You don’t pay any road tax!
Yes, we know you are using the term “road tax” to mean VED (Vehicle Excise Duty). It’s not a road tax though – it’s a tax on your vehicle.
It’s based the CO2 emissions, age and cost of your vehicle. There are many vehicles on the road – zero emission vehicles like EVs, older ones with low emissions, and ones older than 40 years – that pay £0 in VED. These cars have the same right to use the road as other cars, as do cyclists.
The tax you pay on your car is not ringfenced to fund roads. It could be used for the NHS, education, defence, or any number of other things. VED doesn’t come close to covering how much we spend on roads – we spend around £12bn on roads whilst only taking in around £7bn in VED.
So, how are roads funded? Through other taxes – income tax, VAT, council tax etc. The same taxes that everyone pays. Including cyclists. Does someone with a higher income or bigger house have more right to use the roads? No.
How much damage does a bike cause to roads? Very little – it’s tiny compared to a normal car, and virtually nothing compared to heavy EVs and SUVs.
Around 80% of cyclists also drive. Those cyclists are subject to exactly the same VED as everyone else.
So “road tax” doesn’t pay for the roads, it doesn’t give you a right to use the roads, and cyclists are subject to the same taxes as drivers.
You aren’t insured!
Third-party insurance covers road users if they cause damage during an accident which is their fault. The amount you pay for insurance is calculated based on the risk of you causing an accident and the severity of any damages.
Drivers are far more likely than cyclists to cause severe and widespread damage. For this reason, motor insurance is expensive, and cycle insurance is very cheap. Every year, houses and shops are demolished by cars, and multiple pedestrians hit by a single car. It’s vanishingly unlikely that a cyclist could cause such damage. Insurers understand risk – if bikes caused huge amounts of damage frequently, they would charge more for their insurance.
Per year, good third-party cycle insurance costs me around £12. It costs so little that nearly all home contents insurance policies include it for free. Membership of British Cycling – around 160,000 people in the UK- includes insurance. And nearly all club cyclists have insurance via their club.
As a result, a very large portion of adult cyclists, particularly those that cycle often, have third-party insurance. It just costs them a lot less than motor insurance.
In comparison, it is estimated that there are around 1,000,000 uninsured drivers on British roads. Drivers that regularly cause significant damage and kill people.
You don’t have an MOT!
A bike is a very simple machine. There is very little to go wrong with them that a rider won’t quickly notice. There are not many issues with a bike that could put others at risk. Specifically, most faults that would put others at risk will also put the rider at risk – it is therefore in the riders interest to keep the bike safe. Many cyclists perform regular checks on their own bikes to keep them in good condition. And most maintenance can be carried out easily and cheaply at home.
In comparison, cars are so complex that there can easily be latent faults that the driver won’t notice. Maintenance is expensive and complex, and is rarely done at home. Many drivers don’t perform even rudimentary checks such as fluids and tyre pressures. And there are plenty of faults that put others at significant risk.
It simply isn’t worth performing a periodic MOT on a bike – there just isn’t enough risk to warrant it. Even if a bike does have a safety-related fault, the damage it could cause compared to a car pales into insignificance (see insurance above).