It’s good to hear that Fiat is enlisting Olympic cyclists to front a ‘share the road’ campaign, as I reported on BikeBiz.com. Members of the British Cycling team will be working with Fiat to highlight the importance of cyclists and motorists sharing a finite resource: the roads of Britain. And Fiat has confirmed it no longer refer to ‘road tax’ in adverts, joining the AA and other organisations: the correct term is ‘car tax’ or ‘vehicle tax’ or Vehicle Excise Duty. VED is a tax on vehicle emissions, not a payment for use of roads.
Fiat is the Official Vehicle Supplier for British Cycling and is to run a campaign called “Let’s clear the air” to coincide with the launch of its revised Punto.
Geraint Thomas is one of British Cycling’s star riders who will be taking part in a campaign “to improve relations between cyclists and motorists on the road.”
Thomas said this would help show that “we’re not guys in Lycra who don’t pay taxes,” a reference to the abusive term “you don’t pay road tax” some drivers shout at cyclists.
One of the reasons the myth of “road tax” lingers is that car companies use the term in their advertising. Including, er, Fiat.
But not any more.
The “Let’s clear the air” campaign will avoid “road tax” references, as you’d expect with clued-up road cyclists on the payroll. Hopefully Fiat will start a trend and other car companies will steer clear of mentioning a tax killed in 1937, a tax used to intimidate cyclists.
Tom Johnston , press relations manager, told iPayRoadTax.com:
“We will only be referencing ‘No Vehicle tax’ when referring to the TwinAir engine (95g/km CO2), and when doing so we will never refer to cyclists in a negative way. Throughout the campaign we will continue to support relations between cyclists and motorists and we are very pleased to be working alongside British Cycling to reinforce this.”
Incidentally, in yesterday’s Metro newspaper, Thomas said: “Most cyclists own cars too, so we all need to try and get along.”
Last year, Ian Austin MP asked a parliamentary question about the numbers of cyclists who own cars. Minister for Local Transport Norman Baker revealed that, according to the National Travel Survey, 83 percent of cyclists own cars, which is a percentage point higher than the number of non-cyclists who own cars.
Does the fact some motorists don’t know what pays for roads bother you? Wear the iPayRoadTax jersey and tell the world!