But I do pay car tax

I man drove his car at us when we were on the cargo bike this morning.

By us, I mean myself, my 5 year old and my 3 year old. He drove his car straight at us.

He wasn’t driving particularly fast, to be fair. But still, he saw us. He pulled out to pass parked cars on his side of the road. This meant he crossed the middle line  and was on our side of the road.

Now, to me, in that situation, I had right of way.

I strongly believe in riding assertively, especially with a bike as big and slow as a cargo bike. So I stood my ground and forced him to stop.

So, we had a chat.

I pointed out to him that I had right of way as he was pulling out to my side of the road to pass an obstruction.

He pointed out that I have no right of way because I am on a bike.

According to him, I do not pay road tax for my bike, therefore I have no rights whatsoever on the road.

I did point out to him that nobody pays road tax and that I do indeed pay car tax…for my car.

He countered that this payment only entitled me to use the roads in my car, not on a bike. Apparently, if I had any intelligence whatsoever, I would know that.

What do you say to this?

My car tax only costs £20 per year. I pay it because that is one of the costs of driving a private car. I do not believe that £20 entitles me to drive at those I do not agree with. To risk killing or injuring or terrifying them.

Personally, I have never understood why any pedestrian would cross a busy road without using a crossing when there is one right by them. But I would never feel justified to drive at them for their choice.

I like to think that I would never deliberately drive my car at anyone.

I would love to believe that this man’s attitude was a one-off. Sadly, I don’t believe it was. I believe that there are quite a few drivers out there who would agree with him. I believe this because of the sheer number of times drivers look me in the eye and aim their cars at me and my children.

This is why I am so loath to let my 5 year old ride his bike on the road.

How did we get to this point? A point where motorists’ sense of entitlement leads them to believe that they have more rights than anyone else? A point where drivers will risk injury or death to children because they pay a nominal fee each year. Because to give way would be to add 10 seconds to their journey. 10 seconds. It took him longer to tell me how lacking in basic intelligence I was.

More importantly, how do we turn this around?

I do not expect priority on the roads when I cycle. I expect to give way when it is not my right of way. I expect others to give way when it is not their right of way. I expect to follow the rules of the road. I expect to wait at red lights. I expect to share the roads.

As a stay at home mum to two small children, I deal with issues around sharing very very regularly. Annoyingly regularly. Tediously regularly.

But I do not know how to persuade some drivers that they really do need to share the roads.

Car tax entitles you to drive your car. Nothing entitles you to use your car as a weapon.

34 Replies to “But I do pay car tax”

  1. This is if course horrendous. No car driver should be able to do this but sadly they do. They then try to justify it by telling us they pay road fund tax. Which is an emisdions tax. Therefore bikes are not eligible.
    I think the only answer is for more and more and more of us to pour onto the road on our bikes everyday, everywhere until we own them!! Be safe out there!

    1. I think there’s a bit of a catch 22 though. Lots more folk would cycle if they felt the roads were safe. They don’t feel safe on a bike because of attitudes like this, so they drive a car instead and are a part of the problem

  2. The underlying problem of dicks that can’t be confused by facts doesn’t go away, but the list of VED exempt motor vehicles looks like this…
    electrically propelled vehicles, vehicles older than 40 years, trams, vehicles which cannot convey people, police vehicles, fire engines, ambulances and health service vehicles, mine rescue vehicles, lifeboat vehicles, certain road construction and maintenance vehicles, vehicles for disabled people, certain agricultural and land maintenance vehicles, road gritters and snow ploughs, vehicles undergoing statutory tests, vehicles imported by members of foreign armed forces, and crown vehicles.

    You could ask the next one if he thinks he has automatic right of way over a police car…

    Though as noted, the fundamental problem is you’re dealing with a moron in possession of both a motor car and a sense of entitlement, and it’s going to take a major public information exercise to get over that. Sadly, not much political capital in telling these types they’re wrong, so I’m not holding my breath. It’d be War On The Motorist, innit? ;-/

    (List from the Wikipedia)

    1. I think we need to find a way to get the self interest across to ordinary (non-cyclist) people. If more folk used a bike for short journeys there would be less cars on the road. Less cars means less congestion. Less congestion means less holds ups. So more bikes on the roads means faster overall car journeys for when you really do need a car (I do have a car and I do use it)!

    2. Road tax was abolished by Churchill, its vehicle excise duty. The cost of upkeeping the roads, motorways and the secondary costs of traffic delays, NHS and police cost of dealing with collisions, traffic design (lights, crossings, signs, etc.) comes out of all the taxpayers’ money.

      You had a right of way and that person discriminated against you, because you were on a bike.

      He’s paying about 50p a day to use a great chunk of public land, make noise, pollute, cause traffic jams and he thinks he’s some kind of a saviour.

