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Portland, OR, 97209


Fixed gear foolishness

James Kellerman

Today a judge in Oregon ruled that fixed gear bikes without brakes are against the law. The proceedings of the case are actually quite amusing. I particularly like the defense lawyer, Ginsberg, questioning of the arresting officer.
Ginsberg (to Officer Barnum): “When you approached the rider did she stop?” Officer Barnum: “Yes.” Ginsberg: “How’d she stop the bike?” Officer Barnum: “I don’t know.” Ginsberg: “The gear itself stopped the bike.” Officer Barnum: “But the gear is not a brake.”
The appropriate statue reads
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 tire.
Fixed gear riders can definitely do this so I can't see the legal argument for finding the defendant guilty as the judge did. Personally I think its pretty silly to ride without caliper brakes, but thats got nothing to do with the law. I am back to riding fixed now, which is really fun in a slightly scary learning to ride again way, but there is no way I am taking off my brakes. More on the court case here, and some lively debate in the comments section.