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5 Fallacious Anti-Cycling Arguments

There seems to be quite a vociferous anti-cyclist lobby out there who, for whatever reason, don’t like cyclists on the roads. I will openly admit that there are bad cyclists, untrained cyclists, cyclists who do not follow the laws of the roads and the Highway Code, and cyclists who are a danger to themselves (and others). But there are a handful of arguments often put forward by the non-cycling brigade, who are ignorant of cycling and cycle safety, which are guaranteed to make them look either stupid, or just very ill informed.

[1] But I Pay to Use The Roads / I Pay Road Tax

This one is guaranteed to get up the noses of cyclists as it is just so plain wrong. The road network system is available to everyone. No one pays to use it. There is no system to allow anyone to pay to use roads, (apart from toll roads and London’s Conjestion Charge). There is no denying that motorists are taxed heavily, but let us remind ourselves of the taxes which apply.

Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) or ‘Road Tax’ is a pollution tax based on emissions. Vehicle Keepers need to pay this to allow them to legally use or leave a car on the road network system. Fuel tax is the tax paid upon purchasing fuel. It’s a tax on the use of fuel. VAT is paid on non-essential items, like cars, (and bikes too!). No one is ‘paying to use the roads’. Not only that, these taxes do not go directly to road funding, road building or repairs. New roads and upgrades are funded from central government while repairs are funded from Local Authorities. The funds for new roads and upgrades comes from general taxation (that’s income tax, VAT, and all the other taxes we as citizens are subjected to) and cyclists pay this as much as anyone else.

If there is anyone out there who still wants to bang-on that cyclists don’t pay tax, perhaps they could explain how cyclists can get a rebate of Income Tax, Council Tax, VAT, (not to mention the motoring taxes we pay) and all the other taxes we are subject to as I am sure that I am due a hefty rebate!

[2] Cyclists Don’t Obey The Law

The traffic offences which cyclists typically flout are riding on the pavement and not stopping on red traffic lights. Those who have ever stopped to consider why cyclists do this (or even ask them) will find that cyclists often feel safer on the pavement: out of the way of heavier traffic, and they don’t want to be amongst the traffic when the lights turn green. Many cyclists will see this as being safe. Many motorists will use this behaviour as an argument to make out that cyclists are a bunch of anarchist scofflaws (who don’t pay tax! see [1] above).

But before declaring that all cyclists are lawbreakers by nature, stop for a second to consider that not all cyclists break the law. Or that this is no different to drivers who routinely break speed limits, text while driving, park illegally (disabled bays, footpaths, cycle lanes, yellow lines, bus stops etc) not forgetting, failing to observe road markings and road signs, driving under the influence of drink/drugs and of course that old chestnut, jumping red lights. Red light cameras were designed for (and catch) motorists, not cyclists, don-cha-know?

[3] Cyclists Are Untrained and Should Not Be on The Road

Most adult cyclists also hold a drivers licence. There are also cycle training schemes specifically designed for cycle safety. While it is true that there is no legal requirement to be trained to ride a bike on the road, most cyclists do have some form of formal training in using the roads.

[4] Cyclists Should Use The Facilities That Were Specially Built For Them.

If you have ever tried to use the UK cycling facilities you will soon realise they are not fit for purpose, and who are they designed for anyway? It seems to me that if you provide a substandard facility for cyclists, the only benefactors are the drivers who want cyclists out of the way. Much of the cycling infrastructure comprises of on-road cycle lanes and shared use footpaths both of which can be dangerous to use. On-road lanes often place the cyclists in a dangerous position in the road, but when they most need some from of protection, the cycle lane just ends. Shared use paths might be OK at very low speeds but for those who wish to ride at speeds above walking pace, the road is invariably safer as well as quicker, and more convenient.

[5] Cyclists Should Ride By The Edge Of The Road And Stay Out Of Harms Way

The most DANGEROUS place for a cyclist to ride is too close to the kerb or verge. Riding in such a position means that cars coming up behind will not recognise the cyclists as a hazard and so are likely to pass without moving over at all. This can lead to close passes and collisions. Drivers who do recognise the cyclist on the edge as a hazard may just concentrate on the gap they see and pass without pulling over far enough for safety, this is especially so if there is oncoming traffic. Traffic emerging from both right and left will not be looking to the edge of the road for conflicting traffic, they will be looking in the direction of where traffic normally comes from. That’s the middle of the road. Finally, riding close to parked cars and someone throwing open a door, can mean the cyclist is pushed into (or under) other traffic.

One Response to 5 Fallacious Anti-Cycling Arguments

  • Thank you for posting this, I live in Boston, but hadn’t seen it. I alatulcy drive much more than I bike because I work 40 minutes away from home, but I’ve noticed Boston’s efforts to become more bike friendly in the last couple years with new bike lanes all over the place. I think that’s great, but as a driver more often than a biker I can tell you I am always a little afraid of bikers when I see them around me. Just as Jessie mentioned, the problem is I just don’t know what any given biker is going to do. I have frequently seen bikers run both stop signs and red lights, not signal, move unexpextedly around the road, go the wrong way down the middle of our one-way streets, etc. I also see many bikers do everything right, but bikers who don’t follow the rules give everyone a bad name and make it hard for drivers to learn how to properly share the road. I’m hoping now that the city is making the effort over time everyone will become more accustomed to this, but in the meantime I just try and give all bikers lots of room!Also, I just want to say that I so enjoy this blog. I don’t bike much, I’m not yet a parent, but after following you on academichic for a long time it was so great to know that one of you was still writing! Whatever the topic I enjoy your voice and feel like it’s great to read about, not only things I do frequently, but also things I know very little about.So thanks!Jenny