Sunday, August 20, 2006

oregon's laws need fixing

A cop routinely pulls over a messenger on a fixie and cites her for riding without brakes. She goes to court to prove that a fixed gear bike’s drive train, combined with the power of her own legs are a brake, able to satisfy the requirements of the law. You must be able to skid the braked wheel on dry level pavement.

In the case that all fixie riders have been waiting for, the judge rules the defendant guilty and an appeal is prepared.

Listen to the podcast or
go to Bikescape in itunes

We speak with lawyer Ray Thomas who's working on collecting material for an appeal. As a part of their work, they produced this publication on bike law.

Dan Kaufman made this film of Ayla stopping her bike as well as a bike with a coaster brake.

What other type of bike makes sport of stopping and standing still?

Also, we remember two leaders of the forty year old and still ongoing San Francisco freeway revolt, Sue Bierman and Patricia Walkup. Both died in the last few weeks.


Anonymous said...

Riding bikes without breaks is a not only for the rider but for the others too. There were many accidents where were implicated bikes and cars or other vehicles and the victims are numerous. It does not worth to try that only for your distraction.

jon said...

Whether or not to use a brake on a fixed gear bike is, as I said in the show, a separate matter. It takes a while, in my case over a year, to learn to ride fixed well enough to not use the brake. Anyone would be crazy to pick up a fixie and ride brakeless right away. And, as I also said in the show, there are times when I think about attaching a brake, such as when friends lead me down some of the steeper San Francisco hills. In those instances, I simply walk to the bottom.

That said, the legal argument is that fixed gear bikes can stop as quickly without a traditional brake as a freewheel bike can and, since they can skid the tire, they fulfill the letter and spirit of the law.

As for danger to others, I have only heard of one pedestrian fatality caused by a bike in the last few years. (Don't quote me! I could be wrong!) It happened in Boston and the backlash resulted in Messengers being reqired to display license numers on their bikes. Don't know if the bike was a fixie or not...

Anonymous said...

This is not fair. the judges should understand and allow some space for freedom. At least ladies should have that freedom :)

Anonymous said...

I think it's ridiculous reckess and rude to think of ride a bike without a braking mechanism on each wheel (as required here in the UK by law).

Think about the physics. Brakeless fixies can only apply braking force to the rear wheel, which is much much less effective than a brake on the front wheel. If you don't believe me, check out what Sheldon Brown has to say on the matter:

Riding a bike without brakes is akin to driving a car without brakes and saying, 'no man, it's cool, i can slow down by changing gears, and using the hand/parking brake to stop'. What a moronic attitude.

Buffalo Bill, with more than two decades of experience as a bike messenger on the streets of London summarises the arguments succintly on his zine:

If you want to ride without brakes, go to the track. If you're on the streets, respect the safety of others and don't be so antisocial.

recursive said...

What do you think of coaster brakes then?