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Burdick axes fixed-gear language from brake bill

Posted by on June 19th, 2007 at 3:32 pm

Senator Ginny Burdick accepted
an Alice Award in March.
(File photo)

In a conference committee in Salem today, Senator Ginny Burdick decided that Senate Bill 729 — which sought to update Oregon’s law regarding bicycle brake requirements — will move forward without a key phrase that would have allowed fixed-gear bicycles to not be required to have a separate brake.

The bill — which had already passed the House and the Senate — initially read,

“A bicycle must be equipped with a brake that enables the operator of the bicycle to stop the bicycle within 15 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement, except that a fixed gear bicycle is not required to be equipped with a separate brake.”

Burdick, a Portland Democrat who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, made it clear today that she was not comfortable with the fixed-gear clarification, even though she has twice voted in favor of the bill while it included that phrase.

According to Portland lawyer Mark Ginsberg, who attended today’s hearing, Burdick told her colleagues in the committee that she would not allow the bill to leave the committee unless that phrase was removed.

fixie bill in Salem
Portland lawyer Mark Ginsberg
testified in support of the bill last March
(File photo)

This last minute change is a huge blow to Ginsberg, who has worked with southern Oregon Senator Jason Atkinson to clarify the law.

“It’s disappointing to me that one person (Burdick) can trip up the entire process, especially in light of the fact that she changed her position on the bill, then used procedural maneuvers to squash it.”
–Portland lawyer Mark Ginsberg

Back in August, Atkinson vowed to clear up confusion about fixed-gear bicycles back in August, when he heard about Portland cyclists being ticketed for not having a separate hand brake on their fixed-gear bicycles, despite conflicting traffic court rulings on the issue.

Ginsberg, who has been involved with this issue since defending bike messenger Ayla Holland against a fixed-gear brake ticket in July of last year, says he’s “disappointed” with Burdick’s move.

Speaking on the phone from Salem today he said,

“I’m disappointed because the language that’s been problematic is still there…so we’ve spent a lot of time and taxpayer dollars and telling our elected officials what’s important to us and we still haven’t fixed the problem. We’re exactly where we were before all this started.

It’s disappointing to me that one person (Burdick) can trip up the entire process especially in light of the fact that she changed her position, then used procedural maneuvers to squash it. I expect we’ll be working with her in the future…but it seemed like we were there already.”

Burdick says she takes full responsibility for what happened to the fixed-gear portion of this bill, and that she is not “anti-fixie”. She told me her change of heart was mainly, “just second thoughts,”

“After it initially went through, I had a lot of reservations…my own daughter (who works at River City Bicycles in Portland) rides fixies on the velodrome. She jumped on me pretty hard and said there were a lot of people on fixies who really don’t know what they’re doing, so changing the standard across the board would not be a good idea.”

Burdick says she realizes that a problem remains, but that she thought the solution “is more complex” than she had time to deal with,

“…I’m certainly not anti-fixie…what I’d like to do is deal with the fixie issue on its own, in a more deliberate way. I think what we did today, by getting more of a performance standard, might help, but I’m not pretending we solved that problem. I take full responsibility for this and perhaps we should have spent more time on this in committee.”

For Burdick, it comes down to a safety issue,

“My first priority is safety so I think this issue needs more deliberation. You really have to find a way to allow the bikes for the people who know what they’re doing, but if you don’t have something that’s kind of tangible (in the law), it’s very hard to enforce it…that’s my struggle here.

I feel guilty for all this, so I’ll try twice as hard to deal with this issue next time it comes up.”

The committee held today was comprised of Senators Atkinson, Burdick, and Roger Beyer (R-Mollala) and Representatives Tobias Read (D-Beaverton), Greg McPherson (D-Lake Oswego), and Kevin Cameron (R-Salem).

According to Ginsberg the fixed-gear language had strong support from four members of the committee — Read, Macpherson, Atkinson, and Cameron — but as Chair of the committee, Burdick has final word in this situation.


For complete coverage of this issue, visit my Fixed Gear Ruling archives.

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Comments
  • Qwendolyn June 19, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    There is more to this than meets the eye.

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  • jay June 19, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    thats ridiculous. too many kids are getting bullshit tickets.

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  • West Cougar June 19, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    This is the disgusting arrogance of Congress critters on display. Ginny\’s uncomfortable with something, so low and behold, the rest of the world must bow to her wisdom. People can\’t be trusted to make decisions for themselves of their own free will. We have to have the govt telling what is best.

    How many deaths have we had from fixed gear cyclists unable to stop in time? How many deaths have we had from distracted car drivers failing to yield? Which problem does Ginny condescend to personally solve?

    Thanks for absolutely nothing.

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  • West Cougar June 19, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    \”There is more to this than meets the eye.\”

    Yep. Nothing is an accident by politicians at her level. She had this planned all along.

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  • josh m June 19, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    It\’s awesome that our local government all vote for this to pass and ONE person can say, \’eh… nahhhh\’ even after they agree with it twice before?!

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  • felix June 19, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Maybe Tektro Brake Company made a large campaign donation ;)

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  • West Cougar June 19, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    Clearly Ginny was for it before she was against it.

    Ginny Burdick, profile in courage.

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  • John Boyd June 19, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    The bicycle must be equipped with a brake that enables the operator of the bicycle to stop the bicycle within 15
    feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement, except that a fixed gear bicycle is not required to be
    equipped with a separate brake.

    As one who has the pleasure of receiving a ticket for braking with only the aid of a fixed gear, I do not believe we want a specific exception written into statute.

    This exception seems to contradict my successfully argued position that a fixed gear itself is a brake is anything used to restrain motion. I would much rather the existing law be enforced and adjudicated rationally. The fixed gear is specifically considered a brake in Britain and other US local statutes.

    As far as what Ginny was thinking, I have no idea other than the word \”except\” just feels very wrong. If something has to be added, then \”additionally, fixed gear bicycle is not required to be equipped with a separate brake.\” seems less wrong.

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  • Jonathan Maus / BikePortland June 19, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Folks, I just hung up with Ginny Burdick.

    I am typing up a response and thoughts from her right now. Please consider holding your comments until you read them.

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  • BURR June 19, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    there\’s no point to this legislation without the fixed gear language? I offer my own altered version below, which corrects for everything:

    “A bicycle operator must be able to stop their bicycle within 15 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement.”

