posted 3 years ago

Why don't cyclists drive instead?

“Do you have a driving licence?”

"Do you have a driving licence?" The driver of the Fiat Punto had taken exception to the fact I had been in front of him at traffic lights, on a bicycle. When he overtook me he asked why I'd blocked him at the lights, and then came out with the driving licence question. We didn't get into a long conversation (ironically, by slowing to berate me he was blocking all the cars behind him) but, wild stab in the dark here, he probably assumed that my sole means of transport is my bicycle and that a cyclist couldn't possibly be a motorist as well.


Cyclists get this barb thrown at them a lot. It's a wide-of-the-mark assumption. According to the National Travel Survey, 83 percent of cyclists own cars, which is a percentage point higher than the number of non-cyclists who own cars. That's worth restating: an adult cyclist is more likely to own a motor vehicle than the average person in the street.


Many of the people seen on bikes in this country are not doing so out of economic necessity or out of some inability to pass a driving test, they're riding bicycles because they enjoy it, either recreationally or for day-to-day transport, or often both.


When was the last time you deliberately took the long and tortuous way home from work just to enjoy the drive? Cyclists – like those who run or walk to work – often add scenic loops for the sheer pleasure of travelling under one's own steam. Back at home their depreciating cars are parked up, going nowhere much of the time. These parked cars are ready for long journeys, or picking up granny and the kids, or collecting five bags of compost from the garden centre. Just because somebody is on a bike doesn't mean that's their only available transport option.


Edmund King, president of the AA, often likes to point out that the "two tribes" mentality is corrosive. He cycles and he drives: “Because I work for the UK's leading motoring organisation, some people assume I must drive everywhere. I don't. Like many other drivers, I weigh up the options and take the best mode of transport for a particular journey." Sir Chris Hoy has retired from cycling and taken to racing a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 but he still also cycles around his home city of Edinburgh, on errands no longer for Olympic training. Cyclists and motorists are not from different planets. “Them and us,” in reality, doesn't exist.




Carlton Reid is the executive editor of He drives a Nissan Note "but not very often." He's writing a history book on motoring's cycling beginnings, Roads Were Not Built For Cars.


I think cyclists and bl#*dy pedestrians should just buy cars like everyone else! Why should I be the only one supporting economic growth through the cost of petrol, maintenance and insurance on my urban SUV battle tank? Pedestrians & cyclists aren't helping the economy by getting around for free!

to chris green. I followed a ten car Que with a double decker bus at the front. for 2 miles from braunton to ilfracombe i thought the bus had problems and was not happy when passing places it could have pulled in. only to find the hold up was caused by three irresponsible bike riders taking it in turn to go two abreast. are you going to tell me the waste of fuel and extra emissions where not caused by the bikers

First and foremost I'm a cyclist, I ride about 80 to 100 miles a week because it is a very pleasurable means of transport. But I'm also a car driver and a car enthusiast with a 5 litre Cobra and a MGB powered Morris Traveller. My wife runs a Porsche Cayenne so I'm hardy concerned with the green issue either. I just love going fast on my bike and going fast in my cars so when you come up to a cyclist just have a think for a moment, this guy or girl could in fact be way more than a petrolhead than you.

Quore : I guess it's predictable that an article about cycling on a motoring web-site will bring out all the usual 'ride on pavements, go through red lights' stuff that gets churned every time by bigots. That's because they do, some cyclists are a danger to the public, and certainly are on my local canal tow-path, while so called responsible bike clubs cycle in a bunch on purpose to slow down traffic when the highway code to which they are also bound says they must ride in single file, and only two by two where safe to do so. It is hight time that the law makes every cyclist using public roads to have some sort of endorsable licence and insurance, and it should be an offence to ride with earphones plugged into the ears, in my view it is as serious as texting while driving.

