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Power of social media sees issue move from Richmond to cycling media then onto mainstream outlets

Southwest London bike retailer Moore’s Cycles has said it will not be repeating its advertising in a local publication Richmond Magazine for as long as its editor, who wrote that ‘the only good cyclist is a dead one,’ remains in his job. Yesterday, reaction to editor Richard Nye’s column went beyond the magazine’s local readership after news of it spread following a forum posting here on road.cc, and a news story on cycle trade website BikeBiz. The Times newspaper then picked it up, with its story including clarifcation by Nye of his comments.

While Moore’s Cycles decision to pull advertising came earlier this week and before the forum posting here – although another dealership in the area, Sigma Sport has also said on Twitter it will not now be going ahead with advertising it was considering in the magazine – it does demonstrate something that we are increasingly seeing.

That is the power of social media to give cyclists a voice and take issue with the type of comments Nye made. Examples include the reaction against Addison Lee earlier this year following its chairman’s anti-cyclist comments in the company magazine, which among other things led to the loss of the firm’s government contract, or insurance firm Ingenie’s ill-thought-out ShareTheRoadUK campaign, pulled last month within days of its launch.

Market research consistently shows that regular cyclists are an affluent, educated demographic – exactly the kind of readership profile that a glossy lifestyle magazine is seeking to attract, and particularly in an area such as Richmond which is not only one of London’s wealthier suburbs, but also has the highest levels of regular cycling of any Outer London borough according to analysis published last week by the Department for Transport.

In a blog post published on its website yesterday, Moore’s Cycles, which operates bike shops in Twickenham, Teddington and Isleworth, said: “Words cannot fully describe the horror we felt reading Richmond Magazine editor Richard Nye’s comments that ‘the only good cyclist is a dead one'.

“Our customers and staff are all cyclists and it is utterly reprehensible that the editor of a magazine which should be supporting the local community and businesses can write such offensive comments. We were not aware of the editorial content when we booked our advert. We sent a complaint to the magazine on Monday. To date we have received no response. Where is their accountability? It goes without saying that we will not be advertising in this magazine whilst Richard Nye remains editor.”

Nye told The Times:  “With regard to my remark about the only good cyclist being a dead one, it is just a phrase, like people who said during the Cold War that ‘the only good Russian is a dead one’. It’s a standard English phrase. It doesn’t actually mean you want to see that person dead. I absolutely don’t wish cyclists any ill.

“I was suggesting that I used to be really angry at cyclists, then we all had this cycling love-in at the Olympics, and then to my relief I went back to being this angry person again. That’s not actually something to be relieved about. It had irony written all over it. I don’t shout such things at cyclists.

“If I were writing the piece again, I perhaps wouldn’t choose to use that phrase and if there are individuals out there who have suffered a painful loss as a result of a cycle accident, then to those individuals I am very sorry and it certainly wasn’t anywhere in my thoughts at all to think about cycling fatalities when I wrote that line.”

He went on: “A lot of cyclists behave in ways that don’t help anyone, least of all themselves,” Nye said: “This wasn’t a deadly serious piece. It was a slightly ironic piece aimed as much at my own eccentricity as anything else.”

Local councillor Katharine Harbone, who acts as the borough’s cycling champion, told The Times: “If it was done in jest, it is a bad taste joke and irresponsible in that it stirs up anger and frustration from cyclists, especially as Richmond is a borough with one of the highest proportion of journeys made by bike.

“I can see he probably did it in jest, but if a politician did something like that they would be crucified. My first reaction was to think, ‘you cannot be serious.’ Especially as a cycling company advertises in his magazine.”

The row over Nye’s comments also dragged in a publication across the Atlantic in Richmond, Virginia that shares the same title, with some people addressing tweets to the American publication by mistake.

The Richmond, Virginia-based magazine showed its Transatlantic namesake the right way to engage bike riders, tweeting “While we have cyclists' attention, here's a 2011 story about local cyclists making a difference for kids,” with a link to a story featuring a local cycling club that focuses on community outreach to disadvantaged children in the inner city.

 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

31 comments

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londonplayer [620 posts] 3 years ago
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The unfortunate thing about this whole business is that Richmond magazine now has publicity that it could never buy. Great way to get free advertising. Say something controversial about cyclists and then apologise/clarify your remarks.

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cidermart [489 posts] 3 years ago
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Local councillor Katharine Harbone, who acts as the borough’s cycling champion “I can see he probably did it in jest, but if a politician did something like that they would be crucified" or given a post in the cabinet as head of transport or something like that  19

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Goodtwist [20 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm a Road.cc reader not living in the UK and I'm regularly astounded by some of the news here. Life threatening assaults on cyclists, be it by clothes wire in neck-height, Mad-Max-like auto drivers, or public appeals to kill or harm cyclists.

