Bike/Car Bureaucracy

It really gets to me

Tax Disks, Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

Mandatory cash donation tickets for use of pleasure items - the tax disks

That I'm trying to be a law abiding citizen, but there are petty rules and regulations that prevent me from following the law. Why is it that the system in place is there to prevent us, rather than enable and help us? Strangely both of my recent incarnations of this problem involve vehicle tax.

Scenario one - The Scooter

My girlfriend and I share a Gilera Runner Scooter for commuting. We bought it fairly cheaply and we don't give it much love (we do keep it in good shape mechanically), and the main purpose for having the scooter is to lower the mileage on our more loved vehicles, such as our "proper bikes". I think it was around September when "everything" ran out on the Scooter; MOT, Insurance and Tax, all in one go, as we had purchased it about one year before.
Because we both work full time we don't really have time to run around with these "trivial" errands during office hours, luckily Caz can have short Friday's, so we deviced a cunning plan; Caz organises the insurance over the phone on Saturday morning, I go to the post office and tax the scooter during a lunch break, and finally she takes the Scooter for MOT on a Friday afternoon. Insurance is no problem; they'll gladly take our money! Then the next step was for me to go to the Post office with the insurance documents and the MOT certificate. All well, untill the woman behind the counter says that I don't have a valid MOT for when the Tax is about to start. WHAT?? In other words, I would have to MOT the Scooter before I can Tax it?! Ludicrous! Why this silly dependency? Why can't I Tax a vehicle that's without MOT? As far as I can see it, you need four documents to conduct a motorvehicle on the roads:

  • Drivers licence - this says that I'm physically capale of driving/riding and that I know the rules of the road
  • MOT certificate - this says that the vehicle is in an adequate state when it comes to pollution and safety (brakes, lights etc)
  • Insurance certificate - this piece of paper says I've given money to scum and that they're slightly likely to pay up should I run into someone with my lethal vehicle.
  • Tax certificate - this one says that I've paid for ruining the nature and wearing down the tarmac etc on the roads.

I cannot see why the last three ones need to be one unit?
This sillyness meant that, once we had gotten the scooter MOT'd, we should have left the Scooter at the MOT test center, and walked (or gotten a lift) to the Post Office to pay the Tax. We could then walk (or using the same lift) back to the Scooter, to apply the Tax disk to it - only at this point would the scooter have been completely legal to ride on the roads.
It's a waste of time and waste of resources to have this silly dependency.

Scenario two - My K1200R

BMW K1200R Motorcycle outside the motorcycle dealer., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

My BMW K1200R outside the dealer - untaxed.

Just the last weekend I part exchanged my R1200GS for a K1200R (i.e one bike for another one). As per usual the dealers rip the Tax disk off the bikes that come in so that they can save every penny. Fair enough to me. However, the problem is a bit worse when it comes to the bike I've just purchased... I arranged for my insurance to switch over to the K1200R at a specific hour, 10:30 on Saturday to be precise. I rang the insurance company up on Friday morning and, again, they were happy to take my money and arrange for the new bike to be covered. Excellent! As the new bike was only about 9 months old, it doesn't need an MOT, perfect! However Tax is a problem. As the mail isn't really fast enough to deliver the papers from one day to another, I didn't have the new insurance certificate with me into the bike dealer. Which puts me in a position where I can either leave my lovely bike in the garage and come and collect it once I've sorted out the paper work (waiting for the insurance papers and then going to tax it). This would probably take many working days. Even if it would only take two days, I still couldn't pick up the bike because I have to be in the office. Another option would have been to arrange a trailer of some sort (either begging a friend or hiring one) to transport the bike to my house. The third and illegal option was to ride the bike home and technically be a criminal. Just because of paperwork. I have no criminal intention to not pay. I'm happy to pay the bike tax.
What's really sad about illegal option three is the consequences of having an accident on an untaxed vehicle. If I had ridden my bike home and on that journey I would have hit a person and injure them for life, then my insurance (that I just paid for) would have been declared void. The conditions of the insurance is that everything else is in order, including the Road Tax.

This is a very sad point to me as I'm quite meticulous about my paperwork, and especially insurance.
As of writing this, my bike is now useless in the garage, and should I ride it, I'd be illegal. Simply because I've not recieved the insurance certificate and thus I can't tax it.
Another annoying thing with this scenario is that I can't even tax the bike online, as the paperwork hasn't gone through yet, meaning that I'm not yet the registered keeper of the bike, in turn meaning that the previous owner would recieve the tax disk. Dead end.
Luckily this is a vehicle that I use for pleasure and I don't need it to make a living - I am lucky enough to be able to ride the Scooter into work - but what if this would have been a vehicle that I needed to get to and from work?!? What would my options have been?

  1. Don't go to work; at best work from home, at worst "pull sickies".
  2. Try to arrange for someone else to drop me off and pick me up, maybe Caz, a colleague or someone who works near my work?
  3. Spend a very long time using public transport - I guess it would take me 1.5h each way on public transport - it takes me 25-30 minutes on the bikes.
  4. Hire a car, which would be very expensive.
  5. Be a criminal and ride the bike without tax...? This is sadly the most likely option.

Bonus Scenario Three - The GSX-R

Jocke's GSX-R1000 stopped for a moment just after crossing one of the many bridges in Denmark., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

Jocke's GSX-R1000 stopped for a moment just after crossing one of the many bridges in Denmark.

My first bike that I got in UK was the GSX-R1000, a lovely bike. The Road Tax issue here, was that I bought the bike new in Peterborough, and I rode it down to London, and then the next day to another bike dealer to fit an alarm, and then from there to tax the bike. I didn't know any better as the salesperson said to me "You better tax it quite soon". Where I come from you have a certain time to fix these bureaucratic issues, and I thought that it would only be fair if this was the case in the UK too. I was wrong. (If you're nitpicking then you might argue that there is a bit of a leniency period before they start hunting you down due to unpaid tax, but that's kind of not the point; the point I'm making is that I can't tax my bike even if I wanted, and there's as far as I know, no official grace period).
I admit that I rode the bike untaxed. I'm a criminal.

Taxschmax

I could of course save a huge pile of money and not pay any insurance, road tax or any other required fee. Plenty of people do it, in fact it's almost enocouraged due to that there is for example a fund for people who aren't insured. If you have an accident and you're not insured, this fund will pay up... Excellent! Unfortunately I'm raised to respect the police, the rules and the laws, so I'm "quietly" agreeing to being a criminal and trying to avoid it by not using my newly purchased bike.

For similar rants, have a look at The Weekly Gripe. Namely these articles

Funnily BBC published an article entitled Online scheme ends car tax queues. What they fail to mention is that it's only for retaxing, and it won't work unless you're the registered keeper of the vehicle as I mention above. Bah Humbug! Other than that, online taxing is very welcomed, I've used it and it works.

Sadly I don't think anything will change - unless there's a huge uprising about this - which I doubt. But I feel better now, but my bike is still confined to the garage.