The Scotsman: Peter Hayman: It’s the roads that damage the bicycles, and not the bicycles that damage the roads
Published Date: 12 January 2010
A ROAD tax for cyclists is not something that is likely to happen. It is not sensible. And it’s something that should not have been raised.
Cyclists do not damage the roads. They don’t do any more damage than pedestrians. It is the roads that damage the bicycles and endanger cyclists, and not the cyclists that damage roads.
We have been assured by the Scottish Government that they have no plans to actually bring in a road tax for cyclists. I think it was a tactical error to include it in the consultation.
Most cyclists are drivers as well and pay excise duty on their motors. In terms of value for money, cyclists pay back a vast amount in terms of a healthier society and people who have more time and energy for work.
Every cyclist means one less car on the road, and every cyclist means the road gets less damage.
I strongly support the idea behind the Cycling Action Plan of finding a way to make sure ten per cent of journeys are taken by bike. But this ten per cent target is just pie in the sky at the moment.
All areas benefit from more cyclists being on the roads.
In this country, we came to the same fork in the road as they did on the Continent when the fuel crisis came.
The difference there was made by the mothers who wanted to take their children to school by bike and didn’t like the traffic, and the public who didn’t like the town squares clogged with cars.
On the Continent, they said it wasn’t good enough so, for the last 25 years, there has been agreement that the car needs to be kept in its place.
Towns have become much more pleasant and they have reaped the benefits from that.
In this country at the same time, we have had a government that said cyclists were in the way and we needed to spend more money to get more cars on the roads.
People think the person in the car is more important than the person on the bike.
This needs to change. Things are changing, but it’s happening too slowly.
• Peter Hayman is councillor for Scotland for the CTC, the UK’s cyclist organisation.