Judge finds fault with fixies

August 1st, 2006 / 0 Comments

A bike messenger in Portland was issued a $73 ticket for not having brakes on her fixed gear bike. The law specifically states:

A bicycle must be equipped with a brake that enables the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement. strong enough to skid a tire.

Back when I was a kid I could lock the pedals and drop a skid (from a bike tire) up to 15 feet long, though seldom with criminal intent!

The problem with the law is that skidding is usually an indication of bad braking - as proven by the automotive industries push towards anti-lock brakes. Thus, while a fixed gear meets the legal criteria for correct braking (as my younger days of biking demonstrated), I would argue that the legal criteria for correct braking could be improved descriptively and mechanically.

A safer, and more specific, law would be to require a braking mechanism on both the front and rear tires - which would have the effect of disqualifying brakeless fixed gears where feet don’t come in direct contact with the wheels, and also ensure the utmost safety of both cyclists and pedestrians.

The court report is highly entertaining, particularly where the judge and officer try to understand bike mechanics, is available at bikeportland.org

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