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  • Cecil June 19, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Here\’s the only problem with having the language considered and then removing it from the eventually enacted bill: under the Oregon courts\’ approach to statutory construction, the first thing the court looks to is the language of the statute. Here, the statute states (and as amended would still state) that a bike must be \”equipped with a brake.\” That indicates a separate part made for the sole purpose of braking the bike, as opposed to a method of braking based on the set-up of the drive train. In most cases in which the text of the statute is not helpful, we ask the court to look to the legislative history. In this case, this is where we run into more trouble, because the argument can now be made that the legislature considered making an exception for fixies and explicitly chose NOT to . . .

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  • John Boyd June 19, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Cecil,
    \”equipped with a brake.\” That indicates a separate part made for the sole purpose of braking the bike, as opposed to a method of braking based on the set-up of the drive train.
    It may very well indicate that to you and officer Balzer, however to the dictionary, it does not.
    The M-W definition of equipped is \”to provide with what is useful, necessary or appropriate\”. I like to think my non-redundantly-braked FG meets all three there. A caliper brake on a FG maybe meets two of those three.

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  • West Cougar June 19, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    I stand by my statement, Ginny thinks citizens can\’t be trusted to make their own rational decisions. Govt must intervene to protect us from ourselves. And yet I ask again, if this is such a problem, where are the dead fixie riders?

    But hey Ginny feels really bad. And feelings count for a lot so don\’t be mean. And she takes full responsibility. What her \”responsibility\” is worth I have no idea.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis June 19, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    Jonathan, I assume the quotes you have from Burdick above are the response you refer to in #9, above. Anyway, here goes:

    Sadly, Ms Burdick has abdicated her most basic responsibility to the people of Oregon by failing to adequately inform herself to vote on an issue before her in her representative capacity. Her admission that she has based her vote on the statements of one person, a relative, demonstrates that she lacks necessary understanding of the proper techniques for developing a legislative record and of the types of information that are appropriately relied upon in forming such a record. If there were such a thing as \”legislative malpractice,\” Ms Burdick would be a textbook case. Unfortunately, the only way to check this abuse of legislative power is to vote against Ms Burdick at the next available opportunity.

    But Ms Burdick does not stop there. She compounds her ineptitude by exposing the fixie-riders of Portland to continued risk of citation from an overzealous and misguided police force despite an uttler lack of evidence that fixies have been responsible for any stopping-related safety problems.

    Please consider writing Ms Burdick and explaining to her that there was ample opportunity for deliberation on this issue and that her failure to adequately prepare for her comittee\’s business is not an appropriate reason for delaying justice, especially when a majority of the committee members support the measure.

    While you\’re at it, please consider writing Mark Ginsberg and thanking him for all his many months of hard work on this issue, work that threatens to be undone by the self-indulgent actions of a single privileged dilettante.

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  • PdxMark June 19, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    I think Cecil is right. This sequence of events makes it almost as hard as possible to argue that a fixed gear bike without a separate brake is legal. With the legislature having explicitly deleted language that would have made an \”exception\” for fixed gear bikes, a court would likely interpret the new brake law as implicitly requiring that fixies have a separate brake. I think this is one step forward, two steps back, folks.

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  • PdxMark June 19, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    Follow-up thought … A veto might even be better than this definition getting signed into law…

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  • Spencer June 19, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Because of the emotionality of the previous responses, I\’ll probably get a lot of crap for this but I would rather she be conservative on the side of safety. Her discussion of un-experienced riders seemed valid and the down side is that all the experienced people have to have to install a hand brake that only weighs a few ounces.

    How does the addition of one brake change the feel the ride or the experience? Is it just the aesthetic? I am not being flippant. I just want to know.

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  • Cecil June 19, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    John (Post #12) – I don\’t dispute the meaning of equipped, neither am I implying that you can\’t stop your bike just as well without a redundant caliper brake (actually, I don\’t really care as long as you stop your bike at stop signs and don\’t run red lights, but I digress) – the point I was making was had to do with the reference to \”a brake\” in conjunction with \”equipped.\” I\’ve spent enough years arguing with the Court of Appeals as to the meaning of statutes to have a pretty good idea that they would translate \”a brake\” as meaning a part that serves no purpose other than to stop the bike. I\’d probably have a better chance of convincing them that a stick attached to my downtube with a pump strap meets the statutory requirement than a fixie does . . . but hey, the only way to find out for sure is for someone to take their case all the way up. Until then, or until there is a legislative fixie fix, we\’ll all just have to fight it out on a case-by-case basis. Actually, not all of us, just the folks on fixies – but all of us can continue to work on the legislature to resolve the issue.

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  • West Cougar June 19, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    Spencer, her discussion of unexperienced riders is a hypothetical unsupported by any data. It is the old fear, uncertainty and doubt argument.

    As for the \”experience\” it is not for Ginny to decide, in a country that values liberty it is the cyclist\’s decision.

    Finally, Ginny had adequate opportunity to address all this previously. She did not. She made the entire legislative process irrelevent to her personal and arbitrary perogative. All citizens should be outraged regardless of their opinion on the fixed brake issue.

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  • SKiDmark June 19, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    I fixed gear hub IS A BRAKE. You can slow down and STOP the bike with it, therefore it is a brake.

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  • SKiDmark June 19, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    I want to know if there has been any communication between Ginny Burdick and that one Judge and those two Cops.

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  • Sasha June 19, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    Senator,

    I am very disappointed with you decision to kill the language surrounding fixed gear brakes on the recent committee vote for Senate Bill 729. Given your previous support of said language, and sudden shift it is difficult to believe that you were adequately educated on, or prepared to make decisions about this matter.

    That of course is a good reason to vote no, or delay voting. However, this matter has received plenty of testimony and explanation on the part of the sponsoring parties and the fact that you were still unprepared displays only one thing to me: poor leadership.

    The simple fact is that law abiding citizens are being punished daily by the Portland Police with unnecessary traffic enforcement actions that specifically target fixed gear bicyclists. Portland is far from the only city that has fixed gear riders, yet is indeed nearly the only city handing out punitive action for it. People aren\’t dying in the streets, or even being hurt in any significant number due to fixed gear bikes. People aren\’t incapable of riding these bikes, in fact quite the opposite is true. It takes great care to ride a fixed gear, and if anything it makes you more aware of your surroundings.

