Three Key Reasons Cyclists Should Not Pay UK Road Tax

Sunday 12th March 2017

The whole issue about cyclists paying road tax has created so many social media disputes. It's frustrating and borderline annoying the constant points being raised about those who choose to ride a bike should be contributing to the maintenance of British roads. At the end of 2016, there was an online petition to force cyclists to pay road tax and have insurance. This motion didn't make it to parliament but it obvious shows the social and political divide between cyclists and motorists. Leisure Lakes Bikes have picked out 3 main points which should put the argument to rest (but you know someone somewhere will have something to respond!)

1. Road tax no longer exists in the UK

The first argument is also the one that could settle the debate before it has the chance to develop — road tax does not exist in the UK. In fact, it hasn’t for many years. Winston Churchill set the wheels in motion for road tax to be abolished across the country in 1926, with this finally achieved in 1937. More recently, motorists are required to pay a Vehicle Excise Duty (VED for short) and the maintenance and creation of roads in the UK are paid for through both general and local taxation schemes.

Now, we have read endless comments from people trying to educate others that Road Tax does not exist. The point that electric and some hybrid cars also don't pay 'road tax' because this charge is based on emissions and they don't create any same as bikes still does not get through to some people. It's a tunnel vision view because motorists feel because they pay something for using their car, cyclists should too regardless of this counter argument. Throw in that we all pay tax in some sort of way and all at different rates and amounts with it all going into one pot then divided up by the government at their discretion, Leisure Lake Bikes are right, this should end the argument but we like a moan don't we people?!

2. It would be a waste of time for cyclists to pay VED

When it comes to Vehicle Excise Duty, the rates are split into bands and are based on a vehicle’s engine size or fuel type and carbon dioxide emissions — all dependent on the date that the vehicle was registered. Bring a standard road bike into the equation then and the following will be recorded:

  • It doesn’t have an engine.

  • It doesn’t use fuel – just the power exerted by the rider.

  • It doesn’t emit carbon dioxide.

The result of these findings is that the VED to the cyclist for their bike would be £0 — the same rate applied to Band A motorists.


As we've mentioned, it's not road tax, it's VED which is based on emissions. Some clever clogs will somewhere will point out that somewhere down the line in bike manufacturing, a carbon footprint is left. We would be happy to pay this as a charge when we purchase a new bike. Being eco-friendly is something that can not be underestimated, we have trouble working out why our local supermarket uses a plastic bag for each item when we collect our shopping so challenging society to change and help care for the planet is something which is we like to think it starting to become prominent. 

3. Cyclists already pay their way in the maintenance of UK roads

Another matter to consider is that any money from the Vehicle Excise Duty charge goes back into a central pot. This does not necessarily go back into looking after UK roads. Instead, money from the such schemes as income tax and council tax will pay for the provision of public services. This can be the maintenance of the nation’s hospitals, train services or, of most importance to this piece, the road network. Of course, cyclists will pay both council tax and income tax in the same manner as everyone else in the UK.


So knowing where your tax goes is something we should all be aware of. Just because we pay a charge doesn't give us a right over it. It's a charge for a reason. And it's often the council tax pot which covers road maintenance (Hounslow Council if you are reading this, Whitton Dene is an absolute state!). So educating yourself about local and government budgets will go far in understanding where your income and council tax goes towards. Obviously, what the government and councils say and do can often be two different things!