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"I have made a big mistake" says contrite publican...

A Cirencester pub landlord at the centre of a social media storm about anti-cyclist remarks on Facebook has apologised unreservedly for his comments.

James Walker of the Bathurst Arms says he had intended to highlight the risk he felt cyclists were taking while riding three abreast, after he encountered a group of riders on the A435.

But since then he has been targeted by angry cyclists who have called for a boycott of his pub and even threatened him and his family.

Among the comments Walker has received:

“Unbelievable a person with your callous and wreck less (sic) views on human life still exists.”

“I hope your restaurant burns to the ground with you in it and your 4 by 4 rolls in a ditch while cyclists laugh and then go on their merry way.”

“Hoping something very nasty happens to you and your family. Scum.” (From someone pretending to be Bradley Wiggins)

“C*NT”

“Unless you make amends, action will be taken against you.”

“I have contacted the police about you, you ignorant twat.”

Walker told road.cc that he later realised how bad his comments looked. He is an ultra-marathon runner, who has competed in the 150-mile Marathon des Sables.

“This was between me, a runner and some triathlon and cyclist friends. It wasn’t meant to be a cars versus cyclist thing,” he said.

In his original posting Walker wrote: “Cycling is for weak-kneed individuals who hide their lack of athletic ability behind thousands of pounds of hi tech gear. Your need for a low impact form of activity will be rudely negated when I smash my four by four into your rear tyre at sixty miles an hour on a surface paid for by me the motorist. The impact will be far from low I tell you. Buy some trainers and go for a run in the fields. Cycling is for the French, Belgians and Spanish. Leave it alone.”

Doesn’t sound good does it? But Walker explains that the cracks about weak knees and hi-tech gear were aimed at his friends, and the three-abreast riders were a group he’d encountered while out for a drive.

Walker saod that he had been doing 60 mph on the A435 when he came round a bend and there was a group of riders in front of him. He just slowed down and went round them, but it got him thinking how bad a crash would have been if someone were speeding along there and hit them.

A screenshot of his posting was copied to another Facebook group and spread rapidly from there.

Contrite

Walker comes across as genuinely contrite and deeply embarrassed.

“I am not anti-cyclist at all,” he said. “My best man is a cyclist and last night I even gave a cyclist a lift home because he was going to try and ride home without working lights.”

“I have made a big mistake and I have publically apologised on Facebook. I am also responding personally to everyone who is contacting me via email over the issue.

“I am taking this extremely seriously and am very regretful.”

And while the hostile comments he has received have not been any fun, “On the plus side, I have had a lot of pleasant correspondence with people who took the time to contact me properly and I am grateful for their more measured responses and genuinely admire the spirit of camaraderie that seems to exist in the world of cycling.”

Walker asked road.cc to publish this statement in full:

“The comments made on my private Facebook page were taken out of the closed circle for which they were intended by a third party and posted without my knowledge. I have the utmost respect for athletes of all disciplines and all road users.

“The anti cycling banter is between some cycling/triathlon friends with dodgy knees and me, an ultra runner. I met some of these guys doing the Marathon des Sables last year. I take athletic endeavour seriously. I stand ashamed and now corrected over the issue of road funding. I am sure that this ignorance annoys cyclists all the time. 

“Everyone has a right to use our roads and with that right comes a responsibility to use them safely whatever your preferred method of transport. 

“I know that there are those that will not forgive what has been written but I am very sorry for any upset that this has caused amongst the cycling community. It was never my intention. This was initially meant to be rival banter between runners and cyclists not cars and cyclists.

“I take full responsibility for what was written, just wish I had written it a little differently. A lesson in the power of social media learned. The hard way.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

53 comments

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KiwiMike [1269 posts] 3 years ago
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Fair doos. Calm down everyone.

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BBB [444 posts] 3 years ago
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“Cycling is for weak-kneed individuals who hide their lack of athletic ability behind thousands of pounds of hi tech gear. Your need for a low impact form of activity will be rudely negated when I smash my four by four into your rear tyre at sixty miles an hour on a surface paid for by me the motorist. The impact will be far from low I tell you. Buy some trainers and go for a run in the fields. Cycling is for the French, Belgians and Spanish. Leave it alone.”

A clear display of insecurity and/or some anger management issues by a bully who takes his hobby and himself far too seriously.