    There are only two things going on, excessive enforcement by the Portland Police of an ambiguously written law, and your failure to prepare. The first is understandable, but the latter punishes your constituents unfairly. Please do us all a favor and educate yourself quickly so that this matter can be resolved post haste.

    Anything else is wasting not only our tax dollars but unfortunately our traffic court tolerance as well.

    Sincerely,

    S

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  • rixtir June 19, 2007 at 5:48 pm

    In my opinion, the fixed gear \”fix\” was poorly thought out to begin with. A proper \”fix\” would have cleaned up the definition of \”brake\” to one that makes sense. Adding an exemption for fixed gears doesn\’t do that, it just makes an exemption for one class of bikes without overhauling the statute, when the brake statute itself should be overhauled.

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  • rixtir June 19, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    My bad– My opinion in post 23 was poorly thought out. ;)

    Actually, after checking just now, the proposed statute addressed the problems in the current brake statute very well.
    Whether the fixed gear exception was a good of bad fix– i.e., whether a fixed gear should be defined as a brake, or as an exception to the rule– is a different matter.

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  • John Boyd June 19, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    Cecil (18), I agree that a brake is commonly understood to mean a mechanism that serves no other purpose than to slow movement. and well stated.
    The irony/beauty is that for such a simple mechanism, the fixed gear bicycle itself has not been commonly understood since ca. 1899. Certainly not commonly understood once the freewheel and dérailleur became ubiquitous. Understanding kinda seems to be coming back however.

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  • josh m June 19, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    The opinion on a employee of river city about fixed gears holds little water for me. The only fixed gears river city carries are low end(Pistas and langsters). The majority of those going in to purchase those fixed gears are unexperienced.
    (hence their choice in \”track\” bikes).

    This is just complete bullshit.

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  • Disco D June 19, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    I think everyone has pretty much already said what I would have…

    Except, I bet her daughter is not popular right now. I really bet she wishes her mom would have left her out of her comments on this…

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  • SKiDmark June 19, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    Cecil, what about a coasterbrake? It is as much a drive mechanism as it is a brake mechanism. Oh yeah, so is a fixed gear hub.

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  • Martha S. June 19, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    Damn it, if she feels like the language is not clear enough, or specific enough, why doesn\’t she clarify it instead of just axing it? That little phrase was, originally, the whole point of the bill!

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  • Cecil June 19, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    SKiDmark – as you just pointed out, it could well be argued that a coaster brake is not a \”brake\” as would come within the letter of the law – thus making my Schwinn Heavi-Duty suspect. Again, perhaps another reason to work toward statutory language that focuses on the ability to stop within a set distance, and not the method by which it is accomplished.

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  • rixtir June 19, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    You know, she does represent more than just fixed gear riders. She does have a responsibility to all of her constituents, and if she feels that the language is a bad idea, whether she\’s right or wrong, she has a responsibility to her constituents to exercise her judgment.

    It\’s not as if she\’s alone, or uninformed in that judgment, either. Sheldon Brown himself says fixed gear bikes shouldn\’t be ridden without brakes on the road, and should only be ridden without brakes on the track. In his own words:

    \”Some fixed-gear riders ride on the road without brakes. This is a bad idea. I know, I\’ve tried it. If you do it, and have any sense of self-preservation at all, it will cause you to go much slower than you otherwise could, everytime you go through an intersection, or pass a driveway. The need for constant extra vigilance takes a great deal of the fun out of cycling.\”

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/fixed.html

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  • SKiDmark June 19, 2007 at 8:49 pm

    Sheldon Brown is also admitting that he does not have that much experience riding fixed without a handbrake, and as it has been stated before it takes a great deal of practice to learn to ride safe without a handbrake on a fixed gear bike. It is best to have a handbrake until you don\’t use it anymore, even in emergency situations.

    Maybe you should have read the \”fixed gear testimonials\” too.

    From Kent Peterson :

    \”If you want to go fast, you pedal fast. To go slow, you pedal slow. When you stop, it stops.

    How are the hills? Really fun to go up, really a workout coming down. I am the engine and the brakes. Yeah, there\’s a little I-know-it\’s-Shimano-but-the-105-is-still-a-nice-brake up front but the big brakes are my quads and my kneecaps working to slow those big wheels down. And in one instant I have to be strong and in one instant I have to be fast and always I have to be paying attention. This is riding. This is a bicycle that teaches me something every time I ride it, that makes me more by virtue of it\’s being less. It\’s the bike I ride until the street lights come on and sometimes even longer. It\’s the bike I put away sadly and take out joyfully. It\’s the bike that never forgets why we ride.\”

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  • spaz June 19, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    It seems like Ginny changed her mind after talking with her niece. Does this certain River City employee know how many people she\’s just made very angry?

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  • SKiDmark June 19, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    I actually prefer the law without the fixed gear verbage. As far as I am concerned a fixed gear functions as a brake by meeting the existing performance standard, and the new performance standard.

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  • BURR June 19, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    it\’s not the law it\’s how it\’s interpreted

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  • rixtir June 19, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    SKiDmark,

    Post 30:

    So how does the law differentiate between somebody who has the \”great deal of practice\” necessary to operate a fixed gear safely without a handbrake, and somebody who has no idea what he or she is doing, but thinks messengers are cool?

    What you are recommending may be great safety advice– to have a handbrake until you don\’t need it anymore, even for emergencies– but how does the law protect the rest of society from somebody who does need a handbrake, but is riding a bike without one?

    Post 31:

    I actually think the language Mark Ginsberg put in there worked really well, as far as making it clear that a separate brake mechanism would be just that– an addition to the braking mechanism of the fixed gear, and thus, unnecessary.

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  • Todd B June 19, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    Ok now…
    1) Write Burdick about issue…

    2) Press Rivercity to not sell or repair any fixed bikes without brakes (or ask rider to meet performance measure in parking lot)

    3) Write the Governor to either veto bill or sign into law with an executive statement (thank Bush 43 for this idea) on what is a brake and how this law would allow a fixie bike sans brake as long as the operator to ride if meeting the performance standard…

    4) Rise and repeat next session if needed.

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  • Todd June 19, 2007 at 11:20 pm

    My letter to Burdick

    \”Senator Burdick,

    I find your abuse of the legislative process completely apauling. Your use of your position as Committee Chair to block Senate Bill 729 even though you previously supported said bill twice just goes to show your consituents your own manipulation so you can \”sleep easy\” at night.

