THERE are some real issues with encouraging people to get on their bikes.

And we really do need to encourage people to get on their bikes. For easing climate change it's vital that a switch is made to active travel for short journeys and away from always using the car.

Cycling is brilliant for health. It can be really hard to squeeze time into the day for making it to an exercise class or out to the gym but cycling kills two birds with one stone: you're moving from A to B but you're getting fit at the same time.

It's great for not only physical health but mental health as well. The link between exercise and improved mental health is well known so cycling is a benefit there too, purely due to the physical activity. Wheeling around by bike also gives you a bit of quiet and headspace away from the daily grind. 

It's very easy to find worthy and important reasons for cycling but also... it's just dead good fun. 

But, frustratingly, there are barriers to cycling.

One of the barriers to improving participation in biking is the relentless repetition of issues that should have long ago been put to bed. 

Instead of talking about the very real issues of safe cycling infrastructure, the specific barriers to increasing the numbers of women who cycle, bike storage for flat dwellers and making the roads safer for everyone, we end up in these silly squabbles about road tax, helmets and insurance.

I love cycling but I would sacrifice my bike and promise to never cycle again if it meant no one ever again saying that people who cycle should pay road tax. People who drive don't pay road tax. Why? Because there's no such thing.

Road tax, as every cyclist under the sun has been forced to explain at least a million times, was abolished in 1937. The charge you pay is vehicle excise duty (VED), which varies according to the emissions produced.

This means some low emissions vehicle and electric vehicles also don't pay any "road tax".

You never see furious motorists raging online about Nissan Note drivers not paying their fair share, do you? Nope, that special privilege is saved for cyclists, which leads to the conclusion that these people just don't like to see bikes on the road. 

That seems to be the root cause of all of the arguments, which reared their head again when STV ran a segment last week asking the question of whether people on bikes should have licences. 

The responses online showed a deep irritation about people on bikes and how they conduct themselves on the road. 

It would be a lie to say I've never seen cyclists behaving badly. Of course I do, and weekly. People dodging red lights when there's absolutely no justification for it, people narrowly avoiding pedestrians as they careen along the pavement. I don't need to tell you - you'll have seen it all too.

Does that mean a licence is needed? Of course not. It's also not an argument for mandatory helmets or for insurance or for number plates.

I saw plenty of complaints online that people aren't compelled to do Cycling Proficiency any more, as they were back in some imaginary halcyon day. Cycling Proficiency was never compulsory.

I remember watching other pupils at my primary school do it. For some reason my school only undertook Cycling Proficiency every second year so my class missed out but I'm not sure how much good it would have done me, having sat the course in P6 and starting cycling in my 30s.

But there is a course - Bikeability is the new gold standard. Kids from the primary school near my flat are learning at the moment and it's delightful to watch them as they use the carpark at my building to practice. 

Introducing mandatory tests would create another barrier that would put people off cycling, which would do more harm than good. The more people encouraged out of their cars, the less wear and tear on the roads and the more accidents would decrease.

The number of people badly injured or killed on the roads would drop and millions of pounds would be saved. 

Remember that the majority of people who cycle also hold driving licences - they know the rules of the road and they've read the Highway Code.

Cycling is a quick and easy activity to start. Introducing mandatory licence and insurance schemes would price people out of doing it and would add bureaucratic hurdles that would put people off.

How would we deal with children and young people cycling? The Shawlands Primary Bike Bus is a glorious example of the benefits of people of all ages cycling - would we ban children from the roads, making them less healthy and curbing their ability to travel independently? Where's the benefit to that?

We really need to focus on all of those legitimate issues I mentioned earlier and stop being distracted by empty, pointless nonsense. 

If you have some sort of deep-rooted feeling that cyclists should be punished purely for being on the road then you're not likely to listen to any of the very rational arguments about the situation.

But you could just go and quietly grumble in a corner somewhere instead of trying to make life more difficult for people who are actually taking part in an activity that's beneficial to society as a whole.