      Sadly there are many more of him. Let us have the patience to deal with his kind.

      1. I think you are absolutely right – we need to respond with patience, not anger. A yelling, ranting cyclist just makes these folk feel vindicated in their actions. Hard to do though.

  3. I’d further suggest take pictures showing situation and number plate and off to the police. Since he’s right what objection would he have?

  4. I think until we get decent infrastructure, the only way this kind of thing can be tackled is through enforcement. This is why I have so far submitted 37 videos to Greater Manchester police under Operation Considerate since they started accepting them in April. Every one has been dealt with either through a Police Reform Act Section 59 warning (about 50%), a driver awareness course at their own expense or, in once case, a prosecution in court. These idiots will not respond to reason, so they need to be shown there are cosequences for them. I hope more and more people will start to take this action through the police.
    I find I don’t get angry at them now; revenge is a dish best served cold.

  5. Walkers, horse riders and cyclists all use the highway by right. But drivers of motor vehicles do so only under licence. The “right” to drive a motor vehicle on the public highway arises not from the paying of taxes for said vehicle, as has been pointed out by others many motor vehicles are tax exempt. The right to drive under licence requires compliance with the terms of the licence. Failure to comply leads ultimately to disqualification of the driver. Not ceding to right of way is ultimately a failure to comply with your licence. Ditto close passing, breaking the speed limit etc. Too many drivers seem to believe that the acquiring of a licence to drive gives licence to drive as they choose, not licence to drive within the law.

  6. I am so sorry that this happened to you – and to your children.
    The sense of entitlement which some drivers have must be politely and courteously rebutted by all of us every time we come across it.
    I usually use the argument that if there are Highway Code rules to which I must adhere, clearly the Department for Transport sees me as traffic.
    My husband hates it when I engage with a crass driver, but how else can we change this ridiculous mentality?

    1. ‘Politely and courteously’ absolutely. We have to put across a positive image of cycling…even when we are fuming. I also think that by engaging with drivers we reinforce that we are first and foremost, people

      1. It sounds like you subscribe to collective responsibility for disparate human beings who happen to use bicycles.

        1. The game is not to assume collective responsibility for anyone on a bike, but to impress the fact upon the general population that “cyclist” does not necessarily imply the generally negative stereotypes (e.g., degenerate freeloaders who don’t pay for the roads so don’t deserve to use them, etc.) typically associated.

  7. I’m glad to read that you and your children are OK – that’s important to remember.

    I think that this can only be prevented by education of learner drivers. It has to be instilled early and in the next generation of drivers. I’d dare bet that this bloke you encountered was an older, “experienced” driver. Like the comments above, these people cannot be reasoned with. Fines, awareness courses etc might temporarily have some effect, but ultimately, enforcing this is nigh on impossible.

    I wear a camera on my helmet with the hope that
    A) drivers see it and think twice
    B) in the event that there is an incident, footage is on my side.

  8. I’m sorry this happened to you. I hope it doesn’t discourage you (I often don’t want to cycle for a few days after a bad experience…)

    Your last paragraph is really spot on, and perhaps this is the best way to respond to the “road tax” misconception, as it is short (even short enough for Twitter!) and to the point:

    “Car tax entitles you to drive your car. Nothing entitles you to use your car as a weapon.”

    There are lots of debates on social media explaining that “road tax” doesn’t exist, but it seems to me that these arguments (although true) are not effective. The key point is that paying money simply does not allow you to break laws and endanger other people, no matter how much and what kind of taxes and duties you pay.

    Or would these drivers also say that paying council tax then allows me to kick a student (who’s exempt) when he’s walking too slowly in front of me on the pavement?

  9. [quote]A point where motorists’ sense of entitlement leads them to believe that they have more rights than anyone else?[/quote]
    Because when they kill they don’t get punished. Most of the time they don’t get charged, and sometimes they don’t even get investigated.

  10. I’m surprised that no-one has mentioned the difference in the wear on the roads caused by different vehicles. It is not proportionate to weight – a car causes thousands of times more wear than a bicycle. eg: https://streets.mn/2016/07/07/chart-of-the-day-vehicle-weight-vs-road-damage-levels/

    There are also increasing worries about particulates emitted by tyres and brakes of all cars – including electric ones. Far more than those emitted by a bicycle.

    Grahame Cooper, I am gratified to hear that your reports to GMP are having an effect. I used the Met Police’s Roadsafe page to report an elderly gentleman who drove past me, at low speed and without any aggression, but so closely that he clipped my elbow with his wing mirror. I suggested in my report that he needed to be investigated to see if he was no longer fit to drive. The response I got was that no action would be taken because of no realistic prospect of conviction. I haven’t bothered reporting anything else since.