    Referencing your daughter in your decision will not only hurt her employer and possibily cause her to be terminated it shows your and her complete lack of understanding and further supports the injection of governmental oversight into the lives of private citizens. Because your daughter feels its \”unsafe\” and people are \”inexperienced\” then the entire bill should be axed?

    The real danger in the streets its people who do not obey traffic laws, cyclists included. I witness this every day when I cycle to and from NE Portland to Downtown, whether its an SUV today merging into a bike lane to make a right hand turn onto another street (the bike lane has solid stripes meaning its not to be used for right hand turns unless a green light) or the cyclist who blows the stop light. I do not ride a fixie personally but I have had my brake cable snap on a ride. Unless you provide verbage that each bike must have two brakes then a single brake failure on a freewheel or a chain snap on a fixie – the outcome is the same. Most cyclists are very aware of their machines of transportation and notice the smallest changes in the performance of the machine.

    I urge you to reconsider this action since the final outcome is not a representation of the people elected to office by the people.

    Regards,
    \”

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  • Matthew June 19, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    Sheldon Brown\’s point isn\’t just experience/lack of experience riding a fixed gear, it is a matter of physics. An experienced cyclist that knows how to use a front brake without skidding the front tire/going over the handlebars can stop faster than someone who only uses a rear wheel \”brake\” (be that a coaster brake, a hand brake, or a fixed gear,) and that is because when you are braking hard, most of the weight (and therefor, ability to stop your motion,) is on the front tire…

    However, since the law thinks that coaster brakes are safe enough and it doesn\’t actually require that bicyclist know how to use their front brake anyways, that argument isn\’t the one that Burdick is considering…

    (The argument about not drilling a hole in your track bike fork never did anything for me… Most race cars are not allowed on city streets, (at least, not with the same equipment that they would normally be raced with,) so why are track [race] bikes so special?)

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  • Hawthorne June 19, 2007 at 11:52 pm

    I disagree with her opinion but she has a right to it- what I find problematic is her behavior. This behavior from someone who used to work at pr agency Gard & Gerber, who is an experienced politician…and she didn\’t think to talk with some people first (other than her, er, daughter)? She didn\’t think to deal with this before the last minute? Doesn\’t pass the smell test. Can Alice Awards be revoked?

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  • N.I.K. June 20, 2007 at 12:49 am

    If there is any reason to not place our trust in Burdick, it is because she changed her mind based on the opinion of a non-expert relative, rather than on either the demands of the people she represents or empirical evidence. Subject matter aside, the basis for her judgment was piss-poor and should make everyone question her ability to make any sort of informed decision about anything ever again.

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  • pdxcommuter June 20, 2007 at 5:26 am

    Willamette Week speculates that Burdick is running for Sten\’s seat on the city council. See http://www.wweek.com/editorial/3202/6946/

    Could her actions on this bill have something to do with that?

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  • Paul June 20, 2007 at 7:34 am

    If I read this article correctly – only the language: \”except that a fixed gear bicycle is not required to be equipped with a separate brake\” is stripped out. That leaves the 15 feet at 10 mph standard. While a specific exemption for fixies is a loss to some degree – it seems anyone here could make that stop!

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  • Slick June 20, 2007 at 8:16 am

    pdxcommuter: You may be a commuter, but your political memory isn\’t great. Burdick lost to Sten last election. Sten is no longer up for re-election because he beat Burdick.

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  • John Boyd June 20, 2007 at 8:31 am

    Burr (10) and Paul (43) prob have the best solution, make it only a performance std and remove all mention of means and methods.

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  • Case June 20, 2007 at 9:13 am

    Licenses for riding a bicycle are one the horizon for Oregon folks. The \’concerns\’ brought up by Burdick,

    \”My first priority is safety so I think this issue needs more deliberation. You really have to find a way to allow the bikes for the people who know what they’re doing, but if you don’t have something that’s kind of tangible (in the law), it’s very hard to enforce it…that’s my struggle here.\”

    seem to be a precursor to the creation of testing and licensing for bicycle riders. This is a very dangerous situation for Oregon. The bicycle is the last essentially free means of efficient transportation for the masses. Licensing could not be limited to fixed gear bikes and would have to cover all bikes. I am especially disappointed in the huge waste of time and funds this debate has created as well as the \”Democracy be Damned\” attitude of Burdick.

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  • tonyt June 20, 2007 at 9:55 am

    Somebody is NOT going to have a very good day at work. That was pretty bad for the Senator to drop all that on her daughter. Dumb.

    Regarding this action protecting people \”who really don\’t know what they\’re doing.\”

    We\’ve got a law requiring lights and we still have more fashion victims on unlit Schwinns ripping down Hawthorne than we know what to do with.

    Idiots will figure out ways to kill themselves no matter what we do.

    Riding a 70s cruiser with chromed steel rims and rim brakes in the rain for instance. Death on a platter.

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  • SKiDmark June 20, 2007 at 11:05 am

    rixter asked: \”So how does the law differentiate between somebody who has the \”great deal of practice\” necessary to operate a fixed gear safely without a handbrake, and somebody who has no idea what he or she is doing?\”

    Simple. If a person is riding in an unsafe manner or is unable to stop, then give them a ticket for \”no brakes\”. If someone is an experienced messenger who can ride circles around you and stop on a dime and give you a nickel\’s change, let them do their job and keep their whole paycheck. Remember, most of the tickets being given to messengers are not given in conjunction with a ticket for \”failure to stop\” or \”failure to obey a traffic device\” they are just being given after the observation that the bike is not equipped with a handbrake.

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  • SKiDmark June 20, 2007 at 11:20 am

    Matthew, a front brake on a fixed gear bike does not satisfy the law as it is written, because you cannot skid the front wheel on a road bike on \”clean level, dry pavement\”. Yes a front brake is a good idea, and stops a bike better, but a fixed hub stops a bike within the existing performance standard. I\’d be willing to test that out.

    Your race car analogy is weak because most race cars are street machines with stuff like lights stripped off of them for racing. Most race cars are also safer than street cars because they have 4-point restraint harnesses, 6-point rollcages, and onboard fire-extinguishers, not to mention much better brakes. There are plenty of race cars and motorcycles on the street, like SCCA Pro Solo cars, and weekend drag racers. They just put packing tape over their lights when they go racing.

    Drilling a hole in a TRACK fork is a bad idea. The fork crown does not have the extra internal reinforcing sleeve that a road fork has. And unless you find a fork with the same offset and distance from the axle to the fork crown, the handling could be affected adversely.