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musicalmarc [105 posts] 3 years ago
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Sounds like he was having a laugh with his friends and it went public. It's pretty clear from the language that he's not being serious. Shame people gave such extreme responses.

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ilovemytinbred [161 posts] 3 years ago
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What an idiot. But then some of those comments mentioned in the article do little to restore my faith in human nature.

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Tom Amos [236 posts] 3 years ago
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"All the gear and no idea" He called that one right, didn't he?  4

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lolol [207 posts] 3 years ago
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Some people are very, very tetchy. Stupid comments of course, but threats, wishing death, destruction and disaster on him and his family is not really helping anyone. If he wasnt sorry, then a boycott is plenty, but he is and it was taken out of context.

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Ghedebrav [1099 posts] 3 years ago
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musicalmarc wrote:

Sounds like he was having a laugh with his friends and it went public. It's pretty clear from the language that he's not being serious. Shame people gave such extreme responses.

That's about right. Social media do seem to elicit unnecessarily extreme reactions.

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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The most astonishing thing I have ever read. "Pub Landlord apologises."

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Shanefutcher [98 posts] 3 years ago
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This guy is like a politician.not sorry until he gets found out then swears its misinterpreted.i hope he encounters me,as if he didn't kill me knocking me off he'll get his comeuppance

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LondonCalling [151 posts] 3 years ago
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The uncomfortable thing about this, is that James Walker posted it in his Facebook wall, and unless the post was "Public", it should not have been distributed like that. I think Mr Walker needs to do a Facebook cleanup...

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therealsmallboy [169 posts] 3 years ago
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Oooops.

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kiwimagic64 [9 posts] 3 years ago
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He made very very stupid comments....but wishing him dead and harm to his family..come on man,thats takin it to far.

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Tom Amos [236 posts] 3 years ago
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PS I think I am correct in saying that someone screenshot his status, which was reserved for friends only, and then published his comments on a public forum. That is bang out of order. That person has subsequently apologised. Anyhow, storm, teacups. And personally I found what he wrote quite funny.

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pepita1 [176 posts] 3 years ago
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Mr Walker got back what he gave out. Whether it was for a private group of readers or not, he has demonstrated a lack of empathy for cyclists who have been knocked down by a car driver. What a thoughtless jerk.

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dunnoh [210 posts] 3 years ago
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"Cycling is for weak-kneed individuals who hide their lack of athletic ability behind thousands of pounds of hi tech gear". HANG ON. I'm sure I've never met him

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cbrndc [35 posts] 3 years ago
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"when I smash my four by four into your rear tyre at sixty miles an hour on a surface paid for by me the motorist. The impact will be far from low I tell you". Why hasn't he been arrested for threatening comments like that. All the signs of hate crime right there. Then he writes the comments on facebook which he thinks is "private"! Thick as pigshit!

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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Same old story from people who reliase they have put their foot in it.

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spen [138 posts] 3 years ago
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Yes, it might have been meant to be funny but in the past few years too many people have died for "Your need for a low impact form of activity will be rudely negated when I smash my four by four into your rear tyre at sixty miles an hour on a surface paid for by me the motorist. The impact will be far from low I tell you." to be remotely funny  14

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pwake [404 posts] 3 years ago
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BBB - thanks for the psychoanalysis.
Shanefutcher - Can you be publicly sorry until you're 'found out'? I hope your comment isn't misinterpreted...
Pepita1 - I'm sure you've never made a thoughtless comment, especially among friends.

Knowing the back story to his, somewhat misguided, comments, this guy does have a point; we all need to act responsibly and keep ourselves safe, when I lived on the UK I used to ride on the A435 regularly; it's not a road I would ride even two abreast on, certainly not three.

There's a strange, worryingly self-righteous mentality in many comments here, but I guess that's the anonymity of the web for you.

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SideBurn [890 posts] 3 years ago
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He is sorry.... yep..... Sorry he got caught

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moonbucket [63 posts] 3 years ago
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Silly sod. The elitist rant regarding his athletic ego fair enough but the daft crap about squishing cyclists and paying for the roads. Especially as a runner he's vulnerable, surely, when out on country roads putting the miles in.

However, he's recanted and hopefully means it.

It's unfortunate that the responses from (some) cyclists were so base - it just gives ammunition to the I-pay-for-the-road motorists.

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John Stevenson [274 posts] 3 years ago
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You do wonder just what someone has to do to apologise to appease some sections of our community.

