In the same month that British Cycling called for the UK government to give cyclists tax breaks for commuting by bike, a petition is canvassing for riders to pay insurance.
British Cycling’s policy advisor – Chris Boardman, and Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey said last week that the UK government should give tax breaks to commuters and businesses' encouraging cycling.
The proposals for tax breaks were put together by one of the country’s top tax experts - Jolyon Maugham QC - commissioned on behalf of the #ChooseCyclingBusinessNetwork.
Proposals include £250 for individuals who cycle to work, plus £100,000 for businesses’ that invest in cycling, and an expansion of the Cycle to Work scheme to benefit self-employed people.
British Cycling’s policy adviser, Chris Boardman, supported the suggestions commenting: “If more people cycled to work regularly the government would save millions on squeezed NHS budgets and our roads would be much less congested. That in itself would more than pay for a £250 tax break and would provide a real incentive for people to live more active lives."
As well as saving the NHS money, stats from Cyclescheme.co.uk state that £83 million is saved annually by cycle commuters taking one day less off sick each year and that 44,000 tonnes of CO2 would be saved each week if all 5 mile commutes in England were made by bike.
Dame Sarah Storey commented on the tax break suggestions, saying: “Britain’s businesses have woken up to the benefits that cycling can bring to their employees and it’s about time that the government followed suit. It’s only right that if a company invests heavily in providing high quality changing and bike storage facilities – things that will help our nation become healthier and fitter – that they should get a tax incentive for it."
Whilst tax experts make suggestions to help cycling become more enticing, one man has persuaded over 35,000 people to sign a petition calling for cyclists to have insurance.
Owen McDermott began his petition as a direct response to the West Midlands attempts to enforce the law which states that drivers must give cyclists 1.5 metres room when passing. McDermott was incensed by this reckless enforcing of the law and began his change.org petition.
The petition title reads ‘cyclists to hold insurance to use public UK roads’, but clicking ‘read letter’ (and the original URL) reveals the request for ‘cyclists to hold insurance and pay road tax to use UK public roads’.
The petition doesn’t appear to acknowledge the fact that the roads are paid for by all tax payers. Drivers then pay tax on emissions, based on their vehicle type and bicycles do not produce emissions.
The petition also doesn't make any acknowledgment of the fact that 80 per cent of cyclists also hold a driving license, according to the Department for Transport.
Elaborating on his goals, McDermott commented: “The public roads used by motor vehicles are becoming unsafe to use due to one particular community that feel they are eligible to cycle on public UK roads."
He added: “Insurance, if a cyclist throws him/herself into the back of a stationary motor vehicle... Who's to blame? Not the cyclist... The driver of the motor vehicle would have to pay their own excess to repair the damages. I’m not sure on the percentage of how many cyclists die every year due to cycling on the road but if you stick them back on the path in a cycle lane I'm sure a lot more people will survive."
Hopefully when making decisions about the future for cyclists, the UK government will listed to the tax experts and the National governing body.