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  • Anonymous June 20, 2007 at 11:40 am

    Hello all,

    this is the daughter that works at a Portland bike shop. Let me get a few points across:

    1) What I said about brakes on fixies is MY personal opinion, not the official opinion of the bike shop I work for. No matter what happens, leave River City out of this. It is a fabulous bike shop.

    2) I am definitely not an expert on fixies or commuting with fixies. I commute on a freehub bike with brakes. To me it just made sense to require brakes on bikes used for commuting, when fast stops and split second decisions are necessary. Yes, it might be obnoxious for some, but it would provide a handy backup safety measure. Again this is my opinion as a Portland citizen and bike commuter, nothing more.

    3) I hate this process and I hate the insults flying. It was never my intention to be involved. I like bikes, not politics.

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  • Brad June 20, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    Skid – how does law enforcement tell the difference without stopping the rider for a demo? (Constitutional issues!) Are they trained to recognize the difference between messengers, hipsters, and fakengers?

    I once drove 120 MPH on the autobahn without crashing so I should be able to do that velocity on I-5 since I can handle it, right?

    I don\’t agree with Burdick\’s stance but brake / no brake is visually easy for enforcement.

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  • Jonathan Maus / BikePortland June 20, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Hi anonymous daughter of Ginny Burdick,

    I\’m not sure why you say to \”leave River City out of this\”. I have read the comments on this thread very carefully and I don\’t see anyone referring to River City in a negative way.

    I have also examined the comments closely for any insults, as I have very little to no tolerance for them. Again, I have not found any comments that I feel are inappropriate. If I have missed one, please point it out and I will consider moderating it as necessary.

    Thanks.

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  • rixtir June 20, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    SKiDmark, post 48:

    Yes, I thoughtabout this afterwards last night. It boils down to the cops stopping fixie riders without brakes and ticketing them, or the cops stopping fixie riders without brakes and requiring them to perform a braking test. Obviously, some fixie riders will pass the test with flying colors, and maybe that\’s the way oit should be. Keep in mind that cops can still harass you by stopping you whenever they see you riding without a separate brake and demanding a performance test, but for those of you who can meet that test, at least you won\’t be paying a fine.

    For everybody who\’s complaining about ow \”undemocratic\” Senator Burdick\’s action was…

    One of the prime functions of a legislator is to deliberate. Would any of you be happier with legislators who didn\’t deliberate during the legislative process? Would any of you be happier with legislators who, once making a decision, refuse to ever reconsider their decisions, no matter how wrong those decsions are?

    Oh, the horrors, democracy has been slain!

    What a bunch of drama queens….

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  • rixtir June 20, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    Brad, Post 51 has nailed it: It\’s the difference between a visual check and stopping everybody for a performance test. Some people (law enforcment most likely) prefer the visual check, some people (brakeless fixie riders most likely) prefer the stop and performance test.

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  • Cecil June 20, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Jonathan, I think that Ginny\’s daughter may have been referring to Todd\’s open letter to Sen Burdick (post #38) in which he wrote \”Referencing your daughter in your decision will not only hurt her employer and possibily cause her to be terminated[.]\”

    Frankly, I didn\’t know then, or now, what Todd meant, unless he believes that there is some plan to boycott RCB (which would be absurd, since RCB had nothing to do with the issue) or try and get the senator\’s daughter fired by RCB simply because she voiced a personal opinion to her mother (which would again be absurd). Anyway, that\’s my guess at what the senator\’s daughters\’s RCB reference was about . . .and she\’s right, the shop should be left out of it.

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  • SKiDmark June 20, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    Brad- the Police need to wait for someone to actually make a moving violation like failure to stop. That is how they tell the difference between a \”posuer\” and an experienced rider, by their actiions, not their looks.

    You bring up an interesting point about being able to recognise riders, as a messenger friend of mine told me that a certain motorcycle cop will spot him a few blocks over or down and then make his way up the street to pop him for \”no brakes\”. No other moving violation, just being there, being known, and being an easy target.

    The thing is that when an officer approaches a so-called brakeless rider, and asks them to stop, and they do so in a safe and controlled manner, the have already passed a \”performance test\” by simply stopping for the Police. To then be issued a ticket for \”no brakes\” AFTER STOPPING is flat out harassment, considering you just showed the abiltiy to stop, therefore confirming the presence of a brake.

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  • N.I.K. June 20, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    One of the prime functions of a legislator is to deliberate.

    Certainly. Though don\’t you agree that said legislator\’s deliberation should be a well-informed and methodical process, rather than talking to one person and completely reversing their previous position based on that one person\’s unsubstantiated opinion?

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  • rixtir June 20, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    N.I.K.

    I\’d be suspicious if that one person was handing out campaign cash. I wouldn\’t be suspicious if that one person was voicing an opinion. Suppose there was an anti-cyclist bill in the legislature, and you personally changed one Senator\’s mind. Should we all outraged? Or should we all conmsider that to be democracy in action?

    And really, N.I.K., Sheldon Brown is about as well-informed on fixed gears and any other type of bicycle as one can get, and he doesn\’t think they belong on the street without brakes either.

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  • Scott Bricker, BTA June 20, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    For all you seething fixie riders, you should know that you may be close to losing a top bicycle ally in the Senate. Senator Burdick has been a staunch supporter of bicycling, and the following bills have moved at her request through her committee:

    - Passing on the Right
    - Leaving the Bike Lane
    - Safe Routes to School
    - Vulnerable Roadway User
    - Pedestrian Hand Signal
    - Stop and Stay Stopped
    - Fixie Bill / Brake update.

    I have two main recommendations:
    1) Don\’t cut off your nose to spite your face. This warning advises you not to act out revenge in such a way as to damage yourself more than the object of your anger. In your slandering of Senator Burdick and her family you may loose the top avenue for passing bicycle legislation in the Senate. And if that happens, you’d be cutting off the noses of all cyclists. Plus this bill is an improvement on the current law, it makes bikes with front-only brakes legal, vetoing it would be plain stupid and a really really bad political strategy.

    2) Politics is not always fun, but you must try again next time. If you recall Jonathan’s past post the fixie bill was actually voted down by the entire Senate. As the Chair of the Conference Committee, Senator Burdick has the prerogative to move or kill the bill. That simple. But she clearly stated that she would roll up her sleeves on this issue next session. So while you are not all happy, I urge you to use your energy positively, telling the Senator that you were disappointed with the result and that you look forward to supporting a bill and robust discussion in February 2008.

