A spoke in the tax wheel

ON THE face of it there is merit. Cyclists use the roads, why should they not face a tax as other road users do?

We know, from revelations in this newspaper last week and other sources, that governments are having to consider fresh ways of raising revenue to combat the severe restrictions that are about to be placed on public spending as the country tries to deal with its new mountain of debt.

As they look around it is no surprise that they consider cyclists. There is perhaps even a view, half in joke and full in earnest, that a minority of cyclists' cavalier attitude to the rules of the road would mean that the move would find favour among the non-cycling electorate. But that would be as wrong a reason for deciding on tax as simply deciding to tax on smugness alone.

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Putting aside such issues as whether such a tax could be implemented (there have been some very strange taxes in the past) or could be enforced, what this consultation paper does do is raise the principle.

Any tax on cycling would fly in the face of all government policy, which has largely been to encourage cycling. The reasons for that are sound and numerous. In the righteous fight for a healthier, less obese population and for a healthier, less car-clogged environment, the humble bicycle is a powerful weapon. We need to continue doing all that we can to promote its use, particularly in our cities, and any disincentives, like a tax, will be ultimately self-defeating.

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