Cyclists, why are we paying for your bikes?

31 July 2013

My best mate revealed to me that his bicycle was wrecked. I asked if he would be buying a new one. He said yes, via the government’s Cycle To Work scheme. What the hell’s wrong with Halfords, I thought silently to myself.

Apparently the government will let you pay for a bike tax and NI free, and in instalments. Did you know that? Why am I paying for my friend to have a new bike through my taxes? Why am I subsidising the process whereby a perfectly decent human being is transformed into an arrogant, self-righteous, lycra-clad sociopath with homicidal intent towards people like me, ie pedestrians? At the very least they should make those who take advantage of the scheme carry organ donor cards. We’d clear up kidney disease within a week.

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  • Guest

    Why are cyclists paying more for road infrastructure than drivers? And before anyone responds with know-it-all disgruntled comments based on the taxes and fuel duty that [you] pay, do yourself a favour and learn the true economic impact of our dependency on cars including all the externalities which are enormous coupled with the fact that most cyclists also own cars.

    Pragmatism is the key, The Dutch and Danish have got it right and many European countries are catching up, but as usual the typical “Brit” thinks they are above anyone else in neighbouring countries and refuse to be told!

    And remember, The Netherlands being flat is just an excuse used by anti-cyclists against cyclists who already cycle in the UK.

  • The C C Cyclist

    You are paying because getting people out of cars and onto bikes creates a net profit to the tax payer and economy you ignoramus!

    I’m sorry that any economics more complicated than “my taxes are used for bikes but I don’t have one” is beyond you. Perhaps we should only pay for things we have or are benefiting from? I look forward to when you run the world and I’m owed a MASSIVE repayment of “all the stuff” I’m paying for and not benefiting from.

    While there are some cyclists that are as you describe it doesn’t mean anyone who uses a bike deserves what you suggest. Some of us have a clear conscience!

  • Richard Grassick

    Why? Because it’s a thousand times cheaper for the gvt to do this rather than build what is really needed, and is really their duty – proper cycling infrastructure. Perhaps if they took the same approach to pedestrians and failed to build any pavements, they’d offer a similar scheme for shoes.

  • Jack DuPrey

    My understanding is that schemes like this are in place to encourage the people of this country to exercise more frequently, which may just have the long-run impact of reducing NHS expenditure; where surely potential savings would be considerably higher than any forgone tax revenue.

    • Phil

      Yes you are right.
      But on reading all the other comments here, I think the anti-cyclist brigade like to use such tax benefits as an opportunity to rant about cyclists.
      I have illustrated in a few posts below that the true costs of running the roads goes way beyond maintenance, it actually runs at a loss because of all the externalities for example the NHS (as in poor health as well as road accidents and subsequent investigations). As such, rather than motorists paying for our bikes, an employed cyclists who pays income tax and chooses not to own a car is actually subsidizing the average motorist which is the complete contrary to what most motorists choose to believe.

  • Downfader

    I wouldn’t want to be your friend if you described me like that. Friends look out for one another and try to understand, you’ve just stabbed him in the back.

    Arrogant, self-righteous, sociopath? Sorry Rod, are you describing yourself? Most cyclists I know will help a stranger – even another rider giving them their innertube so a stranded rider can get home. I know so many riders that will pass on tips and advice for those new to cycling – from those looking to lose a little weight (perhaps Rod is jealous, poor man – have you tried cycling?) to those looking to save money on fuel costs and commute by bike.

    We’re not your enemy, often we’re here to help. Find us on the cycling forums, twitter, facebook, even in your workplace. All you have to do is ask and cycling will be your delicious oyster.

    • MrCommuter

      @Downfader:disqus can’t believe you’ve been down-voted for saying this. Pity the rest of the world can’t pull together in a similar manner to the mutual respect you are trying to offer up.
      To down-vote your post kinda illustrates the mentality our society is up against!