    Your blasting and fast-talking my burn you harder than you think. I recommend that you get more “political” and less personal if you want to see your interests met.

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  • SKiDmark June 20, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    Sheldon Brown has also run Biopace (oval) chainrings on fixed gear bikes and claims it won\’t throw a chain. He also does some fairly dodgy stem extensions and builds home-made tandems, which from my own freakbike building abilities and knowledge may not be the safest things on the roads. The stuff he builds, that is, not my bikes.

    Sheldon Brown is a smart man, but he is opinionated and a touch eccentric (like a Biopace chainring).

    I have great respect for the man and the database he has assembled. I read all the fixed gear stuff when I built my first fixed gear bike. Most of my Schwinn knowledge and what I know about Viscount/Lambert bikes came from his site. I don\’t know how many times I have refered someone to http://www.sheldonbrown.com when they request info about bikes. I still think he is way off-base on this assertion that a fixed needs an additional brake, and this come from what EXPERIENCED street fixed riders have told and shown me. You all wish you could ride half as good as messengers like Dabby, NerF, Sharkey, etc. and I aspire to. I would take riding advise from actual fixed riders that are accustomed to riding a fixed without a handbrake before I would take it from someone who tried to ride a bike like that once and didn\’t like it. You also have to consider the liability issue of a Bike Shop advising the general public to ride fixed without a handbrake, as obviously someone inexperienced could get hurt.

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  • SKiDmark June 20, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    This whole thing could be sorted out by simply defining what constitutes a braking device.

    Braking Devices:

    1.Caliper brake-side pull, center pull, cantilever, v-brake, u-brake.

    2.Disc Brake (technically this is still a caliper brake)

    3.Drum Brake

    4.Coasterbrake

    5.Fixed Hub

    There is existing precedent in European Union legislature that defines a fixed hub as an acceptable braking device. If you want a USA example here is the recently amended Washington DC law:

    \”1204.1 Each bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which enables the operator to cause the braked wheels to skid on dry, level, clean pavement; provided, that a fixed gear bicycle is not required to have a separate brake, but an operator of a fixed gear bicycle shall be able to stop the bicycle using the pedals.\”

    Here is the full PDF:

    http://ddot.dc.gov/ddot/frames.asp?doc=/ddot/lib/ddot/information/bicycle/pdf/bike_nofr_07-28-06.pdf

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  • Todd June 20, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    Cecil #55,

    I was meaning the shop may not enjoy the negative publicity one employee\’s words and could possibly impact her employment. In my opinion it was shortsighted of Senator Burdick to reference her own daughter and not clarify more precise verbage (if it was only the verbage she was uncomfortable with). I was never suggesting a boycott. Capitalism be damned, people speak with their dollars and I would hate for RCB to be affected.

    I hope that clarifies my thoughts.

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  • N.I.K. June 20, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    rixtir:

    With your hypothetical scenario, I\’d still consider it to be a problem *if* the Senator acknowledged that one citizen (even me!) reprimanding them with forceful language, regardless of whether or not that decision matches my personal biases. Such demonstrates that, with the most miniscule amount of negative feedback -the complaint of one person- the Senator will change their mind. Easily-intimidated elected officials are just as bad as thick-skulled \”my way or the highway\” types. Specific to the real-live instance at hand, it was the complaint of a relative. This isn\’t speculation, mind you, this is what Burdick herself has said.

    As for Sheldon Brown\’s opinion, keep in mind that what I\’m talking about isn\’t the \”should rimbrake-less fixies be street legal?\” question, but rather the basis of Burdick\’s decision being weak. Sheldon\’s sure more qualified than I am (I personally don\’t ride fixie or brakeless fixie and probably never would, but that\’s just because I like riding fast and prefer a shorter stopping distance that doesn\’t eat my tires), but again, I consider reversing a position based on the convictions of a lone individual inadequate, and it\’s this sort of reversal that was confessed pretty much from the get-go. Hence my bitching. :)

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  • N.I.K. June 20, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    Grr…bad edit. :( Should read as follows:

    \”…I\’d still consider it to be a problem *if* the Senator acknowledged that one citizen (even me!) reprimanding them with forceful language directly resulted in them reversing their opinion, regardless of whether or not that decision matches my personal biases.\”

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  • N.I.K. June 20, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    And a missing qualifier, no less. :( x 6 Ain\’t my day:

    \”(I personally don\’t ride fixie or brakeless fixie and probably never would, but that\’s just because I like riding fast and prefer a shorter stopping distance that doesn\’t eat my tires due to my lack of skill)\”.

    There, better. :)

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  • rixtir June 20, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Yep, we definitely need an edit function on the board. Hint hint.

    If I were a legislator, and I had a nagging doubt about legislation, I might still vote for it, but wonder if I did the right thing. And if I asked somebody else\’s opinion, because I had a nagging doubt, I might change my mind about it. I think we all have those moments, don\’t we, were we\’re not 100% sure about the wisdom of something? The alternative is to sail through the universe like W does, never doubting, never questioning, never changing our minds. I would suggest those are the kinds of people we don\’t want in office.

    If I were a Senator, and I wasn\’t sure how to vote on this, I\’d give some consideration to what Sheldon has to say. I\’d also give some consideration to what SKiDmark has to say– his arguments are well-reasoned and very convincing. At the end of the day, I\’d still have to make a decision based on the best information and best arguments I have available, and yes, perhaps even based on my gut feeling.

    If this was a bill to ban bicycles from roads, and Senator Burdick changed her mind about supporting it, and voted to kill the bill, you\’d all be calling her a hero who had the integrity to change her mind. This time the cards cut against you. That\’s how it goes in life. I would strongly suggest that Scott Bricker is right on this, and that people adjust accordingly.

    As for Sheldon \”smart but eccentric\” Brown, I\’m not saying he\’s right and everybody else is wrong. What I am saying is there\’s a legitimate difference of opinion on the question of safety, and people can\’t just dismiss out of hand anybody who thinks bikes should have handbrakes as being \”uninformed.\”

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  • Zach June 20, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    To: sen.ginnyburdick@state.or.us

    Subject: Bicycle Brake Legislation – Disappointed in your decision

    Hi, Senator Burdick -

    I am writing to express my disappointment in your last-minute dismantling of a carefully thought-out and negotiated addition to an important bill. As a liberal Democrat, I am sure you share my concern with the way some police officers misuse their authority to unfairly target specific segments of the population. And while the fact that the Portland Police Bureau has written literally scores of $242 tickets to bike messengers and other folks who look like they might be cycling activists certainly is nowhere near as despicable as, say, racial profiling, I would imagine that it is not a behavior that you approve of.

