Threat to 'nail' cyclists sparks anger

BY GLENN CONWAY
Last updated 05:00 27/01/2010
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ALL DOWNHILL: A cyclist rides past the Sign of the Takahe on Dyers Pass Rd, co-owned by Richard Freeman, right. Freeman has said in an online forum he would "nail" cyclists.

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A Christchurch businessman's online threats to target cyclists in his Hummer has reignited a row between motorists and cyclists.

Sign of the Takahe restaurant co-owner Richard Freeman told an online forum he would "nail" cyclists and challenged "anyone wearing Spandex and shaved legs to get to my front door unharmed".

Freeman, who lives near the narrow, winding Dyers Pass Rd in Cashmere, said he drove "a black H2 Hummer and have put 2 [cyclists] into the curb over the last 6 months".

He later said the comments were tongue-in-cheek.

His comments were transferred to sport website Vorb, where they attracted more than 500 comments, both for and against.

Cyclists spoken to yesterday said Freeman was inflaming a sensitive issue.

Freeman did not return calls yesterday.

A restaurant manager said he had fielded several abusive and threatening phone calls.

Freeman agreed to appear on TV3's Campbell Live on Monday, but pulled out on his lawyer's advice.

In an email to the programme, Freeman said: "To seriously think that I would run a cyclist off the road is absolutely ludicrous and absurd! I would suggest that the small handful of over-precious Lance Armstrong wannabes look to purchase a sense of humour, rather than the next Spandex body suit, and perhaps show the general motorists a little road courtesy as well."

Spokes Canterbury spokesman Robin Delamore said Freeman's views were "almost pathological".

"They [the comments] may have been made in jest, but the problem is it incites others ... It's something we take a dim view of."

Spokes has about 1300 members who are a mix of road cyclists and mountainbikers.

Veteran cyclist Graeme Milner, 80, said most cyclists respected other traffic, but there were "always one or two who give us a bad name".

The Christchurch City Council was unable to say if it had any plans to widen Dyers Pass Rd or make it safer for cyclists.

Canterbury road policing manager Inspector Al Stewart said Freeman's comments were unacceptable but not illegal.

He said most motorists and cyclists were tolerant of each other, but some would "always have differences".

Police had not received any complaints from cyclists about incidents involving Freeman's vehicle.

ONLINE COMMENTS

"What a tosser."

"I think the point needs to be made that 99.9 per cent of cyclists want the same rights as a motorist and the privileges of a pedestrian – all at the same time. I think it's funny he said that – I'd love to too!"

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"Sharing the road is a two-way thing."

"How crass. And he owns the Sign of the Takahe? To use his vernacular, I'm afraid he's just nailed the brand."

"Freeman is just venting and he's allowed to. Cyclists annoy me too at times."

"I suggest a course of anger management and a trip to the shrink to discuss his feelings of inadequacy."

- The Press

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