The Road Fund was a British Government fund designated to pay for the building and maintenance of the United Kingdom road network. Its income came originally from vehicle excise duty, until that ceased to be hypothecated for roads use in 1936, and then from government grants. It was created by the Roads Act 1920 and Finance Act 1920, and was wound up in Miscellaneous Financial Provisions Act of 1955. The Road Fund is notable as one of the few beneficiaries of hypothecated taxation in British history, and is the root of a popular misconception that vehicle excise duty (especially when referred to as road tax) is still hypothecated. Between 1920 and 1936 the vehicle licence (tax disc) was officially known as the "Road Fund Licence", a term which is still in colloquial use today. If the above was still applicable then no vehicle would be exempt and all road using vehicles would be subject to a charge for road upkeep. It is because that we are brainwashed into the effects of greenhouse gas, and emissions fouling the atmosphere. Simple if you use the road pay a tax. If you put peoples life at risk whilst using the road have insurance. I ask if a car or similar injures a cyclist the cyclist will claim compensation from the vehicle owners insurance. If a cyclist injures a pedestrian or causes damage to another vehicle who does this person/owner claim against. In life everything should be equal unfortunately it is not. All should be responsible for their actions pedestrian, cyclist, car driver, van driver, HGV driver, Bus driver and of course foreign visitors.

If that many cyclists have a licence, why do most ride like they have never seen a highway code?

Let's not choke about cycle accidents. A friend's Son was killed in Wolverhampton town centre by a cyclist. Speed has no rules. Except Law's of physic's.

Doug Hall - Why should cyclists pay road tax when they ride a zero emissions vehicle? The owners of low emission cars don't pay any either. I guess it's predictable that an article about cycling on a motoring web-site will bring out all the usual 'ride on pavements, go through red lights' stuff that gets churned every time by bigots. Car drivers never run red lights do they? I know which one I'd rather collide with and it's not the 1.5 tons doing 40 mph. BTW, I drive about 12,000 miles a year and ride about 4,000.

As a driver and a cyclist, I cycle 6 miles each way to my work as a nurse, only using my vehicle for carrying heavy shopping or when I am with my elderly uncle, who I care for. I cycle in all weathers and try to use cycle paths where available; unfortunately they are rarely gritted in the winter, making them very dangerous when it is icy, when they can be more like an ice rink. At these times it is often safer to use the roads, but I have been hooted at by drivers who presumably prefer me to risk my life skidding on the cycle paths, or maybe add to the congested roads by driving instead!

Funny, last time I checked the Highway Code - essential reading for any road user, which includes Motorist, Cyclists and Pedestrians - Rule 64 (in the section headed "rules for cyclists" clearly states "You *MUST NOT* cycle on a pavement" and gives the relevant laws: The Highways Act 1835 (yes, 1835 - enacted 179 [one hundred and seventy nine] years ago) sect 72 and Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 sect 129. With regard to Cycle tracks: the only legislation I can see is regards to who _may not_ use them, not to who /must/ use them. Also, as long as they are sensible I will use them: The bits of cycle lanes along Martin Way in South West London are extremely dangerous and I refuse to use them: for example, they all end in a give way and one in particular only had a paint separation from the road designated for all traffic in the entry to a chicane which means that I am supposed to stop and give way if a vehicle uses the road; except that the separator is painted and not a raised barrier as I guess there is not enough room for a large vehicle to get through so I am being required to stop and let a bus, say, go past me where there is no space for the bus to get through! One of the chicane where I was forced to deviate by a small artic overtaking me (meaning the driver actually committed an offence) to preserve my life has since been removed. If people want cyclists to use cycle tracks/lanes then the planners need to make sure they create a safer passage.

Question:- List the number of moving traffic offences applicable to a car, van, lorry or bus and the fines involved and points received against the number of cyclists who commit similar offences and do not get punished, I have no doubt in assuming that motorised vehicle drivers face daily far more chances of being caught and penalised. If a cyclists were to be fined for all the offences they commit similar to say a car driver and this resulted in them loosing licence facing increased insurance costs and being banned from using a cycle would they commit the offences? They should also remember that a driver can be cautioned for driving slow and impeding the flow of traffic. They should remember that footpaths whether they be in a town, village or parkland are for walking or jogging and are used by all ages of people old and young alike and they should not be used as a cycle ways this is a dangerous practice and should have a fixed penalty. If we a act with common sense and respect each other we can all get on. It is not a question of them and us it is us all abiding by the laws which are there for a purpose and makes no difference to the authorities whether we are car driver riding a cycle or a cyclist driving a car if you break the law, put another road user in jeopardy then you must be prepared to face and suffer the consequences

I don't have anything against them as long as they observe/complied with the law. They should at least have some sort of number plate and Insurance so when they decide to damage other road users or break the law they can be traced and face the law. They are free to cycle on foot path and ignore cycle tracks which the tax payer has paid for. They are danger to themselves of their own choice and if you try to point this out them they are ready for fight/readily use foul language.