    Your decision to change the language of the bill gives the police a rubber stamp to continue issuing arbitrary and egregious fines to cyclists with safe and effective equipment.

    Were you aware of how this law was enforced and applied?

    Were you aware of how large the penalties for violators are?

    Could you afford to pay 25% of your monthly income on a traffic violation because a cop didn\’t like the way you look or the color of your hair? Your actions will cost low-income Portlanders thousands of dollars in fines.

    I spent 2 months last fall working to help elect Rep. David Edwards in Hillsboro, because I believe that the Democratic party is good for the State of Oregon. Your actions make me feel like my work was at least partly in vain.

    And I guess it\’s probably too late to fix this.

    Anyway, I just wanted to share my feelings. The Legislature has done a lot of good things this session, but you really dropped the ball on this one. And hope you give me (and the rest of the cycling community) a reason not work against you in the next election. Lots of us take this personally, you know? And we volunteer and donate and vote too.

    [name and address redacted]

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  • Zach June 20, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    (p.s. – my fixed gear bike has a brake, for one simple reason: if i can stop faster, than i can go faster.)

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  • N.I.K. June 20, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    If this was a bill to ban bicycles from roads, and Senator Burdick changed her mind about supporting it, and voted to kill the bill, you\’d all be calling her a hero who had the integrity to change her mind.

    (well, I don\’t know if we have to keep extrapolating on various hypothetical pieces of legislature, but…okay…)

    Not necessarily. In my case, at least, it\’d depend on the circumstances of what changed her mind. Much like I wouldn\’t call Mayor Potter any sort of hero for having caved on his original opposition to budgeting the Master Plan(more like less of a jerk), I wouldn\’t call anyone who agreed on banning bicycles from roads and then turned around on it at the last minute due to substantial public backlash a hero, either. I\’d be glad the ban didn\’t happen, but I sure as heck would do everything I could to make sure that someone who *needed* that much prodding to not agree with something 100% *stupid* as the ban in your hypothetical situation saw failure in any subsequent re-election bids.

    But hey, put words in my mouth. G\’on. :P

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  • John Boyd June 20, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    Skidmark (61), Thanks for doing the digging to find DC\’s much wiser-worded statute. Perhaps if Ginsberg/Atkinson take another run at this, Ginny will feel better about this particular language. I do.

    While UK law requires that both wheels be braked, a fixed-gear satisfies this for the rear wheel.

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  • josh m June 20, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    \”If this was a bill to ban bicycles from roads, and Senator Burdick changed her mind about supporting it, and voted to kill the bill, you\’d all be calling her a hero who had the integrity to change her mind\”

    Actually, I\’d be very skeptical about her. If she voted twice to ban bikes, my opinion would already be negative of her, even if she changed her mind. The reason she changed her mind would probably be more because of the negative image she believes she would get, than because she had a change of heart.
    Sorry. I don\’t decide TWICE for someone, and then have one person who doesn\’t even have real experience w/ the topic tell me i shouldn\’t have done that, i am not going to change my mind. I am going to go talk to people who have daily experience with the subject.

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  • Dabby June 20, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    This all comes from a winner of the Alice B. Toeclips award?

    Should have given it to Mr. Ginsberg….

    He is the one who deserves it.

    For Miss Burdick to squash such a imperative ordinance change, one that will mainly affect the livelyhood and transportation of the needed workers who move a lot, or realistically most of the local legal process around town, is ludicrous and unwarranted, especially given the reason stated for doing so.

    But remember, she is famous for supporting WALKING…… and pedestrian changes, over cycling ones…..

    What do you expect?

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  • rixtir June 20, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    John Boyd, Post 70:

    The DC law is the same as the Oregon law, except they amended it to decriminalize fixed gears.

    Putting aside the fixed gear language, the D.C. statute is not an improvement over the proposed Oregon bill. The proposed bill improves upon the existing Oregon (and D.C.) statute. Ginsberg did a good job with the language change– it was exactly the change the Oregon statute needed.

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  • rixtir June 20, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    Dabby– In what way does requiring a handbrake on a bicycle \”affect the livelihood and transportation of the needed workers who move a lot\”? You usually have some very well-thought out comments to offer, but it really appears to me that you\’re over-reaching here…

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  • Logan 5 June 20, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    The argument about a brake making a fixed gear bike unsafe is getting so old. It is simply not true and overly dramatic to the point of being pathetic. We\’ve heard the same arguments over other now-mandatory safety items like helmets for motorcyclists and, mmmm, oh yeah, seat belts (I can\’t escape from a burning car if I\’m strapped in!). Don\’t like the tickets? Put on a recycled brake from an old bike for free. And if it\’s truly \”unsafe\”, just don\’t use it! When motorcyclists didn\’t like the helmet law in CA, they simply wore those leather WWI flying helmets which are useless but at least they were smart enough to give the appearance that they were complying.

    Livelihood my foot.

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  • Dabby June 20, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    My point is that these are the people who are being heavily targeted, and ticketed, repeatedly, for riding a bicycle that supposedly has no brakes, even though it does….

    The trickle down theroy is proving itself right, as the working cyclist is taking the heavy brunt, while the recreational cyclist has the power.

    What is important here is this: The technical fact that it is a legitimate brake is being heavily overshadowed by personal feelings, and second hand information.

    This should be dealt with, in legislation, and on the streets, by actually understanding the mechanics of the fixed gear.

    The police who hand out these tickets are happy to state that they know it is a fully functional brake, as they write out the ticket.

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  • SKiDmark June 20, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    N.I.K. You should race in the West Side Invite if you really think you can ride faster than someone riding a fixed gear bike without a handbrake :P

    Logan 5 : I don\’t think anyone said that a handbrake on a fixed is more dangerous than without. I seem to remember acknowledging that a a bike will stop better with a front brake. The crux of this debate is (for me anyways) is that a fixed gear bike IS LEGAL with just a fixed hub for stopping, as it will skid the wheel on \”clean, level, dry pavement\” or \”from a speed of 10mph in a distance of 15 feet.\” Basically if a Police Officer tells you to stop, and you can do it in a car length, you\’ve satified the law. Unfortunately, two Police Officers and one Judge don\’t see it that way, and this clarification of the law is for them.

