Monday, August 14, 2006

Bikes without brakes??? Senator Atkinson thinks it's OK

The Oregonian--
and related story
"Fixie", a form of one speed racing bike with fixed gears and where the petals continually rotate while the wheels are in motion. These bicycles do not come with brakes and rely on the bicyclist to resist the forward motion of the petals with their legs and stop by backpedaling. E.g. you cannot coast.
" I asked they feel a lot more confident writing a fixed gear because your control over the bike is so much stronger," said Ayla Holland, 24, Portland bike messenger "
As these bicycles gain popularity, they run into issues with Oregon law which says that bicycles "must be equipped with a break that enables the operator to make the brake wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement." While the law does not define what a break is, it only defines how it works.
" It seemed to me it was a relatively simple issue," Circuit Court Judge Pro Tem Gregg Lowe said Friday in an interview. "A rose is a rose is a rose. A brake is a brake is a brake. And feet or musculature aren't brakes. "

Sam Adams, the Portland commissioner in charge of the city's office of transportation , said he has asked the city's attorney to review the law to see where the Portland police were properly applying it. "My advice to people is to get hand brakes," said Adams. "I think it is an added margin of safety."

State Senator Jason Atkinson says he's coming to the aid of bicyclist upset about the judge's ruling that riders a fixed gear bikes must have conventional brakes. He told BikePortland.org that he intends to fix this "ridiculous problem" by changing the law.
personally, I like my bikes to have brakes. My suggestion would be for the "fixies" to have brakes available, and it would be up to the bicyclist at the time which brakes they decide to use.

13 Comments:

Blogger Bob said...

Sounds like a small government issue to me. If folks want to be organ donors, I ain't gonna stop them.

7:05 AM  
Blogger jeff said...

Adding hand brakes would seem a minor thing. And who knows... one of these days a "fixie" might like having them... to keep them from going through a windshield.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Scottiebill said...

Judging by Atkinson's left-handed (pun intended)thinking about bikes not having brakes, it looks as though it was a good thing that he got beat out in the Oregon governor primary election. Who would want someone with such acrewball thinking in as governor?

And anyone who rides a bike without brakes has fallen off his bike a few too many times while not wearing a helmet.

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't Sam Adams a brewer? How did he get to be in charge of transportation issues? I would say if you are over 18, you can crash all you want as long as nobody else gets hurt. Next step is to require liability insurance for bike riders.

10:24 AM  
Blogger MAX Redline said...

I did a blog about that the other day:

Only In Multnomah County
A lot of the bicycle messengers in downtown Portland use fixed-gear cycles. They're nimble and easy to use (not to mention less attractive to thieves, who generally want to go after the high-end, multi-gear things).

Oh, what's a fixed-gear bike? So glad you asked...you've doubtless seen them before, as stunt-riders use them a lot. In a fixed-gear, the pedals go 'round constantly, as the wheels go 'round. No coasting on one of these puppies; it's all pedal-power. Which actually is what makes them so nimble. It's also what makes them illegal, as there's no need for brakes. Bikes are classed as "vehicles", and vehicles must have brakes. Period.

So recently a woman was cited for riding a fixed-gear. She was mad enough to take the case to court. And she lost. The judge, during the course of his closing remarks, commented that "...even if you'd carried just a stick to rub against the wheel, you might have had a case...".

Now, all of the bike messengers are carrying a stick in their backpacks, and there's some running commentarry as to which kinds of sticks are best.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Jim in KFalls said...

Another case of liberal government - dictating what people can and can't do and restricting the freedoms of all.

I like people who don't smoke, yet I'm not going to start a campaign to prevent everyone from smoking - it is their right. (Lars uses this analogy all the time - how come it shouldn't apply to bicycle riders? - Also for the record - I am not a bicycle rider, I love my GG-SUV.)

Sure a bicycle is considered a vehicle - instead of requiring brakes - just require that the vehicle be able to stop in a given distance. Call it "Safe Driving".

8:23 AM  
Blogger Scottiebill said...

Kfalls Jim: Along with bikes being able to stop in a given distance, they should also be licensed, and, in the case of some of the bike riders I've seen here in the Portland/Vancouver area, the riders should be tested for sanity as well. Not the little kids, but many of the so-called adults who ride them and believe they own the streets and do not have to obey any of the rules of the road.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

most track bikes can not be fitted with external brakes. Brakes require mounts and they are not needed on a track bike since they have a built in brake called a track hub. Just a point to the post who said it was a simple thing to add a brake.

8:24 PM  
Anonymous not broken said...

track bikes can not be fitted with external brakes. Brakes require mounts and they are not needed on a track bike since they have a built in brake called a track hub. Just a point to the post who said it was a simple thing to add a brake.

8:25 PM  
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