Petition Closed

Petition to block Owen McDermott's poorly informed petition asking for cycling taxes.

This petition had 4,140 supporters

Owen McDermott's petition is gaining support very quickly. We owe it to him and everyone signing it to educate them about the false premises of his arguments

We, the undersigned, would like to petition the government in the case that Owen McDermott's ill informed and badly argued petition entitled "Cyclists to hold insurance to use public UK roads" reaches government.

It can be found here:


(Why he has chosen to petition David Cameron who now holds no governmental power is beyond us, but please forward this to him too).

Owen says that "The public roads built for motor vehicles are becoming unsafe to use due to one particular community that feel they are eligible to drive on public UK roads." There are a number of problems with this statement that I will now outline. (All the below is mine with exception of 5c. and 6. which I have copied and pasted from the comments under the video on Facebook which inspired Owen McDermott's original petition).

1. Public roads were originally given hard surfaces due to the petitioning and other actions of cyclists, not motorists, so Owen should beware that claiming that roads are built for motorists may rightly appear misleading and erroneous.

2. It's more commonly understood that cyclists 'cycle' or 'ride', although to say a bicycle is pedal-driven would also be correct. Unsurprisingly though, it's drivers who drive, I imagine this has something to do with the 'drive' shaft in motorised vehicles.

3. Cyclists do not just "feel" they are eligible to cycle or ride their bikes on public roads, they know they have a right to do so on 2 grounds. 1, The Highway Code tells cyclists that they can use public roads, and 2, yes, it's back to that old chestnut again, the roads were originally put in place so cyclists had a smooth surface to use their bikes on rather than dirty, muddy, uneven and dangerous tracks.

4. The roads (which were originally put in place for cyclists) have indeed become dangerous, but not because of cyclists. In fact, there is one group of road users who ride around (sorry, I should have said 'drive around', silly me) in very dangerous machines which are capable of killing anyone they come into contact with at almost any speed if not stopped in time. This group of road users are all the road users who drive powered vehicles. This group are also a major cause of pollution and illness (especially around the larger cities, such as London, where a huge proportion of people die every year from diseases linked to pollution and inactivity, but that's another matter, and one which the statistics for are easily enough found.

5a. "Not only do these cyclists posses no insurance..." UNTRUE - cycling insurance is available and many people do own it. For example, becoming a member of British Cycling, or the London Cycling Campaign costs relatively little and brings with it many millions of pounds worth of third party liability insurance.

5b. "...for their chosen 2 wheeled non mechanical death trap..." What? Non mechanical? What sort of engineering is used in making bicycles? Civil engineering? Nope. Structural Engineering? Nope. Well it's certainly not Marine Engineering. I'll make it simple for us: A bicycle is only made possible because of the existence of the science which has gone into Mechanical Engineering. Indeed, one can gain nationally recognised engineering qualifications in Cycle Mechanics: I have 3 of them (and a degree).

5c. The use of 'death trap' brings me to this: If you think it’s wrong for cyclists to ride two abreast, please reacquaint yourself with the highway code. Specifically rule 66 (handily copied here: “never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends”) so two abreast is acceptable on normal roads. Rule 67 is also a good one “look well ahead for obstructions in the road, such as drains, pot-holes and parked vehicles so that you do not have to swerve suddenly to avoid them. Leave plenty of room when passing parked vehicles and watch out for doors being opened or pedestrians stepping into your path.” This is additionally pointed out in the official TFL advice to cyclists “Stay central on narrow roads. Try to ride away from the gutter. If the road is too narrow for vehicles to pass you safely, it might be safer to ride towards the middle of the lane to prevent dangerous overtaking by other vehicles”.

5d. "...neither do they pay road tax." Again UNTRUE: Drivers pay no road tax either. Indeed, Road Tax was abolished back in 1937 and replaced by Vehicle Excise Duty, and this is now based on engine size and emissions. Also, it is a tax on motorised vehicles, not roads and is paid straight into the general Treasury fund. Furthermore, whilst a bicycle neither has a motorised engine nor gives any emissions the whole Vehicle Excise Duty regime would have to rethought if we wanted to tax bicycle ownership. However, this alone does not explain why it is untrue to say why cyclists do not pay road tax (even though it does not exist): the maintenance of the roads is paid for by all tax payers, not just motorists. Council and income and corporation tax and all other forms of tax all go towards the fund which pays for the roads. All of us. And whilst most cyclists also own a car, it would be fair to say that most cyclists also pay Vehicle Excise Duty (not road tax - there is no such thing).

6. If your argument is about cyclists riding badly - well, yes you’re right, some do. Just like some drivers drive badly, just some of them. Unfortunately, a bad cyclist might slightly damage a car or get themselves killed. A bad car driver will kill other people, specifically vulnerable road users, like cyclists. The crux of this is simple - drivers, motorcyclists and cyclists all have a right to use the road safely. Those that do not adhere to the rules and those that drive or ride unsafely should be brought to task.

Today: Mike is counting on you

Mike Beasant needs your help with “Theresa May MP: Petition to block Owen McDermott's poorly informed petition.”. Join Mike and 4,139 supporters today.