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Friday, 18 November 2011

Griff & Ray say; Join the bicycle revolution!

We have a bit of a novelty for you on The Streetlamp tonight in the shape of a joint blog by both Griff and Ray. Keen readers will recognise this duo as the lycra-clad cycle warriors of The Streetlamp revolutionary army (see 'here'). You know those cyclists who smugly scoot past the endless line of stationary traffic and who like to continually evangelise about their healthy and sustainable mode of transport? Well that's us!

So, tonight we wanted to tell you about the clever and energetic UK cycling campaign and use that as an excuse to point you in the direction of some lovely, free, cycling-related music.

Let's start with the lowdown on This is the brainchild of Carlton Reid, a cycling journalist and author who, like every cyclist in the country, has heard more than once that familiar motorists' refrain: "You don't pay road tax – why are you on the roads?"
Unlike most of us, however, Carlton didn't limit his response to a bellowed, "Fuck you, dickhead!" or rude gesture but decided to set up a web campaign to educate cyclists and motorists alike to the truth of the matter. So, what is the truth? Read this from the site:

"Road tax was abolished 74 years ago. Road tax doesn't exist. Vehicle owners pay Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), which is a tax on the vehicle, not a pot for collecting monies to be spent on road building or road maintenance. The distinction between ‘road tax’ and VED is very important, much more important than most people think. It’s possible that lives have been lost because of the use of an antique phrase. Some motorists believe ‘road tax’ pays for roads so cyclists, as freeloaders at best, tax-dodgers at worst, shouldn’t really be on “their” roads at all. This sometimes leads to ugly and dangerous aggression against cyclists, with some motorists taking the ownership of the roads fallacy a little too literally.

Many motorists – perhaps even the majority? – still believe that ‘road tax’ exists, and demand that the duties paid by motorists should be ploughed into fixing potholes, widening dual carriageways and adding to the UK’s motorway network. In reality, everybody pays for Britain’s roads via general taxation.

Motorists do not pay for use of the roads, motorists are taxed on buying and using their vehicles. VED is not a tax on roads, it’s now a tax on emissions: cars which spew the most CO2 pay the most Vehicle Excise Duty. Cars which spew less CO2, pay less VED. Cars in VED band A pay zero duty. VED is based on amount of CO2 emitted so, if a fee had to be paid, cyclists would pay £0."

Seems pretty clear, right? Well, unfortunately, as both of us, along with all Britain's other cyclists can testify, not simple enough for the average UK motorist to understand. Have a look at this video by one of Ray's heroes; well-known, Glasgow-based cyclist Magnatom, who films his daily commute to work on his 'helmetcam' and posts any incidents on his Youtube page. In the video below, a woman motorist, who has been sitting in bumper-to-bumper congestion, is seen to tell him, in a rather rude fashion, “Go and pay some road tax, you’re holding everyone up!”

Unbelievable, right? Well it happens every day, as any cyclist will tell you.
So, what can we do about it? Easy, just spread the word about the ironically-named site or, if you're feeling flush, helps spread the message by purchasing one of their eye-catching, sloganeering cycle jerseys.

Now, for some music. Ray has made a couple of videos for two acts that Griff selected as representative of The Streetlamp's musical spectrum; one with a mellow, acoustic, folky vibe and one with an upbeat, boisterous, poppy vibe. Both songs are available as free downloads too.

The first song is Lets Ride Our Bikes!! by Feel It Robot who, sadly, seem to be no longer with us but who specialised in slightly subversive electro-pop songs about robots and cycling, some of which are still available as free downloads on their page.

The next song is The Bicycle Song by David Rovics. This rather fine chap is an indie singer/songwriter and grassroots political protestor from the United States. Like us, he is also fond of his bike. His music is most accurately described as protest-folk and concerns topical subjects such as anti-globalisation and social justice issues. Some of these can be freely downloaded from his page and many, many more are available on his own site.

Keep cycling!

Griff and Ray

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