I honestly can't grasp it. What's wrong with some of your compatriots on the Islands?!?!? If such things were to happen in Germany or Austria there'd be a public uproar. Mind you, I'm not saying that Germany or Austria are anyhow "better countries", there's shit happening there, too.

But somehow it's all too much to comprehend that level of violence... I guess I want to express that such violence IS NOT NORMAL. It's not happening in the rest of Europe at least.

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Benslow [5 posts] 3 years ago
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As per above, these unknown journos working for small circulation mags/ papers love to do this for the publicity.

Its a daft article that just deserves to be ignored.

It certainly didn't bother me more than a quick sigh ...

 37

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Angelfishsolo [132 posts] 3 years ago
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If his comment had been "The only good [insert race / religion / sexual orientation / gender] is a dead one he would be facing prosecution. As I have found out there are far to many holes in British law.

That said I am extremely glad that this morons advertising has been cut and that large and respected News Papers are running with the story.

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Simon_MacMichael [2450 posts] 3 years ago
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londonplayer wrote:

The unfortunate thing about this whole business is that Richmond magazine now has publicity that it could never buy. Great way to get free advertising. Say something controversial about cyclists and then apologise/clarify your remarks.

Free publicity is priceless, yes, but so is the magazine - it's a freebie, funded by advertising, not sales  3

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JohnS [198 posts] 3 years ago
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Simon_MacMichael wrote:
londonplayer wrote:

The unfortunate thing about this whole business is that Richmond magazine now has publicity that it could never buy. Great way to get free advertising. Say something controversial about cyclists and then apologise/clarify your remarks.

Free publicity is priceless, yes, but so is the magazine - it's a freebie, funded by advertising, not sales  3

Unfotunately, increased awareness of the existence of this rag means they can justify charging more for advertising or trying to grab more advertisers, even if the mag is given away free.

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FatFreddie [19 posts] 3 years ago
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Angelfishsolo wrote:

If his comment had been "The only good [insert race / religion / sexual orientation / gender] is a dead one he would be facing prosecution. As I have found out there are far to many holes in British law.

So, next census, we should all put cycling down as our religion...

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lushmiester [187 posts] 3 years ago
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Over the years of cycling I have been viewed as a weirdo someone that must be taking drugs a exploiter of the tax paying motorist and more. So I'm nor surprised by Mr Nye comment, sadden yes it seems that society is fare less tolerant of those activities that stray slightly from the norm then it should be. But if I believe that society should be more tolerant then I must except that Mr Nye has a right to express his views, I do not have to subscribe to his views any more than I have to read(or place adverts in) his magazine.

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Matt_S [253 posts] 3 years ago
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I do hope his kids don't ride.

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fluffy_mike [98 posts] 3 years ago
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I think that old adage "any publicity is good publicity" is horseshit in today's brand-sensitive society

Sheengate have done an excellent job of positioning themselves as a massive bunch of Cs in a borough with one of the highest rates of cycling in the country

madness!

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Rouleur Rouge [2 posts] 3 years ago
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Not wishing to appear mailcious at all I do hope he goes bankrupt, that his wife (if anyone was stupid enough to have him) runs off with a pro cyclist and he is run over by a 4x4 on Richmond High Street. Then maybe he'll get some more publicity.

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Mat Brett [624 posts] 3 years ago
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"...like people who said during the Cold War that ‘the only good Russian is a dead one’."

Oh yeah, that well known saying from the Cold War. Barely a day would go by without some dropping that into the conversation. What a tit!

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Rouleur Rouge [2 posts] 3 years ago
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FatFreddie wrote:
Angelfishsolo wrote:

If his comment had been "The only good [insert race / religion / sexual orientation / gender] is a dead one he would be facing prosecution. As I have found out there are far to many holes in British law.

So, next census, we should all put cycling down as our religion...

Sorry, you don't already? I thought everyone did...

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londonplayer [620 posts] 3 years ago
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FatFreddie wrote:
Angelfishsolo wrote:

If his comment had been "The only good [insert race / religion / sexual orientation / gender] is a dead one he would be facing prosecution. As I have found out there are far to many holes in British law.

So, next census, we should all put cycling down as our religion...

That is a very good idea. What should we call ourselves?  4

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Mostyn [396 posts] 3 years ago
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What a Forrest Gump! Stupid is as stupid does (or writes) A Numpty.

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lushmiester [187 posts] 3 years ago
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Quote:

[b]So, next census, we should all put cycling down as our religion...

