40% of bikers don’t pay road tax

The BBC is reporting that 4 in 10 motorcyclists are evading road tax:

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency risks becoming “a complete laughing stock” after it emerged nearly 40% of motorbikes were untaxed, MPs have said.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee urged the DVLA and Department for Transport to “strongly consider” tougher measures to tackle evasion. Chairman Edward Leigh said the DVLA’s efforts to deal with it were “poor”. His committee said the agency should consider impounding untaxed motorbikes and imposing penalty points on tax-dodgers.

The BBC quoted Commons Public Accounts Committee Charman Edward Leigh as saying: “Motorcyclists who refuse to pay road tax are stealing from law-abiding taxpayers”.

This is not true. Road Tax for motorbikes is between £15 and £64 a year. However, since the amount of damage a vehicle does to the road is proportional to the fourth power of the wheel loading, bikes do very little damage to the road — most is done by lorries and cars. So bikes are subsidising larger vehicles. Bikes also do not cause congestion, because they can be ridden between traffic lanes. So every person who goes from being a car driver to a motorcyclist is actually helping other road users, by reducing congestion and therefore the other road users average journey times. Because motorbikes use little fuel, they also help to reduce carbon emissions and other forms of pollution.

So bikers are good for congestion, good for the environment, good for reducing the UK’s dependence on imported fuel, good for reducing pollution, and are subsidising the cost of repearing the wear and tear other road users do to the roads. There are not “stealing” from other road users, in fact quite the opposite they are making them better off.

Since bike use benefits society in so many ways it ought to be encouraged. One good start would be abolishing road tax for bikes.

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