Something you hear a lot as a cyclist is that cyclists either shouldn’t be on the road as we don’t pay road tax, or that we should pay road tax if we are on the road.
The UK budget for roads in 2018 was £4.8bn [ref] road tax raised over £6bn [ref]. Road tax goes into central taxation and is used to fund “stuff” in the UK. Road maintenance comes from central taxation, so, any tax you pay in the UK (e.g. income tax, or VAT on the bikes you buy) could be paying for the roads, education or war…
What is commonly referred to as Road Tax is actually called Vehicle Excise Duty, a tax for using a vehicle in public roads. For vehicles registered after 2001, it switched to being based on emissions and focused on making it cheaper to run more environmentally friendly forms of transport.
A bike emits 0 harmful emissions. So it’s free to ride on public roads.
There’s a range of things with engines that are exempt here and here is a list of new cars that pay £0 for their Road Tax. There’s a wider range of cars from 2001-2017 that fell into the £0 road tax bracket, so own a Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDI CR 110PS Greenline estate for example? Road tax is free.
So, cyclists have paid income tax, have paid VAT on their bike and kit and probably have at least one car that they may have had to pay some level of VED on, and have funded the roads just as much as you and are putting much less wear on them on their bikes than you are in your huge car.