    1. I think the Met are likely to improve in this respect as are many other forces across the country. The met is the latest force to implement an Operation Close Pass following from the good work done by West Midlands Police. GMP started doing this – putting plain clothes cops on bikes to catch offending drivers – late last year, then followed up this year with the third party video initiative. Things are finally changing on this front.

  11. “Personally, I have never understood why any pedestrian would cross a busy road without using a crossing when there is one right by them.”

    Possibly because if traffic lights are involved, the timings are set to be so pedestrian-unfriendly that it is not worth using them. Around here you can wait for 3 minutes for TfL-controlled pedestrian lights to change, even if the traffic is crawling through at a walking pace. Would motorists expect to wait 3 minutes for a traffic light to change? I don’t think so!

  12. Oh poor you. If you gave a damn about your children’s safety you would not ferry them around where they became the crumple zone. Furthermore you could tell that the driver was going to behave this way but instead of keeping your offspring safe you decided to instigate the matter. I don’t get why you would challenge the safety of your children to prove a point, with that point being ‘there are some drivers who can be dicks’ which I must point out that any road user would at one point have come across someone like that. Grow a pair and consider the safety of your children over a self entitled ego trip you seem to be on.

    1. Concerned Road User? Obviously concerned about the tens of thousands of people who die from car pollution each year, much to busy victim-blaming instead.

      1. Where are these tens of thousands of people who die from car pollution each year? I mean if this is genuinely a thing you should be easily able to pull up records of death certificates where this was the case. Now the reality is people are not dropping like flies because they live near a road. I mean I doubt Waitrose will start swapping their fleet of lorries to cargo bikes as that would be terribly inefficient not to mention the price of brioche will inevitably go up. Alas logic and reason should prevail and the reality is no matter how green our cars are China and the developing world are kicking out far more pollution than we ever will. But back to the point at hand. Children make lousy crumple zones and even worse airbags.

        1. Unfortunately, the press report these thing in a gossly over-simplified manner. The reality is explained in great detail here: http://energydesk.greenpeace.org/2017/03/06/air-pollution-cause-40000-deaths-every-year-fact-check-linked/

          There is lots of evidence now that living near busy roads is hazardous to health because of the poor air quality that results. If you really want to see then you need to do your own research, but here is one particular study about the effects on children: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126992/

          A particularly well studied topic now is the reationship between living near busy roads and increased risks of demenia – particularly alzheimer’s disease. NOx emissions and particularly PM2.5 particulates have been shown to be linked to this.

          1. Greenpeace, the company that mask’s itself as a charity and produces bias reports to enforce its own existence? as for the conclusion on journal you linked from 2014 it stated that they did not have any real solid evidence to prove that there was a case.

            What next, chemtrails are directly linked to cyclists running red lights?

  13. Although the problem is older than Clarkson it was him on telly berating cyclists for being in his way that made this sense of entitlement among some drivers vastly worse.
    A while back I had a driver swerve at me as he passed not once but three times. When I had the opportunity to question him it was because I wasn’t wearing a helmet.
    Sadly the ability to drive is the only criteria people need, not the ability to share, have empathy or even basic intelligence, before they are given a licence.

  14. It’s actually against the law to ride a bicycle on what is commonly called ‘the pavement’ (by rights it should be called a ‘footway’ ) as they are classed as carriages and therefore should be on the carriageway (aka road) .This has been the case since 1888 when s85(1) of the Local Government Act declared that “bicycles, tricycles, velocipedes, and other similar machines are ‘carriages’ within the meaning of the Highway Acts”.
    The maximum penalty for riding on a footway is a £500 court issued fine or the police may issue a £50 fixed penalty notice. Sadly too many people amongst both cyclists and car drivers/motorcyle riders are unaware of this legislation.
    It never ceases to amaze me how many road users are ignorant of the relevant laws. I have had car drivers threaten to knock me off my motorcycle for filtering at traffic lights ( travelling between lanes to the front of the queue) even tho filtering is quite legal.
    All motorists are required to read and know the Highway code as part of gaining their licence but in my opinion this is insufficient. We should all be required to also know and understand the laws pertaining to usage of the carriageways.

  15. Whilst in an ideal world we wouldn’t need it, I can only suggest getting a helmet camera to record such incidents and explain that the vehicle registration and their face will be shown online and the clip sent to the police who can “advise” them of the truth.

  16. As a new cyclist who has only been out and about for a few months, I’ve unfortunately come across this sort of behaviour already. I don’t know what the answer to it is but I’m fairly sure education plays a big part. Why do these people feel entitled? Because they don’t understand ‘the facts’ and society says that ignorance of these facts is ok.

    1. I completely agree. I think drivers attitudes and behaviour is often caused by ignorance and a lack of understanding rather than intentional aggression. There is much work to be done on developing understanding between different road users.

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