I have a car, motorcycle and bicycle, I'm still me regardless of what I use and obey the rules in one as I do them all. It's never Them, or they Lot, I'm Me.

In the past few years I have ridden cycles, motorbikes and driven cars and large vans ,and have carried insurance for all of them,(including cycles)I also followed the highway code on all of them. Was I the only cyclist to do so? if not I was a very rare beast.

I have nothing against cyclists as I too ride a bike when not using my car or my work van. However, what does annoy me is when cyclists ignore the rules of the road, ignore traffic lights and ride two, or three abreast. There is a code for cyclists using the roads and they should observe the rules. It is for there safety. I was making a right turn at a traffic light controlled junction the other day the green light was in my favour when between a car in front of me and my van a Cyclist road across my path against a red light in his direction. Being hit my a 2.5 ton van would not be very pretty. In short he had a death wish!

Bicycles are a old fashioned outmoded form of transport, a relic from days when the roads were a lot quieter than they are today. Although frequently the design does change to attempt to keep them fashionable and encourage sales they have no place on todays busy roads. If people wish to ride these things they should do so off road, cycle ways or velodromes for example. Those that ride them on main roads must have a death wish.

I have been a keen cyclist in my younger days and still appreciate the delights thereof but I do wish that groups of cyclists (usually in local time trials it seems)would thin out when a car approaches to allow said car to pass safely and not have to wait for several minutes before space is available to pass safely.Upon occasion the riders would be three abreast and will not concede. That can be an annoying when one is endeavouring to pass. As a cyclist we had an unwritten rule that one would slip back into single file when traffic was behind thus leaving the road clear and safe for overtaking. Simple, quick and avoiding any conflict.

Whether one drives or not is not the issue. It is not unreasonable to ask that cyclists pay road tax and take out fully comprehensive insurance. Oh, it would be really good if they complied with the law. I have been injured by a cyclist (full Lycra, helmet, nice bike) going the wrong way at speed down a one way street but, of course, it was perfectly ok because he was on the pavement! There are cyclists that comply with road traffic legislation but a great percentage including "serious" cyclists do not.

I have been driving HGVs since 1964,Europe and Middle East,have now retired at the age of 71,my last job going from Croydon to Earls Court in the rush hour,stopping at the lights before the bridge I would get a cyclist holding on to the front of the cab,would be unseen if I did not have a mirror on my front screen looking down,other cyclist holding on to the rear of the lorry,one morning I went to pull away the cyclist holding on to the front of the cab fell of his bike,I got out and spoke to this well educated idiot,he worked in IT which meant he had no common sence,you learn that when you are a child,to late, later on in life.

I have a car (we have two) but I prefer to use the bike for getting about including going to work as it gives me a chance to be more active and healthier. I find it's more predictable. I can time my cycling commute within a minute or two. In the car can be randomly twice as quick or slower than the bike. Usually only a few minutes quicker if any by the time you mess with parking and walking to where you want to go. Important point is that my choice of transport should not attract abuse or attempts to injure or kill me JUST because it is different to someone elses.

Suick of hearing cyclists telling us about how healthy cycling is and better for the atmosphere. Rubbish! You increase you r oxygen intake and increase the CO2 you emit! You require more fuel, which means more food, which means lorry's to deliver it! You slow all other traffic which increases their emissions! I don't mind someone cycling to work etc because they can't afford another option, but I detest these lycra clad morons slowing up the traffic every Sunday, it should be legal to run them down when they are riding 2 (or more) abreast!

I drive, cycle and ride a motorbike, and enjoy a good walk from time to time. I have noticed very sharp disparities between areas. Where I live and work (posho suburbs of SW London) consideration seems to be the norm. When I lived and commuted through rougher bits of NW London, less so. Central London terrifies me, but last year I cycled from Edinburgh to London in 5 days and found most people to be extremely considerate and safe. I choose to cycle for many of the reasons cited in the article, and also for the predictability mentioned by a previous commenter. However, it actually saddens me is that cyclists are more likely to own a car than everyone else. Surely cycling should be hugely attractive to non-drivers (young and poor people). The question we should be asking isn't 'why don't cyclists drive instead?', but 'why don't more bus-users cycle instead?' Cycling is cheaper and quicker and (should be) infinitely nicer than public transport, but people are frightened off the roads. Space for Cycling for everyone!

