Cyclists pay road tax too - and now you can let motorists know that

Twitter post inspires tax disc-emblazoned products to wear on the bike

by Simon_MacMichael   November 17, 2009  

ipayroadtaxtoo Jersey.jpg

“I pay road tax. Cyclists don’t.” It’s a phrase often trotted out by certain motorists when trying to back up their opinion that bicycles have no business sharing the road with cars.

But it ignores several uncomfortable facts. One, most adult cyclists are motorists themselves. Two, upkeep of highways is funded through general taxation, not road tax, or Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) as it’s properly termed. Not to mention the positive health and environmental effects of cycling.

Now, inspired by a post by a cyclist on the social networking site Twitter, journalist and publisher Carlton Reid is fighting back with the launch of a new website,

Last Friday, Twitter user Nick Bertrand sent a message – or ‘tweet’ – to the site saying, “I pay road tax/VED for the car I rarely drive. Should I wear a copy of the tax disk on my jersey? Would it help?” Carlton replied, telling him “great idea,” before embarking on a bike ride that produced a bit of a eureka moment.

Once back online, Carlton tweeted to say he’d registered the domain name and was going to produce cycling jerseys and arm-warmers with a tax disc motif. The response from other users was almost instantaneous, and within the space of hours, a two-word response to a 27-word tweet had evolved into a nascent business with orders already starting to queue up.

The site is in its infancy – and the jersey shown above a very early mock-up – and Carlton acknowledges that legal niceties may need to be ironed out in using an image of a tax disc on the products.

Items planned may be extended to include the likes of headset spacers, mugs, badges and even a bicycle logo emblazoned tax disc holder, as well as jerseys and arm warmers. The latter, Carlton says, would allow cyclists to point at the tax disc and, as he says, “it’s sure easier than getting a tattoo.”

To register your interest in any of the planned products, you can leave a comment on the site, send an email to, or – in keeping with the initiative’s origins – follow the latest developments on Twitter.

14 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Link is wrong Simon...

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1347 posts]
17th November 2009 - 13:01


Thanks Jimmy, just noticed that!

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9373 posts]
17th November 2009 - 13:05


Thanks for the story! And thanks for correcting the URL. I thought about calling it but even without the 'too' it's long.

The site - still in its infancy - will also carry rebuttal info on the other standard 'taxi driver' arguments thrown at cyclists.

@carltonreid's picture

posted by @carltonreid [7 posts]
17th November 2009 - 13:32


Cars cause road wear, bicycles don't. Road tax is also linked to the emissions of a vehicle, which of course bicycles don't make. Bicycles also take up minimal space on the roadway and have a minimal effect on congestion. This is why bicycles don't pay road tax and nor should they have to.

The t-shirt's a good idea.


posted by OldRidgeback [2553 posts]
17th November 2009 - 19:03


i think bicycle help saving the earth and we dont take much room in the road !! why the hell the uk gov wan money in any way they can !! uk gov SUCKS!!!!


bmthgil's picture

posted by bmthgil [4 posts]
17th November 2009 - 22:12


The UK Government does not have plans to make cyclists pay road tax Gil. I think you've got the wrong end of the stick.


posted by OldRidgeback [2553 posts]
17th November 2009 - 22:15


You'd better have long limbs for those arm warmers...

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1347 posts]
17th November 2009 - 23:17


And the best bit about it is that you have to apply for a new shirt every 6/12 months otherwise you'll get grief from any petrol heads (those that actually notice) for tax dodging. So, repeat business guaranteed?

Seriously: like the idea. It addresses general ignorance in a humourous, thought-provoking way, so stands a good chance of success.

curdins's picture

posted by curdins [36 posts]
17th November 2009 - 23:17


Two points

First, no one pays road tax. It's called Vehicle Excise Duty and is based on the emissions of the vehicle. As my bike is zero rated for emissions it seems only right and proper that there is no VED on it. So although I pay VED for my car I do not for my bike. So why make a jersey that implies that I do?

Secondly, in what sense will bringing this message- that bicycle riders also pay tax - help us out on the road? It isn't going to make car drivers suddenly think "oh I must pass them slowly and be careful not to cut them up at the roundabout". It seems a big ask that people as ill informed about road safety, the highway code, cycling, taxation etc etc as they are will be able to read a shirt and make this cognitive leap

vorsprung's picture

posted by vorsprung [298 posts]
18th November 2009 - 11:00


The point about it being VED is made in the story above and the people behind the jersey obviously understand that too, problem is that the vast majority of the motoring and general public don't seem to get that distinction - this is surely intended as a riposte to them by making the point that a lot of cyclists pay road tax because they also own cars. In fact I'm sure I've seen some data which showed that as a group cyclists tend to own more cars than the average for the general population.

How's it going to help, well if it makes the point, to those drivers ignorant of how the roads are actually funded, that cyclists have a right to be there it could contribute to improving driver behaviour… and it's done with some wit, okay the style might be a bit iffy though

hammergonewest's picture

posted by hammergonewest [105 posts]
18th November 2009 - 11:27


Yeh what he said Smile

Rode the E'Tape Caledonia - first sportiv ever and thoroughly enjoyed it

badbunny's picture

posted by badbunny [71 posts]
19th November 2009 - 14:57


Nice idea, but unfortunately most of the cretins who cut me up are apparently incapable of noticing several superbright flashing led's and are therefore very unlikely to register the design of shirt I'm wearing, or understand the subtleties of the argument behind it.

posted by wild man [293 posts]
21st November 2009 - 19:12


How about license plates for bikes so we can catch the thousands of them that run red lights! Devil

posted by The punisher [1 posts]
13th December 2009 - 2:05


The punisher wrote:
How about license plates for bikes so we can catch the thousands of them that run red lights! Devil

Yeah, cause car license plates have certainly stopped the four-wheel red light jumpers. What? Oh. Thinking

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7830 posts]
13th December 2009 - 10:07