[/b]

Well that might beat 'Jedi Knight' at 0.8% of the population based on the 2001 census

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Driver Protest Union [22 posts] 3 years ago
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I am surprised he is the editor of anything. He is correct. He really can't think that so why on Earth publish it?

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Campag_10 [153 posts] 3 years ago
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I think it's great that pressure from social media has forced this muppet to apologise. I hope many other firms pull their advertising too.

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RichmondCycling [3 posts] 3 years ago
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Following his apology (http://www.sheengate.co.uk/richmond-and-barnes/2012/09/07/official-apolo...), Richmond Cycling Campaign has offered to meet Mr Nye for a cycle in the borough to better understand the challenges cyclists face on our streets and why the reaction was so strong.

http://www.richmondlcc.co.uk/2012/09/08/the-richmond-magazine

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Posh [48 posts] 3 years ago
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To invoke the McCarthy witch hunts of the 50's as a basis for advocating dead cyclists in 2012 shows this man for what he is..........An out of date prat that should not be allowed to influence the current, more open minded generations of society. That this man has such influence on an otherwise good, local magazine (and I've read it) is an abomination.
If he doesn't resign, withdraw all advertising and let the money speak.  14

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11speedaddict [75 posts] 3 years ago
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Chillax as the youngsters would say  20
it is a phrase used before. not sure about the cold war but Electro Hippies LP " Only good Punk is a dead one "
did all the punks get arsey about it ? we wouldnt know as the internet was not invented so no online forums.
As a 7 day a week cyclist ( for the last 25 years) who also has owned a driving license since i was 17 (now 46) - I think if most people responding to the offending quote were aware that it was not the mans sentiments - he was using a famous quote - just with "cyclist " in it. this is not a war - us against them. bikes against cars.
we have to share the roads. most bike riders drive and are guilty of diving errors PLUS riding misdemeanours.
The man is probably an ok guy who expressed his opinion and now is being run out of town. we do not know him. but we all have an opinion on him now.
He has probably said sorry for using a quote that is a sensitive issue.
Lets leave it at that
and i hate cars and drivers some of the time when i get cut up commuting every morning but in the scheme of life - small potatoes.  20

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don_don [149 posts] 3 years ago
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11speedaddict wrote:

Chillax as the youngsters would say  20
it is a phrase used before. not sure about the cold war but Electro Hippies LP " Only good Punk is a dead one "
did all the punks get arsey about it ? we wouldnt know as the internet was not invented so no online forums.
As a 7 day a week cyclist ( for the last 25 years) who also has owned a driving license since i was 17 (now 46) - I think if most people responding to the offending quote were aware that it was not the mans sentiments - he was using a famous quote - just with "cyclist " in it. this is not a war - us against them. bikes against cars.
we have to share the roads. most bike riders drive and are guilty of diving errors PLUS riding misdemeanours.
The man is probably an ok guy who expressed his opinion and now is being run out of town. we do not know him. but we all have an opinion on him now.
He has probably said sorry for using a quote that is a sensitive issue.
Lets leave it at that
and i hate cars and drivers some of the time when i get cut up commuting every morning but in the scheme of life - small potatoes.  20

Please don't insult us further by down-playing this disgraceful piece of gutter 'journalism'. Punks may have suffered prejudice but they were not being killed every day, or having their lives either deliberately or carelessly put at risk by people who might just take this sh*t seriously.

WE already share the roads. The drivers that put our lives at risk will not. Some of them may just decide to treat us with even less respect after reading Nye's disgusting comments. We should not 'chillax'. Nor should we leave it at that..

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 3 years ago
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don_don wrote:
11speedaddict wrote:

Chillax as the youngsters would say  20
it is a phrase used before. not sure about the cold war but Electro Hippies LP " Only good Punk is a dead one "
did all the punks get arsey about it ? we wouldnt know as the internet was not invented so no online forums.
As a 7 day a week cyclist ( for the last 25 years) who also has owned a driving license since i was 17 (now 46) - I think if most people responding to the offending quote were aware that it was not the mans sentiments - he was using a famous quote - just with "cyclist " in it. this is not a war - us against them. bikes against cars.
we have to share the roads. most bike riders drive and are guilty of diving errors PLUS riding misdemeanours.
The man is probably an ok guy who expressed his opinion and now is being run out of town. we do not know him. but we all have an opinion on him now.
He has probably said sorry for using a quote that is a sensitive issue.
Lets leave it at that
and i hate cars and drivers some of the time when i get cut up commuting every morning but in the scheme of life - small potatoes.  20

Please don't insult us further by down-playing this disgraceful piece of gutter 'journalism'. Punks may have suffered prejudice but they were not being killed every day, or having their lives either deliberately or carelessly put at risk by people who might just take this sh*t seriously.

