Cyclists have called for a boycott of businesses advertising in a magazine that suggested stringing up razor wire to garrotte people riding bikes on the pavement.
The editorial in Grapevine magazine, which is delivered free to 23,000 houses in Sheffield each month, recounted a conversation between the editor, Ian Macgill, and an “old chum” in which the latter said pavement cyclists needed to be “taught a lesson” using wire at head height.
In the article, Macgill said he objected to the idea on the grounds that cyclists may be decapitated “and the pavements will become covered in red slime and gore, which will cause all sorts of health and safety hazards”. He might slip and hurt himself leaving the Grapevine office, he said.
Contacted by the Guardian, Macgill said it was just “a piece of whimsy”. “Tell people who complained that I’m probably going to recommend landmines next time,” he said.
The remarks have gone down badly among the local cycling community. “This kind of comment – joking or otherwise – legitimises the anti-cyclist hatred and rhetoric that groups like Ride Sheffield, Peak District MTB and me – as well as others such as CycleSheffield have worked hard – successfully I might add – to combat,” wrote Chris Maloney on his Keeper of the Peak blog.
“More than that, as well as legitimising the bile, Macgill has gone one step further and suggested ways in which an easily led idiot could cause serious bodily harm. It’s not surprising that there have been a number of people calling for the police to be involved,” Maloney added.
He claims acts of “trail sabotage” – where routes are booby-trapped with wire or other objects – are a regular hazard for mountain bikers in Sheffield and beyond. “If Macgill were even remotely aware of the almost weekly examples of trail sabotage cyclists see he’d have realised just how poor taste his ridiculous column is,” wrote Maloney. “Perhaps he could imagine his kids or grandkids being on the receiving end.”
Maloney printed a list of businesses advertising in Grapevine – which include the Foundry Climbing Centre and wedding venue Tapton Hall – “should you wish to make an educated decision on where you next spend your cash”.
People then contacted the businesses online to suggest they not advertise with Grapevine again.
A number of cyclists across the UK have been hurt by wires in recent years. In Manchester in 2016 Adam Hoult was “nearly decapitated” after being caught by a booby trap tripwire on a popular route in Stretford. He was left with a crushed oesophagus and severe burns around his neck which he feared at the time could scar him for life.
A survey of Australian drivers earlier this year suggested more than half think cyclists are not completely human, making it easier to justify hatred or aggression towards them.
Macgill was unrepentant and suggested the advertising boycott would not work. He repeated a call from the magazine to make number plates mandatory on bikes “so that we can photograph and report cyclists if they are cycling on the pavement”.