Well gary alcock the cyclists would be getting a rebate. The health benefits of cycling massively outweigh the dangers. Perhaps what you meant was drivers should pay extra contribution to NHS for the damage caused by pollution, crash injuries and care for obesity related diseases.

I am a cyclist a driver and a motorcyclist and whatever transport I use I use the Highway Code - I would not risk my life or want to mess others up by jumping a redlight and I am infuriated when I see another cyclists or car driver do so - invariably I can catch the cyclist up down the road and I make sure I voice my anger at did blatant disregard for the road rules and as well the fact that they give cyclists like me who do obey the rules a bad name Pedestrians should also consider the rules of lights when a cyclist is approaching and stay on the pavement until the traffic is stopped when the lights are red and their pedestrian light is green

As usual I see subjective views given on this topic. I suggest both motorists and cyclists read the highway code and obey the rules, then we would see a much improved situation and far more considerate driving and cycling.

My only problem with cyclist is when they don't obey the rules. Red means STOP. There's been a couple of occasions where cyclist have come flying out of minor roads onto major and then give me verbal for almost hitting them. Conviently forgetting I had right away. Although same goes for other drivers. I think it should also be a case of cyclists think car. From what I see everyday it's 50/50 in both regards.

Simon T, I don't know why cycling 2 abreast should p!ss drivers off, unless of course they feel that they should squeeze past said cyclists if they were in a single line, whihc is dangerous. As a driver, keen cyclist and motor cyclist I would always give a cyclist (whether cycing two abreast or not) the whole width of their side of the road while overtaking. The drivers behind can be p!ssed off with me if they like, while I wait for an opportunity to overtake the cyclist, but it's the safe thing to do. I agreed with another comment on here which made the point that it's a lot to do with the poor infrastructure which gives rise to so much frustration. The small, narrow roads are just not cyclist friendly and therein lies the problem.

Cyclists are a law unto theirselves , they break every known law on the roads, yet never get prosecuted . They Should by law have a road tax, ( after all we the drivers, pay for all their new cycle paths ) should have comp insurance, an MOT every September with invoiced lights, And be forced to wear flu helmet or vest or rucksack, and if they don't comply TOUGH, car drivers should get off scot free if they are in a cycle accident ,or Scrape. Saying that. - Only 68 out of every 100 Are Twats

I find it disconcerting that drivers are so anti cyclists and so sure we don't pay towards the upkeep of the roads. With regard to 'blocking' drivers at the lights the occasions this occurs is when the driver has decided he can stop in the cycle box which is there to ensure cyclists get away safely from the lights without obstructing drivers and in particular those looking to turn a corner at the junction. For those who think road tax is what pays for the upkeep of roads you have got your information wrong - the upkeep of the toads is the responsibility of The Highways Department which is funded by the council and so anyone who pays council tax in fact contributes to roads and pavement upkeep Also, the tax vehicle owners pay is emissions tax and is based on the engine size and exhaust emissions - not applicable for cycles I think!! You'll find most cyclists have insurance for their own safety and to ensure the cost of a replacement bike is there should a driver or a pedestrian stepping off the pavement without looking, cause an accident. Most of all I just don't understand why people dislike other peoples choice of travel so much that they'd want to abuse or force them off the road driving dangerously - it's very sad

i have 3 types of transport,car,motorbike & push bike,i hate push bike riders thay seem to only ride on a week end,most of the rider are in over weight gangs with yellow tops on (they look silly),ride 3 or 4 across the road which is against the law,they block roads so you have to pass on the other side of the road which can cause an accident,if i knock one of the riders off i bet i would be blamed,push bike riders should pass a test,have ins, an mot on the bike & pay a road tax @ least this way they may act a little more responsable if they can be fined or banned off the road as other road users can

Yeah, but why did you block him at the lights?!