      • Downfader

        Its just one person.I can live with that :-)

  • Chris Kimberley

    Cycling to work relieves the burdens on overcrowded roads, especially during rush hour and the health benefits of cycling over sitting in a traffic jam listening to your arteries harden in your car will save the NHS money so the pre-tax salary sacrifice system is therefore a god thing

  • Phil

    You know it’s just dawned on me… I think Rod Liddle doesn’t care one way or another about the cycle to work scheme. He just published a controversial statement to get us all arguing… And if so, he’s done a very good job!

    Come on peeps, none of us know everything so maybe it’s time we started to engage in the reality that there’s always another side to every argument.

    • Don Shipp

      Yes, Rod is being the troll here. As you may have noticed by now this happens to be my hobby-horse and I’ve taken the bait.

      • Phil

        Yeah, you and me both! :-)
        Actually, Rod is the easiest one to dismiss here. It’s the short-sighted attitude of others that drew me into this conversation.

    • Phil

      In response to Oedipus (who’s comment is still awaiting moderation)…

      I haven’t only just cottoned on as such to Rod’s article, I’m far too seasoned to the anti-cyclist brigade to take what I see on the web literally, the text I used was simply to kick-off this thread.

      It has become quite apparent that most of what gets posted here cannot be taken literally simply because it is little more than an embellishment from folk who only witness 0.02% of what is a much bigger picture,

      • Oedipus Rex

        I wouldn’t disagree. Although this doesn’t apply so much to your good self, there are those who come across as so ludicrously self-righteous (even when they might actually be right!) as to do their arguments no favour at all.
        I cycle, I have a driving license but don’t own a car (I hire vans for work once in a while) and I’d love to be able to afford to use the train for long journeys (rarely nowadays). But even I am getting more and more annoyed with the mugs who think that being on a bike gives them some inherent moral superiority.

        • Phil

          Yes totally agree.

          In fact, your situation sounds very similar to mine. I gave up owning a car around a year ago and only hire vehicles when I have no other choice or when it works out at 33% of the cost of taking the train!
          I’d love to see a crackdown on idiots on bikes, but although I admit the greater good is still what’s important, I think what gets under my skin is that many anti-cyclist attitudes would smugly see it as a the first nail in the coffin for cycling freedom.

          The most frustrating thing is, many of the arguments drivers use against us I am actually in agreement with, the problem is they use it to collectively judge us all. I bet most of them would get very angry if we collectively accused them being irresponsible hit-and-run drivers. (I would never make such an accusation of course because that would lower me to the same level as the anti-cyclist brigade which I categorically oppose).

      • Oedipus Rex

        Since it has been modded out, let’s try a more sanitized version:

        So you’ve just cottoned on! It’s amazing how many ingenues descend
        into this online coliseum thinking it’s a version of Question Time when
        in truth it’s a place to have your pretensions and self-regard taken to pieces by the more worldly gladitorial legions.

        Late into this barney – but for what it’s worth it is the ‘Fixed Wheel
        Hipster’ that gets my goat, but that’s probably only just a cultural thing.

        I’m all for the scheme – I’ll be availing myself of it in about 3 months time when my clapped out hybrid needs replacing.

        And,for a direct answer to Rod’s question, the reason for the scheme is to wind up all those fat, arrogant, whinging drivers who see their private motoring as a sort of personal Road to Golgotha where they are martyred by VED/petrol tax/pesky cyclists and so on as they drive their company cars, dripping in sweat, listening to ‘Sultans of Swing’ or
        some such rubbish and nearly killing me whilst blabbing on their mobiles.

  • Phil

    After reading all the comments here, it has become clear that the most crazy thing of all, is that peoole still think there are more idiots on bikes than in motorised vehicles.

  • Don Shipp

    On behalf of all over-taxed cycling tax-payers who cycle I’d like to say that I have no objection to Rod availing himself of this scheme. I’m sure that you’ll find the staff at Halfords very helpful.

