OPINION: It’s time to tax those inconsiderate cyclists

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WHAT has two legs, two wheels and is completely oblivious to everything and everyone?

The answer: A cyclist!

So you can imagine my delight when the head of one of London’s largest minicab companies said recently that cyclists should have to pay some form of road tax. I totally agree. The head of Addison Lee minicabs, Mr John Griffin claims cyclists need to think more about their own safety before throwing themselves onto “some of the most congested spaces in the world”.

And Mr Griffin and I are not alone, as a survey by insurance comparison website Confused.com has revealed 25% of drivers believe that not only should cyclists contribute to the cost of maintaining roads, but should display number plates and even pass a cycling test. To me that makes sense and would make the situation a whole lot safer for everyone.

As I see it, too many cyclists strap on their helmets, hop onto their bikes and set off pedalling with their heads down with little regard for traffic on the road. They are disdainful of motorists who drive around in gas guzzling air polluting tanks ... and it shows. Quite often cyclists make up their own rules as they go along, ignoring traffic lights and “no cycling” signs.

But for me it is the downright dangerous things some cyclists do that make me so angry. For instance, a couple of weeks ago, on the outskirts of Clitheroe town centre, I witnessed a gentleman who was 65-plus riding a bike with one hand while holding the lead of his dog with the other!

And, at the weekend, I had to slow to snail’s pace on a main road while two cyclists rode side by side chatting merrily away as though they were in their local having a pint! I wanted to honk the horn, but didn’t as I am aware that would have been just a dangerous as what they were doing.

And then there was the chap wobbling along on his bike, again on a busy main road, and he veered into the centre of the carriageway without any warning as he wanted to turn right. Motorists sometimes have to play the guessing game with cyclists, trying to predict their next move!

What it boils down to is the fact that motorists have to be responsible for the safety of cyclists. Car drivers are in a protected space with impact bars and airbags, but we also pay large amounts of taxes on vehicle purchases, parking, servicing, insurance and road tax. Cyclists have little protection save a plastic helmet. And while I am being criticial of cyclists they are so vulnerable on the roads today, especially around inexperienced drivers or simply someone who has a lapse in concentration. You need a licence to drive a car, so why not a bike too?

As John Griffin has said, the time has come to say to cyclists: “If you want to join our gang get trained and pay up.”