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.”