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Should cyclists pay to use roads?

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cyclists should pay road tax

One of the oldest tropes in letters to your Facebook newsfeed is the anti-cyclist screed. This missive advances bold thinking in arriving at the obvious conclusion that cyclists should not be on the roads.

Last year, in U.K., more than 38,000 people have signed an online petition calling for cyclists to be obliged to hold insurance to use public roads.

Owen McDermott, who created the petition, said: “The public roads used by motor vehicles are becoming unsafe to use due to one particular community that feel they are eligible to cycle on public UK roads.

“If a cyclist throws him or herself into the back of a stationary motor vehicle, who’s to blame? Not the cyclist. The driver of the motor vehicle would have to pay their own excess to repair the damages.”

However, the entire “cyclists don’t pay road taxes” argument rests on a gigantic myth: that somehow, cyclists are monolithic automatons who do nothing but ride bikes. In this caricature, we are not also business owners and workers, homeowners, consumers and, often, car owners who pay all the taxes that fund roads.

Even if the moneyfor all roads did come from road taxes, most cyclists own cars. We may not drive them quite as much because we use bikes for some errands, but we still pay registration fees like any car owner, and we still pay gas taxes when we fuel up.

Since a significant amount of road funding is devoted to maintenance, it’s worth noting that bicycles create wear and tear orders of magnitude less than automobile traffic, which itself is an order of magnitude less than truck traffic.

If you’re still not convinced, you probably have an irrational problem with cycling. Please, do yourself a favour: Realise it’s irrational (bicycles do far more good than harm) and then get over it.

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