Sharing the road

 

Sir, – As it is so often appended to an unrelated argument, I find it remarkable how frequently Denis O’Donoghue’s complaint that cyclists “do not pay road tax either” is raised by aggrieved motorists (“Drivers and overtaking cyclists”, Letters, November 14th).

Leaving aside the obvious response that many of those who cycle also have cars and therefore pay the same taxes as any motorist, in this country there is no such thing as a specific “road tax”.

There does exist of course a motor tax levied on private motor vehicles that serves two important purposes.

First, it helps to impose some of the cost of negative externalities of environmental harm caused by private motor vehicles on those who use them.

Second, it provides the State with revenue that can remedy the harm arising from this. This is why it is linked to engine size and efficiency.

The proceeds of this tax are not exclusively devoted to the construction or maintenance of roads, and paying motor tax is not a private subscription to a service on which others free-ride.

Roads are a public service that we all pay for.

While this does not excuse the poor behaviour of cyclists or others using the roads, the expectation from some motorists that complying with their legal obligation to pay motor tax entitles them to deference from others on the roads is becoming increasingly frustrating. – Yours, etc,

CHRISTOPHER

McMAHON,

Castleknock,

Dublin 15.

Sir, – In response to the eminently reasonable new laws regarding safe overtaking, the letters page is again full of motorists complaining about the assorted sins of cyclists.

Can we put to rest for good the empty old argument that cyclists “do not pay road tax”?

Ireland does not have a road tax. It has a motor tax, and I, like the majority of adult cyclists, pay it every year to permit me to operate a polluting vehicle which damages road surfaces.

Cyclists, as a lobby, want only one thing: the ability to engage in the very normal, everyday act of riding a bike without significant risk of serious injury or death.

While the overtaking laws are to be welcomed, we all know they will not be enforced.

What are required are dedicated cycle lanes in our urban areas and meaningful physical protections on regional roads.

Driving will be easier when this is implemented, our carbon expense will reduce, and the letters page can be freed up for more entertaining or profound content. – Yours, etc,

KEVIN

HARGADEN,

Inchicore,

Dublin 8.

Sir, – The law on overtaking cyclists will not pose many problems in Limerick as most of them cycle on the footpaths. – Yours, etc,

ALEC QUINN,

Limerick.