Gastropub owner jokes he’ll ram cyclists at 60mph as they don’t pay for roads

The Bathurst Arms is an ivy-clad pub hotel in the sleepy Cotswolds. The restaurant is to die for. If you make it that far, that is. If you’re a cyclist the landlord of the The Bathurst Arms wants to see you dead. Or at least he did, until others pointed out that writing death threats on social media, even in jest, is (a) bad for business and (b) potentially actionable. James Walker – the Emma Way of beer retailing – wrote about smashing into cyclists at 60mph in his “four by four” but has since offered his “unreserved apology.”

A social media shitstorm quickly followed his remarks. As he’s the director of the Bathurst Arms he won’t be sacking himself.

He recognises he’s been an idiot. His intention hadn’t been to “upset cyclists” so his comments that cyclists are “weak kneed individuals who hide their lack of athletic ability behind thousands of pounds of hi-tech gear” shouldn’t be held against him. And now that he recognises that roads are funded by income tax, road tax and fuel duty” (he gets this wrong even after the facts have been pointed out to him) presumably he won’t he ramming cyclists at “sixty miles an hour” because the cyclists are “riding three abreast on a surface paid for by me.”

This belief that roads belong to motorists alone – because, apparently, they pay for them – can be found all over social media, and is even captured on helmet cams. Otherwise intelligent people reveal they genuinely don’t know how roads are paid for. Some put their entitlement prejudices on public view. They see it as socially acceptable to verbally abuse fellow road users because of the mistaken belief that those road users don’t pay for roads. Motorists don’t pay for roads, all tax payers pay for roads. How many “punishment passes” – and worse – are due to this corrosive, dangerous belief that cyclists are interlopers on the motorists’ domain?

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ipayroadtax toastie jersey

Road tax doesn’t exist. The ironically-named iPayRoadTax.com helps spread this message on cycle jerseys.

  • Martin Woodhall

    He sounds delightful

  • Tim Rolfe

    Apparently a bit of a $*nker too

  • Tim Rolfe

    And obviously the fact that Chris Froome just obliterated the French, Belgians, Spanish as well as a few notable riders from elsewhere on Ventoux this Sunday is totally lost on him too.

  • SuffolkCyclist

    As of this Sunday morning, 21st July, that well-known “weak kneed individual” Froome seems to be doing rather well for the country in the Tour. Walker is definitely something else beginning with “w” and ending in “r”.

  • Mac McCully

    Whilst I agree there is no such thing as road tax some cyclists, as do some motorists, give the rest a bad name. I have had my car scratched, wing mirror broken etc by cyclists who decide when cars are stopped at lights it’s ok to ride up past waiting cars between the kerb and stationary vehicles. Some will also hop onto pavements at lights putting pedestrians at risk as they try and beat that 2-3 minute period the lights are red. We also have large pelatons of cyclists from clubs in my area riding throughout the weekend holding up cars for considerable distances on major roads, why not pull over and let the mile long snake of cars past. Let’s not have a road tax but cyclist insurance and a registration system like a small number plate that means that cyclists like motorists have to be accountable for their actions.

  • Stuart

    By law, vehicles are allowed on the road only by licence. Pedestians horses and cyclist have a right to use the highway

  • ManWithAPlan

    This is firmly in the ‘car drivers have priority’ mind frame. I myself am a cyclist, a driver and an occasional pedestrian. I think, and I think others would agree if they stopped and thought about all this, that, due to human self-centred-ness, whichever type of road user I am at a particular time, I hold prejudice against the others. E.g if I’m a cyclist, I am ready to blame drivers or pedestrians and wish them to get out of my way, and similarly if i’m behind the wheel of a car I’m thinking “I hope that cyclist doesn’t pull out infront of me”, or “why is that cyclist riding so far out in the road and without a helmet and without ever looking over their shoulder”. Equally if I’m walking along as a pedestrian I’m thinking “stupid polluting cars, and watch out you mayhem cyclists!” I’ve exaggerated this a little to demonstrate, but I do think a lot of these arguments come down to simple psychology. (As an aside though, I think the general message of this website, that “road tax” doesn’t exist and car drivers pay “vehicle tax”, or even better “pollution tax” is a message that is very worthwhile spreading.)

  • Adrian Green

    I always slow down and allow a wide berth for cyclists on the road. I wouldn’t want an accident on my conscience and knowing that they are using their own steam to get from A to B always impresses me. Fair play to them – people of all ages. Thank you for your very informative website. I hope more people read it and take on board the facts.

  • Tony

    The fact is a car owner cannot use roads unless he has car tax, and if he keeps his car off the road he does not have to pay the tax.

    The tax is therefore de facto a charge for using roads I.e. a road tax. There was even talk at one time of basing the tax on actual usage.

    I am of the opinion that cyclists have a legal right to roads. However a smaller license charge might be appropriate.

  • ScaredAmoeba

    If road-tax existed, how come it is possible to have a vehicle legally on the road and pay nothing? Band-A vehicles are zero-rated. You are therefore calling for cyclists to pay a tax that motorists need not pay.

    There is therefore no de facto charge for using the road.

    Vehicle Excise Duty is a pollution tax, it is therefore voluntary.

    Roads are funded out of general taxation, nationally and locally.

    I note you make no mention of horse-riders and pedestrians who are also road-users. Your logic is defective.

    Due to the external costs of motoring, which are not paid by motorists, but which are then foisted on the wider public, motorists are subsidised.
    A recent 2012 report found that each UK registered vehicle is subsidised on average by just over 2,000 Euro per year.
    This is despite paying VED and fuel tax. It does not include the costs of congestion, estimates vary, but may be as high as £30bn per year. Congestion is caused almost entirely by motor vehicles.

    A flat-rate charge for pollution is inferior to some kind of road-pricing. External costs are mileage-related, but also geographical. Pollution is dependent on driving style – speed, acceleration etc. Congestion is time of day dependent.

    While utility cycling – that’s cycling instead of driving, benefits the economy. 109 cyclists, cycling at least three times per week would boost the economy by £1 million over thirty years.

    Discouraging cycling is bad for the economy. So taxing cyclists wouldn’t be very smart, would it?

  • ScaredAmoeba

    In my experience it isn’t cyclists who hold me up, it is motorists. I speak as a cyclist, pedestrian and as a driver.

    Drivers seem to believe that they have the innate right to swerve in-front of me as I cycle up to the lights, junction etc. They even overtake me in order to stop.
    They overtake me in pinch-points (narrowed parts of the road resulting from traffic islands, or resulting from on-street parking.

    When drivers stop acting as if they own the road will they deserve any respect. Of course I see some bad cycling, but for every bad cyclist I see several examples of appallingly bad and often dangerous driving.

  • smig

    Hang on . are you saying a 4×4 driving “gastro pub” bloke is a tw@t