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.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.