Richard Nye, editor of The Richmond Magazine, a glossy listings mag, has penned an editorial for the 118-page September issue that says "the only good cyclist is a dead one." The magazine – owned by lifestyle magazine publisher Sheengate – was first published in 1998. 40,000 copies of the magazine are distributed in the upscale London suburbs of Richmond, Twickenham and Barnes.
Nye’s editorial described the surprise of enjoying Olympic cycling but, before recounting an episode of in-car road rage against a cyclist, Nye wrote of his "relief" at lapsing back into his "normal" cyclist-hating ways. He wrote: "…as a daily driver on busy roads, I tend towards the temperate view that the only good cyclist is a dead one."
The Richmond Magazine contains a half page display advert from Moore’s Cycles, which has three stores in the publication’s wealthy catchment area. Most of the other ads in the glossy title are for independent schools, loft conversion companies and other upscale products.
On its website, Moore’s Cycles said: "We are fuming. We had no idea of content when we placed the advert.
"We will not be advertising in this magazine whilst Richard Nye remains editor."
Earlier today an elderly cyclist was killed in Walton, a few miles from Richmond. The 79-year old was hit by a lorry, reports a local newspaper.
No doubt the editor of The Richmond Magazine will claim his editorial about "dead cyclists" was written as a "joke". As is usual in such lapses of editorial decency the article will be soon pulled from the online version of the magazine, but unedited versions will live on. There’s this September PDF and the editorial on page 11 has been saved for posterity on a photosharing site.
Nye’s comment was first mentioned on Twitter by Freespeedlondon.
Cameron McNeish, former editor of The Great Outdoors magazine, said:
"The editor [of The Richmond Magazine] should be sacked. [It was] a totally unacceptable comment that he should pay for with his job."
According to recent data from the Department for Transport, 21 percent of adults in Richmond cycle at least once a week, the highest rate of any London borough.
BikeBiz.com has contacted Nye for a comment but he has yet to answer (his PA said he’s had a lot of phone calls and a deluge of emails).
UPDATE 1: Sheenegate reported that Nye is "on holiday" but he managed to produce this statement:
"I am astonished at the reaction to my blog, which had nothing to do with cyclists being killed. I would never joke about such a thing. People have misunderstood my use of [the] phrase."
Naturally, the lack of a speedy apology from either Nye or his employer has led to many barbed comments being posted on Sheengate’s Facebook page.
Speaking to The Times, Nye said: “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.[In fact, this is a highly offensive phrase and originated in the US in 1869 when General Phillip Sheridan said "The only good Indians I ever saw were dead." This later morphed into "The only good Indian is a dead Indian," and has been subsequently used for Jews, black people and others perceived to be members of out-groups. Such ‘proverbial invectives’ against minorities are "dangerous slurs" and "unfortunate and misguided expressions of hate and prejudice," says an academic expert on American folklore.]
Nye continued: “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.”
He admitted: “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.”
However, digging a hole for himself, he added “a lot of cyclists behave in ways that don’t help anyone, least of all themselves.”
Nye has now written an apology:
Please let me begin by offering my unreserved apologies for any offence or distress caused by my blog in September’s issue of The Richmond Magazine.
My blog was intended to be an ironic take on the weeks of Olympic euphoria and the way in which, once such moments pass, we tend to revert to type. However, I can now see that my comments had the potential for ambiguity, and with hindsight of course, it would have been far better to have chosen my words more carefully.
Largely, the controversy has focused upon the phrase “the only good cyclist is a dead one”. It seems that this has been interpreted as, at best, flippancy about cycling fatalities, at worst, an actual desire to see harm befall cyclists on our roads. Let me make it absolutely clear that this was not my intention. Neither is it representative of Sheengate Publishing’s editorial policy on cycling, which we fully understand is a vital aspect of Surrey life.
I should add that I am well aware of the vulnerability of cyclists on our roads and the importance of addressing this. In practice, I endeavour to always approach them with the same degree of courtesy and caution as I would any other road user.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate to everyone – readers and advertisers alike – who have been offended by my words, or those who have sadly suffered a bereavement as a result of a cycling accident, my sincerest apologies.