ll probably deserve it). Show some consideration to other road users, you’re getting people like me a bad name!!!!

  • Rose Kemp

    Good for this cyclist for standing up to the ignorant passenger, and very articulately too. I am a car driver, but my son cycles and I never cease to be amazed at the intolerance and appalling driving of other motorists when approaching cyclists. Cyclists need all the protection we can give them both on the road and within the law. They are so vulnerable but should be applauded for choosing bike over car.

  • madmax

    highway code rules for cyclists. No.68. You MUST NOT ride in a dangerous, careless or inconsiderate manner.
    i class this as inconsiderate and you are an imbecile.

  • happyskeptic

    There’s nothing “dangerous, careless or inconsiderate” about riding in the middle of a lane, quite the opposite in fact in many situations. The highway code makes it clear that cyclists have the same rights on the road as car drivers, including the right to take a lane.

    Also, section 163 of the Highway Code states “give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car (see Rules 211 to 213 and 214 to 215)”, a rule which the car driver in this video pretty clearly broke with their close-and-angry overtake of the cyclist.

  • Steve

    Paul. Your an idiot. It’s down to all road users to give all road users a wide berth regardless if you are on a bike or a bus. It’s not down to cyclists to be right up against the kerb just to let drivers through. Would you scream past a horse rider or slow down. This driver clearly does not know the Highway Code rather like yourself. It’s just a classic case of I drive a fast car so have right of way. Well I have news for you – you don’t. Also roads were around before cars.

  • Zen_Punk

    I appreciate that you are standing up for your rights but I question directing people to a website. Certainly it is difficult to explain such things in a brief exchange but most people who would antagonize a cyclist are not truly listening anyway. I think the chances that any motorist will actually go and look up the website are effectively zero.

  • carltonreid

    No. Happens a lot. Really.

  • Jules

    I’m so glad this cyclist was polite and calm. I wish he has said it was safer to cycling in the middle of the road because cars will then over take when its safer to do so and not force their way passed dangerously close to the cyclist. This driver ignored the huge “Keep Clear” markings on the road and was driving in a Bus Lane (Although it could have only had a time of day restriction?) so I feel she was not going to be reached by any amount of discussion!

    For those of you with more time: Ten years ago I was an angry young man on a bike, taking every aggressive or stupid bit of dangerous driving personally. Now if I’m a victim of dangerous driving I just say that I felt threatened, that I’m a Dad and could they face telling my children that they killed me unnecessarily. To suck it up and admit they made a mistake! Also “When you have calmed down and are at home with your family tonight, think about someone randomly taking YOU from them.” Remember their adrenalin is flowing as much as yours. Leave them with something to ponder on not to react against. Only last week in Esher a driver came back to pass me again. I suspected an aggressive reaction from them. The passenger wound down her window and she and the driver both apologised, the driver saying “I’m really sorry, I won’t let it happen again.” This would never have happened if I had got aggressive and pompous with the driver.

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