- N Wales
The link to emissions may be relatively recent, but Road Tax (i.e. motorists paying in to the ring-fenced Road Fund) was abolished in 1937. Since then VED under whatever name it's had has simply been another aspect of general taxation. So if we consider that taxes pay for things (and that's a whole other argument!) then we all pay whether via income tax, VAT, corporate gains tax, NI, fuel duty, VED, whatever... cyclists included.Unless it's a Motorway of course !
WRT to vehicle tax, it is relatively recent that this has been linked to emissions, and in the case of a California it's based more upon the purchase price for the first few years. When all vehicles are zero emission it will have to be based upon something else. With the political will, a mechanism and basis for cyclists to be taxed could be determined.
Incidentally the terms Tax and Excise Duty are synonymous, although "Vehicle Tax" seems preferred to "Road Tax" as a term these days.