Or to look at it another way the unfair aspect is more down to the rights that walkers have gained in the first place. Arguably unfairly both in respect to other users and even against the wishes of the landowners. This wasn't something done as an act of kindness it was done through an act of civil disobedience.
Biting our tongues and keeping off them to avoid giving us a bad name any further does nothing other than keep the situation as it is. Some walkers will remain hating bikes. They moan about them when they see a bike off on a side trail that they never walk on. They moan when they're on legal cycle paths far away from the walkers. They just moan about bikes.
That won't change unless we do something about it.
Problem is many walkers are influential and some are in positions of power. All we've got on our side is Boris! (and that's just road bikes).
if it's called a FOOTpath then people on foot do not expect it to be used by MTBers or horsists, even if they are permitted by some legal/civil technicality (that most people aren't aware of, so may as well not exist).
It's the grant of a right, but does not imply everything else is denied. It doesn't require walkers to be aware of a specific local bylaw or technicality, it just requires them to understand what Public Footpath means. All they need to know is it gives them a right to walk there. Nothing else. They have no idea if a bike can or cannot be there. That's down to the land owner.
I refer back again to The Hurtwood. "More than 90 years ago, Reggie Bray, Lord of the Manor of Shere, granted the public a ‘right to roam’ with ‘open access for air and exercise’ on the Hurtwood – one of the first estates in England to do so. This set a pioneering example of a landowner welcoming the public on to his land and finding a way of working with the public that would benefit both the land and the people. Open access is available to bird watchers, dog walkers, horseback riders, mountain bikers and anyone who enjoys the fresh air!"
This is advertised fairly well, and most people are aware of it and happy with it, even though there are assigned Public Footpaths on the land, which again are still free access to bikes (with a couple of exceptions that are clearly marked).
What I like about the area is usually everyone gets on with each other, walkers chatting and joking with bikers and others. There are some moaners of course, but they're the ones that get their name in the papers having rants, not the ones actually out enjoying the countryside.