WE already share the roads. The drivers that put our lives at risk will not. Some of them may just decide to treat us with even less respect after reading Nye's disgusting comments. We should not 'chillax'. Nor should we leave it at that..

The editor is an irresponsible fool and if the publisher has any sense, a sacking will be in order. The comment is unacceptable.

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11speedaddict [75 posts] 3 years ago
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to an extent i was just playing Devils Advocate....to an extent .
we do not have to rise to the bait every time somebody says something clearly to get a bit of publicity. thats all i am saying.
i think if you are familiar with the ".....dead one " quote you see the comment in a marginally different context. They were not his words as such - evem though it was in poor taste.
if we are going to spout vague statistics like " cyclists killed every day" and also say Cycling is not a high risk / dangerous activity - which is it ? I , with my massive experience of all types of riding for a quarter of a century would never consider cycling dangerous. i dont do dangerous !!
oh and i dont wear a helmet / hi- vis. i dont feel vulnerable at all.

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 3 years ago
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RichmondCycling wrote:

Following his apology (http://www.sheengate.co.uk/richmond-and-barnes/2012/09/07/official-apolo...), Richmond Cycling Campaign has offered to meet Mr Nye for a cycle in the borough to better understand the challenges cyclists face on our streets and why the reaction was so strong.

http://www.richmondlcc.co.uk/2012/09/08/the-richmond-magazine

This sounds a very reasonable and intelligent response. I'm not sure Mr Nye has the intelligence to understand it or is sufficiently quick-witted to change his views. But I applaud the effort being made.

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K Stand Ken [59 posts] 3 years ago
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I am the magazine editor of one of England's longest established cycling clubs and one of my recent and more cynical comments in the mag was that if anyone wanted someone dead they should buy them a bike then hit them with a car or truck. Their penalty would probably be no more than a slap on the wrist fine and 3 points on their licence. I am hereby offering to start a fund to buy Richard Nye a bike, are there any more takers out there?  14

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don_don [149 posts] 3 years ago
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11speedaddict wrote:

to an extent i was just playing Devils Advocate....to an extent .
we do not have to rise to the bait every time somebody says something clearly to get a bit of publicity. thats all i am saying.
i think if you are familiar with the ".....dead one " quote you see the comment in a marginally different context. They were not his words as such - evem though it was in poor taste.
if we are going to spout vague statistics like " cyclists killed every day" and also say Cycling is not a high risk / dangerous activity - which is it ? I , with my massive experience of all types of riding for a quarter of a century would never consider cycling dangerous. i dont do dangerous !!
oh and i dont wear a helmet / hi- vis. i dont feel vulnerable at all.

Point taken Ian, but I was making a general comment, not spouting vague statistics. Having had a look at the DfT figures (http://assets.dft.gov.uk/statistics/tables/ras30002.xls) cycling casualties in GB in 2011 were:

Killed - 107
Seriously injured - 3085

Does that seem safe to you?

Many campaigners in the country cling to the idea that cycling is safe, statistically speaking, and that you are far more likley to be involved in an 'accident' as a car occupant. That may be statistically correct, but it will never convince the majority of the population to get on their bikes. They can see for themselves what its like on the roads. David Arditti has an interesting take on this in his blog:

http://www.voleospeed.co.uk/2011/07/cycling-is-dangerous.html

We have both been cycling for over 25 years, so perhaps that makes me 'massively experienced' as well. Where I disagree with you is that cycling in current UK road conditions is often difficult, unpleasant and (by any realistic definition - see the above blog post) dangerous.

Nye's comment is so objectionable partly because it may make our lives harder on the roads, but also because it is bound to put off some prospective cyclists from ever getting on a bike.

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11speedaddict [75 posts] 3 years ago
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Hi don_don
my Massive cycling experience is a bit tongue-in -cheek , as for one , my experiences are wildly different to a commuter say in London (or any busy city ).
i struggle with the differing camps on encouraging people to cycle. some say its a safe healthy pastime others make out its Death Race 2000.
as for the man Nye 's comment - he has no influence - readers/ drivers are not going to act more erratically to cyclists from reading his bigoted comment. they may agree with him but their driving style will not change.
The problem with Britain is too many dickheads not just the ones driving Corsa s .
I just came back from doing the Mourne Mountain sportif near Belfast - which as far as i am aware is in the UK. Even riding around the very busy roads of the city I was amazed at the politeness of all drivers. HGV s , cars buses all pulled out for you. never heard a comment or beeped horn in 3 days / 210 miles of riding.--funny that,

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Sheen wheels [23 posts] 1 year ago
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I have just received the latest edition of the Richmond Magazine and discover that a) Richard Nye is no longer editor and b) it now has a new cycling column. Has someone smelt the coffee?

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