  • blingmun

    Cyclists also use roads without paying for them. Not only should they not be subsidised as described above, but if their number is to increase at current rates, they should be taxed in order to make way for motorists, who are the lifeblood of our economy and entire way of life.

    • Don Shipp

      Do you think that you know how the roads are paid for?

    • Phil

      Oh this is just getting silly now!
      You clearly do not understand the true cost of running roads and all the externalities which the average road user don’t seem to be able to comprehend.

      • Don Shipp

        Motorists are a bottomless well of utter and incurable ignorance.

        • Phil

          Don, I favorably replied to another of your posts further down, but here it is again:
          I heard a good one last night…
          Drivers are not on the roads as a right but as a privilege. They are there through licensing. Pedestrians and cyclists are all there by right and always have been long before the institutionalization of the automobile came along.
          In a nutshell, a driver can have their license taken away, but short of being put in prison or killed by a member of the anti-cyclist brigade, cyclists will always have a right to the road. For this reason alone, we have already won the battle regardless of how much noise the opposition makes.
          All that’s needed now is the masses to wake up and join the revolution.

    • martyn560

      Should we tax pedestrians too? They have had an entire network of pavements provided for them at my expense. Freeloaders.

      businesses that have become national or international companies, from small ones or start-ups, in the last decade due to the cycling boom:

      Rapha, vulpine, hope, brompton, boardman, mekk, genesis, orange, on-one, planet x, ribble, condor, cube, demon frameworks.

      Generating approximately £2.9bn for the economy – nearly enough to pay the NHS bills of obesity, in fact.

      You were saying something about the economy?

      • blingmun

        “You were saying something about the economy?

        It is possible to build motorised vehicles without the use of bicycles. The reverse isn’t true.

        • martyn560

          Are you really that stupid? Bicycles predate cars. Unless the Victorians had time machines, I think you might be wrong there.

          • blingmun

            I think you’ll find the Victorians made use of motorised vehicles.

            • martyn560

              They did not make use of anything you would call a ‘car’ – the motorwagen – until well after the popularisation of the penny farthing, and even then it was a curio, with less than one hundred built – I’m not sure if any even reached Britain.

              So the point stands: bicycles predate cars, so it must be possible to build bicycles without cars.

    • HebdenBiker

      How would taxing cyclists “make way” for motorists? What does that even mean?

      • blingmun

        Just like on the motorway. No cyclists. Hence they’re not in the way.

        I don’t know how to make this concept easier for you.

        • martyn560

          Is that why I spent an hour and a half stuck on the motorway recently? I’ve never had that delay on a road on which cyclists are allowed.

          Or coming home, when I was held up by a cyclist for all of ten seconds – and by someone doddling at 40 in a 60 limit, followed by 20 in a 30 limit, for ten minutes?

          In which situation is the cyclist the bigger cause of congestion?

  • jimcooper

    Yo Phil,
    Believe me, I never imagined it WAS to try to look cool. And let’s be honest, whilst it probably IS instrumental for the most zealous amongst you, can you say hand on heart that when you catch your reflection you don’t wince – sometimes! And I stand by my remark that you could be vulnerable to the attentions of those who might be seeking to indulge in the TeaRoom trade. So take care…

    • Phil

      The problem is jim, too many people pass judgement on what they think others should look like (and this isn’t just in opposition to Lycra). I don’t have high regards for the look of my body, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t wear swimming trunks when going to the swimming pool. The mere fact that people even comment on one’s attire indicates irrelevance.
      But thanks for the last comment, I will indeed take care and will continue to respect my obligations towards others on the road.

  • James M

    My workplace, an NHS employer, in addition to this bike to work scheme, also offers salary sacrifice schemes where you can get computing equipment, or, yes, cars, paid for out of your pre tax salary. Would Mr Liddle care to write some rubbish about this too? I’d be surprised if these were’t available at private sector employers too.

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