Whatever You Own, It's Not the Road


Road Safety Awareness Week took place between the 18th and 24th of November, now it's over, we want to talk about the relationship between all road users, shining a light on less covered issues. Whether it's who should pay road tax and how much, or whether HGV's should be allowed in London at rush hour - everyone has an opinion.

Cycling Accident - Road Safety

Driven to Distraction

It is easy to forget that road users can become distracted, and it's not just drivers using a mobile phone, distractions take other forms such as radios, drinks and satnavs. Many are also discussing pedestrians, and how they are getting distracted and causing accidents.

Sure, two distracted pedestrians aren't likely to kill each other by bumping heads, but if a pedestrian is looking down at their phone, or just has headphones in, and crosses the road, they may not notice the car coming around the corner, or hear it coming. Studies have shown, people wearing headphones or talking on a mobile phone respond less to external stimuli, almost as if they're in a world of their own! This could also apply to cyclists.

Rush Hour

Gold medallist Chris Boardman found that only 5% of London's traffic comprises of HGV's, but a staggering 64% are involved in fatalities. He later proposed that HGV's shouldn't use the roads in London during rush hour.

With such alarming figures, it has to be worth seriously considering. Pedestrians and cyclists are far more vulnerable than those in vehicles, it could save lives.

Are Cyclists a Law unto Themselves?

Quite commonly people will ask whether cyclists follow the law, or even whether there is any law for them to follow!

The law states that it is a crime for a person to ride a cycle on the road without due care and attention, or without considering other road users.

Sound familiar? It's the same wording as is used for people using vehicles.

It can't be denied that some cyclists will break the law, and commit dangerous acts such as running a red light, but some motorists also break the law and act in a way that puts others at risk.

The argument does expose the decline in cycling proficiency in schools, which now operates under the Bikeability scheme. While motorists have to complete a theory and practical test, the Bikeability scheme isn't quite as widespread as the old cycling proficiency schemes.

I Pay Road Tax!

This is the big one. The most common argument against cyclists is that since they don't 'pay for the roads', their entitlement to the road is weaker, or should even be non-existent.

The problem with this argument is that there isn't a road tax - there is however, a 'Vehicle Excise Duty' (VED).

The amount of VED someone pays depends upon a vehicle's engine size, fuel type, and CO2 emissions, it is therefore an environmental tax. This money does not necessarily pay for the roads, it is just pooled with other taxes. In fact, all people who pay income or council tax pay for the roads. Many taxpayers who ride to work would also feel entitled to use the roads, just as motorists may do.

What about the driver of a Toyota Prius? The Prius is environmentally friendly due to being a petrol/electric hybrid, and as a result doesn't currently pay VED.

Does this mean we should ban it from the roads?

Can't we all just get along?

All road users have some common ground – the road!

Instead of relying on age old arguments to score points, we should all be looking at where there are clear safety issues, and what can be done to address them.

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