Man behind Facebook comment Green MP Julie Anne Genter considered threatening says it was 'a joke'

The man behind a Facebook comment Green MP Julie Anne Genter considered to be threatening says it was "a joke" and "a flippant remark". 

Genter on Thursday re-tweeted a screenshot of a threatening Facebook comment in which she was described as "loony".

"I saw The loony Genter on the cycleway a few months ago. I was in my car. I had a good go, but I missed her. Almost 100 points," the comment said in the now-deleted section of a post by Empire Cinema and Eatery. 

In her re-tweet, Genter said: "Today (like most days) I got to work & dropped my 3-year-old at daycare on a bicycle. I will be 38 weeks pregnant on Friday.

"I know this isn't an option for everyone. But surely I shouldn't have my life threatened for taking up less space than a car."

Genter added: "How deranged is our transport system when the idea of changing it inspires such violent reactions towards people simply for not using a car?

"Using less resources, creating less traffic & no pollution, taking fewer car parks, making less noise is bad?"

The man who wrote the Facebook comment, former National Infrastructure Advisory Board member Matthew Birch, says he never actually saw Genter riding her bike and never meant to make her feel threatened.

"This was a joke," he told Newshub. "I have never seen Genter on the road on her bike while I have been driving. I always give cyclists plenty of room and would never deliberately endanger a cyclist. Unfortunately this joke was grabbed by a cycling fanatic and reposted."

Birch said he was frustrated about the proposed Island Bay cycleway, which on Wednesday the Wellington City Council attempted to make a decision on for the 13th time. 

"I used to have coffee every Friday at the Empire, and loved the fact that I could park very close. You see, I cannot ride a bike for health reasons, and cannot get a bus from where I live, because I'm unable to walk more than 100 metres or so because of that health condition," Birch said. 

"There was no bus stop near where I live with a regular service, so I am compelled to use my car and need to be able to find a car park near my destination. The anti-car lobby was progressively making it more difficult for me. I have now left Wellington because it was becoming more and more difficult."

Birch expressed regret for the Facebook post causing Genter alarm. 

"I believe this has become a storm in a teacup resulting in a flippant remark that was a joke, and I thought it was only being seen by my Facebook friends."

Explaining the context of his "almost 100 points" remark, Birch said it was "an old joke about knocking over people". 

"A points system depending on who you knock over... Very flippant in this context."

Wellington City Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons acknowledged in an opinion piece published by Stuff on Wednesday that the Island Bay cycleway issue is controversial. 

"Even cyclists, who it was aimed at, were unimpressed and raised safety concerns. In short, it pleased no-one and shocked many," she wrote. 

"It divided the Island Bay community and even some families. There are friendships which have never recovered."

Genter, a cycling advocate who served as Associate Transport Minister in the previous administration, is all for it. 

"It's important that local leaders, like the council, do not stop what they're doing because of a minority of people who are arguing for the status quo," she said in May. 

"The minority is very loud and very angry, and they tend to get a lot more air time."

Patrick Morgan from Cycling Action Network said threatening language is no joke.

"It's never ok to threaten harm. I'm shocked when people publicly suggest they will run someone over," he told Newshub. "Pretending it was a joke is the act of a coward."