Are cars too important for our economy?


London, UK
Car sales and car use bring in a lot of money to the economy, far more than bike sales and bike use.

One can argue that cycling will reduce the likelihood of costing the NHS but we can't say that drivers do not visit the gym and thus will also cost the NHS less.

Buying a car being in more tax revenue in terms of sales tax, fuel taxes, road tax, and a whole host of other fees (insurance for example). Then you have the parts suppliers and servicing centres which keep more people employed whose taxed salaries also contribute to the economy. Then there's the requirement for increased road infrastructure and maintenance which also bring in money and keep more people employed.

I doubt politicians are quite smart enough to understand the figures in detail so they see the main points in the sense that one £20k car brings in £4k tax, uses on average £2k petrol, needs servicing annually and so on.

In real terms, what does cycling really give the economy compared to cars?


Car crashes are vital for the economy.


Heavy Metal Fan
Yes I think they are. Public transport and walking/cycling is not going to persuade the masses to give up their car. It needs to improve 10-fold in some areas. If for example there was no VED, and only 20% tax on fuel, the losses for the Gov would be huge. And that money would not be there to spend on alternatives like cycle infrastructure and more buses. This is the reason I think the Gov don't want to reduce cars, they just want to reduce emissions.

Things need to be done now, early on, in schools, to educate people about living life differently. It's not enough to say "cycling is good for you". They need to be aiming for "cycle instead of owning a car. Break the mould. get your shopping locally in small chunks. Use public transport for longer journeys. Don't rely on a car."


Legendary Member
You're right @mustang1 motoring and its associated coasts are an important 'money-go-round' in the economy. I was thinking this only recently when considering the thousands of km of roads that are built/maintained across the country.


Legendary Member
Do we need cars, afraid so
I'm inclined to agree, in that we need cars currently.

Personally, I feel any policies designed to reduce our car usage (and that has to happen IMHO) must also address the reasons we need cars. Not just ensuring that there are decent local transport services available but that also there is greater provision of local services and jobs.

People are currently getting in their cars because they have to (not in all cases for sure, there is certainly trivial usage, but in many cases) Address those reasons and you will reduce car usage.


Legendary Member
In thousands of years when extra-terrestrial geologists are sifting through the remains of our short tenure of the planet I reckon they will classify the approach of Armageddon by three events:

The fossil fuel age.

The plastic age.

The cell phone age.

Maybe they will add the cocaine age and the final straw, the virus that wipes us all out.


Totally agree with what you say @mustang1.
Sadly we and our economy have embraced the car culture over the many decades, and if and when it stops the world economy will take a big hit. The car and its industry generates a huge turn over. The sad fact, is that we've become so dependant on cars, we've now backed ourselves into a corner and changing our habits overnight will hit our economy like a ton of bricks.

dave r

Dunking Diddy Dave Pedalling Pensioner
Things are too spread out for people to ditch their cars, we need more of the places people go to moved more local to people then we need a big shift in attitude so people will stop using their cars so much.


I'm always sceptical of claims that XX is good for the economy because we spend so much money on it. Money is fungible, so if we spend less on XX then we spend more on YY and ZZ - the net effect to the economy is surely zero?

Same when retailers say that christmas provides so many tens of billions of pounds of boost to the economy - what they really mean is that they provide tens of billions to their companies. Not the same thing really.


Legendary Member
In real terms, what does cycling really give the economy compared to cars?
Cycling gives very little in financial terms but demands a great deal less than private car usage.
Many cars are exempt from VED and road fuel tax has been pegged for years regardless of the fact that costs of roads infrastructure are rising all the time. Vast areas of land which could be earning revenue if occupied by business are buried under roads, roundabouts , bridges etc..
Top Bottom