At 52, cycled and driven nice cars for a long time, without to much hassle. Knocked off twice last year, both fault of young drivers, still off work with broken collar bone, repaired with piece of my hip! Drivers need more education re 'think bike', (pedal & motor) with regard to blind spots. Come on fellow cyclists, two abreast just P***** people off, Inc me! hip!

am I right in saying "neither were footpaths built for cyclists" ? nothing against cyclists but where I live they use the footpaths whenever the mood takes them

I think it is broader than this - for some reason we all feel the need to criticise people who do not drive as we do - whether on bike or in a car - we even criticise pedestrians!

Up in the Lake district recently we found we could not park anywhere in the countryside, every layby was taken by a car with empty bicycle racks, these people hog all the parking spaces not for an hour or so but all day, they ride 2 abreast on narrow lanes and refuse to move over for cars passing. selfish idiots is all I can add.

All this cock and bull about cycling all cyclist should pay an insurance fee to help pay towards the NHS after all its them who gets injured or killed.

I drive a top Merc. I cycle even more miles on a top bike. Too many obese donkeys ONLY drive for the most trivial of journeys. In the process they pollute the environment, damage the tarmac and clog the highways for those who do need to motor. They then have the nerve to complain that cyclists should pay the misnomer 'Road Tax'. In actual fact, there should be a REDUCTION in Car Licence Fee for those motorists who choose to cycle as we are already paying our dues.

I Cycle and drive, cycle 8 miles each way to work couple of times a week, a few pleasure journeys too, my town is difficult for drivers and cyclists, colchester, old infrastructure and bottlenecks, do feel them and us, quite anti car when cycling, bikes annoy me when i am driving, ironic i know, the infrastucture is the problem, feel life at risk when cycling and cars don't consider us at all, pet hate, overtake me with q in front then slam brakes on, i do take red lights if safe to do so, mainly on momentum, also, if i stop i hold cars up for longer and additional danger as most lights have pedestrian islands it narrows as u restart peddling, brilliant!

I will be 70 this year and I, like Brian Robinson who is 82 are still riding a Bike. I was nearly knocked off yesterday because a driver only looked one way, oops.

I live in the SW London suburbs. I cycle as my main means of transport in the area because it is so much quicker than by car. Also, I don't pay 'road tax' (it was abolished in the 1930s, I believe) and I don't pay the modern VED either, since both my bicycle and my car come in below the threshold at which is is due.

When I'm driving I try to consider the cyclists point of view, and when cycling do the opposite. It's just a case of being courteous. I must admit I see more poor driving decisions than cycling when out and about. Drivers jump red lights too.

As very much a driver, and definately not a cyclist. I do acknowledge that there are far more dickhead drivers than cyclist, and I would like to apologise to cyclists for any accidental discourtesy minover I may have made. But I really can't get my head round these cyclist who run through red lights. Just for the record I do take occasional detours just for the fun of it when driving and not always because I am lost.

As car-owning cyclists, we also pay our share of road tax too!

Another reason: predictability. If I ride to work it takes an hour, plus our minus five minutes. I can drive it in only twenty minutes sometimes, but more often it's thirty or forty and the journey may take as much as an hour and twenty minutes - you just don't know.

If all the people riding their bicycles got in their cars and drove instead there would be a traffic gridlock. When a motorist encounters a cyclist he should really be thinking "Oh thank goodness there's another car that's not on the roads allowing ME more space".

Jon W: I couldn't agree more. You put into words my sentiments exactly! My new panniers arrive any day now...I'm already thinking how many MORE of my errands I will be able to perform by cycle!!

What really skews the figure is that well over 83% of cyclists have a driving licence but don't own a car. I've not owned a car for 38 years, but that hasn't stopped me driving, often better and newer cars than those who offer the criticism that cyclists don't drive. After all If I was to mention the RAC Foundation, it is worth noting that the average private car sits idle for 96% of the time and frankly for most people owning a car is the daftest thing they could spend their money on.

What's also interesting about riding a bike as a mode of transport is that you start to realise it's better in all sorts of areas. You begin by simply riding to work and back to get a few extra miles in, next you think about going shopping and what a joyful experience that is. Lock the bike up outside the shop, buy your items. No queuing, no car park charges, no hassle. Next you decide going to the tip is possible on the bike so with panniers fully laden with empties, off you go. The list continues and the car spends longer and longer sat in front of the house, not moving. At some point you wonder if the car is necessary at all, certainly in a two car family.