BBC Look East forced to set the record straight on 'road tax' … er, VED + Video

Cyclists 'get off their high horses' and complain in massive number forcing programme to correct error

by Tony Farrelly   May 25, 2010  

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Following a deluge of complaints from cyclists the BBC regional new programme Look East has been forced to broadcast a correction (watch it below) to a piece in which its reporter, Kim Riley, failed to correct a viewer's comment about "road tax" while reading out a number of anti-cycling tirades from Mr and Mrs Angry of Ipswich and all points east.

The original Look East story featured helmetcam footage shot by cyclist Paul Jones of him being hit from behind by a driver as he pulled out to avoid another car parked in a cycle lane.

The film provoked a strong response over in East Anglia and if wasn't very sympathetic to Mr Jones. instead Look East reporter Kim Riley read out a string of anti cycling comments from viewers one of which repeated that hackneyed refrain that cyclists have no place on the road because they don't pay road tax, a statement which hasn't been remotely true since 1936 and which even then wasn't true either - the roads belong to everyone – a fact Mr Riley failed to correct or challenge. In fact the BBC reporter appeared as ignorant of the who and how of road funding in this country as some of those whose spleen he was venting on air.

 

Riley's failure to point out that there is no such thing as 'road tax' got Look East in to trouble with cyclists all over the country who were incensed that such a factually incorrect statement could be broadcast unchallenged on a BBC news programme potentially helping spread the lie further. A fact not lost on Carlton Reid of iPayRoadtax.com who quickly set about mobilising a response from the cycling community.

The ensuing tidal wave of complaints means that error has now been rectified with an on-air piece in which Kim Riley returned to Gilbert Road to read out all the angry and insulting emails… it was the televisual equivalent of a trip to the stocks for the village idiot.

Fair dos though, he took it like a man.

Britain's roads are paid from from general taxation, every taxpayer pays for them and every citizen has the right to use them whether motorist, cyclist or pedestrian. iPayRoadTax.com was set up to counter the myth that only those who pay Vehicle Excise Duty, commonly called by some "road tax" but more accurately a "car tax" have a right to be on the road. VED is calculated on the basis of the likely wear and tear caused to the highways by different types of vehicles - cyclists don't pay it because bicycles don't cause any wear and tear. In fact VED does not cover the full cost of maintaining and repairing the roads - that too is mainly met by the general taxpayer. 

11 user comments

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Glad Look East corrected themselves, now only if we could get this message broadcast on national news to correct the ignorance of so many car drivers... My parents had a family friend round the other day and he started talking about cyclists not paying road tax, I had to bite my tongue and changed the subject swiftly rather than correcting him, in hindsight I should have corrected him, but there we go.

All the gear and no idea!

posted by JonMack [171 posts]
25th May 2010 - 13:51

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He did go back to try and fix the damage but the initial reporting and presenting on the 'sofa' in the studio makes it all jokey and fun. It isnt, if drivers have the opinion that they are justified in running over cyclists because "cyclists dont pay road tax" I just cant see where the humour is.

not all carbon is the same.

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posted by Jon Burrage [1080 posts]
25th May 2010 - 13:57

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I think the BBC did this on purpose to increase viewings and probably not in the way they wanted it.

Good show "I pay road tax" team and all the cyclists who complained.

Bite your tongue? why be scared if you're in the right JM?

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posted by Zaskar [137 posts]
25th May 2010 - 14:51

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Because I'm young, and ignorant adults often seem to think that age > knowledge.

All the gear and no idea!

posted by JonMack [171 posts]
25th May 2010 - 15:03

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JonMack, with you on that one, try working with people that think that way.

not all carbon is the same.

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posted by Jon Burrage [1080 posts]
25th May 2010 - 15:30

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JonMack wrote:
Because I'm young, and ignorant adults often seem to think that age > knowledge.

Experienced maybe, but nobody is right all of the time, no mater how old or young you are.

I would love to photocopy my vehicle ex. disc and stick that to my bike as a joke just to see what drivers say but I've been lucky so far that alot of drivers around Bristol will give you way.

I bet the BBC will think twice in future about slagging bikes off. No they probably won't will they... Wink

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posted by Zaskar [137 posts]
25th May 2010 - 16:24

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I was one of the complaining cyclists to Look East and I demanded an on air apology - seemed like they were listening.

But it shouldn't have happened in the first place.

posted by Karbon Kev [670 posts]
25th May 2010 - 17:06

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JonMack wrote:
Because I'm young, and ignorant adults often seem to think that age > knowledge.

On the contrary, Jon, my daughter is sixteen with a bit of a bee-in-her-bonnet about ecology, leaving on lights, killing innocent little lambs for Sunday lunch etc etc but because she is pretty reasonable with her arguments leaves her elders speechless with admiration. Not that we have too many Daily Mail readers around but I think old people will cut youngsters a bit of slack for having a reasoned opinion if all they were expecting was incoherent mumbling. She saves that for the parents.

posted by nick_rearden [859 posts]
25th May 2010 - 22:45

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I made a complaint, but I didn't demand an on-air apology.

But what is really needed is for Daily Mail type newspapers [oxymoron] to cease to exist.

The trouble is that people like to read opinion pieces based upon prejudice and without any factual basis. Until that demand ceases, the market for such fish-wrap will continue, until a decent state education system exists.

posted by Recumbenteer [144 posts]
26th May 2010 - 10:32

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It doesn't say here and I didn't see the cclip but did the person from Look East point out that the car driver's actions represented an offence? And has the BBC attempted to locate the offending driver? If not, then the on-ai apologies are just hot air.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2164 posts]
26th May 2010 - 13:24

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I thought it was a very good piece and although light hearted they managed to get across the error of their ways.

Regarding the offending driver, they state in the report that the police dealt with the situation therefore I would think that it is resolved satisfactorily.....unless of course you want the driver in the stocks in the town centre?

You can't go back in time and I think the BBC did a fair job at eavening out the report, and at least they will think twice in future about their reporting tactics.

Well done all who campaigned Smile

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

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posted by badbunny [71 posts]
27th May 2010 - 8:04

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