I spoke at some length with James Walker, and if he's not genuinely sorry, then he's wasted running a pub when he could get a few million a film for his acting skills.

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seven [155 posts] 3 years ago
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northstar wrote:

Same old story from people who reliase they have put their foot in it.

Not quite the same old imho - compare Emma Way's non-apology and she really did hit someone and brag about it in public, not just trash talk with mates on a nominally private forum.

Some of the anti-car lines I come out with at work trying to get a rise out of my car enthusiast mates would, if taken out of context, piss off a lot of people. Likewise the crap those guys come out with when they're trying to wind me up. There's a big difference between trash talk and saying these things out of ignorance.

Granted, Walker has a business to protect - and a lot of comments I've read reckon he's apologising out of self interest - but to me that's a red herring. Even if he for some insane reason had stuck to his guns instead of unreservedly apologising I reckon he could've picked up plenty extra custom from the cyclist-haters. When it comes to his business if there even is an effect then he's probably damned either way as there's a lot of folk who aren't buying his apology. Hence: red herring.

If this story makes the mainstream news it'll probably do more for VED awareness than ipayroadtax.com has ever been able to despite banging that drum for years now.

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smaryka [18 posts] 3 years ago
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Screenshot showed his Facebook comment was public (that's what the little earth logo beside the post means).

http://www.wiltsglosstandard.co.uk/resources/images/2541322.jpg?type=art...

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Tony Farrelly [2882 posts] 3 years ago
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It would be laughable if it wasn't so sad that so many people react to a perceived anti-cyslist 'hate' comment with a load more hate without seeming to see the irony of their response. The double irony here is that their hate would appear to be genuine while the pub landlord's was not. As John who actually spoke to him says above if he isn't sorry he's wasting his acting talent behind the bar.

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gazza_d [468 posts] 3 years ago
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regardless of the guy being an ultra marathon runner, joking even to friends about mowing people down is simply not funny.

Anyone who thinks it is has some issues somewhere.

Responding with the same level of hate is as bad though.

Best thing to do is to organise a flashride to the pub & ask for a free pint each as an apology.

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Squiggle [403 posts] 3 years ago
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Good God I cannot believe there are so many people who just don't get sporting banter! It's a form of respect between athletes, I'm sure his tri and cycling mates give him just as much abuse. It's not hateful, it's friendly mocking! The only thing that went wrong was that some tit in the inner circle didn't get it (like many of the ridiculous replies above) and decided to make it public. What a complete fool that person must be!  14

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Squiggle [403 posts] 3 years ago
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gazza_d wrote:

regardless of the guy being an ultra marathon runner, joking even to friends about mowing people down is simply not funny.

You do understand the difference between low and high impact sports right???? It's a play on the different meanings between the low impact of cycling and the high impact of running. He's saying that the high impact of cycling would involve being hit by a car... get it????

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Bez [608 posts] 3 years ago
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The witch hunts depress me. The vitriol of the individual comments and veiled threats, the pack mentality of the attack. People attacking not from any moral high ground, nor with any dignity or reason, but flinging their own rancid shit from a moral pit at least as deep as one from which the original messages, such as they interpret them, come.

No-one is free to make a joke or post with irony about cyclists anymore, no-one is given the grace to retract their words whether they were formed through malice or not. There are many cyclists who go on these attacks with no intention whatsoever to seek to change anyone's mind or to achieve a positive outcome, but purely as some form of inevitably escalating mutual hatred and destruction: We Do Not Negotiate With Terrorists.

Yes, we are all mortally vulnerable on the road. Yes, hate speech exists and must be addressed. Yes, it's clear why people feel anger at these comments. But if you do not believe in tasteless jokes, if you do not believe in leopards changing their spots, if you do not believe in constructive argument, then I am not with you and the interests of anyone who cycles on the road are not with you. Take your incendiary, counter-productive fury away from a discussion that affects the risks we all face daily.

I am grateful and impressed that in the face of the responses given above, it was the person who made the original post that put out the flames, because a bunch of idiot cyclists did a proper job of throwing petrol on it.

Cyclists as petrolheads. Who knew?

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Bez [608 posts] 3 years ago
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gazza_d wrote:

joking even to friends about mowing people down is simply not funny. Anyone who thinks it is has some issues somewhere.

Or simply has different friends with different shared experiences and a different sense of humour to you.

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