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  • N.I.K. June 21, 2007 at 12:12 am

    N.I.K. You should race in the West Side Invite if you really think you can ride faster than someone riding a fixed gear bike without a handbrake :P

    Whoah there, SKiDmark! Bad phrasing on my behalf, and my edit still sucked a mean one. :( What I meant was \”I like to ride fast, I\’m *not* a skilled brakeless fixie rider, I haven\’t got the inclination to wear out a couple rear tires and chip some teeth in trying to *become* one, and so I pretty much will always be relying on a hand operated front brake because it\’s pretty damned easy to stop with one over a short distance.\”

    In no way whatsoever was the gauntlet being thrown down. I may have my occasional bouts of linguistic stupidity, but I\’m not *dumb*. :)

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  • Drew June 21, 2007 at 1:25 am

    I was cruising up thru the Riverview Cemetary a couple of weeks ago, and saw a group of bikes with a fixie rider descending from the upper gate. The fixie was riding adjacent to the pavement, in the grass down the steep slope. He was using the grass to help slow him down. One of the riders warned him that the grass would end, and there was a huge leaf pile downhill. I don\’t know how it went, since I was riding uphill and passed them. But I was concerned that a bike crash there may cause the owners to prohibit bicyle access thru the cemetary, which would be a major problem for many commuters.

    I give fixed gear riders extra room because they can\’t slow the bike down as well as one fitted with good brakes. If I was a legislator, I would be uncomfortable passing a law that says fixed gear bikes are not required to have a front brake. I am glad that Senator Burdicks daughter voiced her concern to her mom, I would definatly do the same if I was in her shoes. On the other hand, it is unfair targeting riders for tickets about equipment issues who are otherwise able to manage their bike well in traffic. There are plenty of regular bikes with terrible brakes around (like dept. store bikes with steel rims) which are more deserving of tickets, if ticketing bicyclists based on equipment is such a high police priority. I don\’t know what the solution is to this conumdrum, but I think a law specifically endorsing fixies without front brakes is a mistake.

    I\’ll never forget the guy I saw in San Francisco bombing downhill into an intersection. His shoes had detached from his pedals and the cranks were spinning too fast for him to clip in. He missed a crash with a car at a 4 way stop, and slowed down on the following uphill.

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  • Val A Lindsay II June 21, 2007 at 7:32 am

    I think Skidmark nailed it on the head in post #61.

    The first language offered to law is a bit absurd…

    \”A bicycle must be equipped with a brake that enables the operator of the bicycle to stop the bicycle within 15 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement, \’except that a fixed gear bicycle is not required to be equipped with a separate brake.\’” It\’s the equivelant (to me)of saying \”A gun owner must demonstrate his ability to shoot, load and store his firarm safely except if the owner is a gunshop owner\”.

    The law needs to address the equipment, not make an exception to it with no wording as to why the exception is made.

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  • Sasha June 21, 2007 at 8:14 am

    Scott Bricker,

    With all due respect, and there is much due for your work, what you ask is not my job as a citizen.

    You do yours and I\’ll do mine. I don\’t have to be political, and indeed it doesn\’t make much sense for me to do so. I am not a politician, and I am not likely to ever be one or to ever interact with Ginny beyond voting or not voting for her. My job as a citizen that is affected by her actions is to let her know what I think and feel.

    All too often in politics we the people forgive or forget because of previous good deeds done by the politician in question. There\’s even a name for it: Pork. I for one do not believe in pork barreled politics. Being a previously well intentioned or actionable politician does not automatically give you a free ride, as a politician, to make decisions I don\’t agree with.

    I, as a citizen, demand more. And I will be heard. I really don\’t have a lot of sympathy if that makes your job, as a politician, harder. It should be hard. And if Ginny continues to make decisions I do not agree with, even if she is your political ally, I would want her replaced (not that I see much call for that). But government gives too much latitude to those in power to make mistakes and poor decisions. Us citizens should not do the same, and I think we let it slide too often. This case, to me, is a good example.

    Don\’t get me wrong, your points are valid and I agree that it may not be in the overall best interest. But she is a Public Servant. She serves my interests, not the other way around. The foundation of our country demands that I be honest, not political. We spend way too much time as a nation on the latter.

    S

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  • SKiDmark June 21, 2007 at 8:31 am

    N.I.K.
    You could ride a geared bike, or a fixed with a handbrake, nobody will make fun – much. Seriously, alleycats are fun and there is suprisingly less attitude than you would think. I have fun, and I am old and slow. You\’ll see some amazing riding, if you can keep up.

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  • wyatt June 21, 2007 at 8:52 am

    \”I give fixed gear riders extra room because they can\’t slow the bike down as well as one fitted with good brakes.\”

    That doesn\’t make sense. You would give someone estra room if their brakes worked better than yours.

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  • wyatt June 21, 2007 at 8:55 am

    That\’s \”eXtra\”.

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  • SKiDmark June 21, 2007 at 9:31 am

    I give hand-braked riders more room when I slow down, because I begin slowing down sooner :)

    Drew, you can\’t tell me that you have never seen an inexpericenced non-fixed rider pull a stupid move like the ones you have described above. Next time you walk past a bike with a handbrake or see one hanging on the MAX, take a good look at the brakes, or if you can, give the handle a squeeze. I bet about half the time you will be apalled at what a sad state of disrepair they are in and occasionally they won\’t even be hooked up at all, especially on low-end mountain bikes with V-brakes like Magna. But who rides Magnas? Probably more people than those who ride \”nice\” bikes.

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  • josh m June 21, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Drew,
    we could take many single examples of some occurance and use that as the overall for that group… then we\’d all be asses.

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  • Fawkinghell June 21, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    How about changing the language to \”A bicycle must be able to stop within 15 feet from a speed of ten mph on clean, level, dry pavement.\” Just leave it at that. Would this be a possibility? Or am I a day late and a buck short?

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  • Hawthorne June 21, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    Scott,

    Don\’t lecture me. I appreciate the job you do but that does not give you the right to speak in that tone of voice. If a bit of criticism from the voting masses will push our fine Sen. away from the bike lobby, then I\’d say that her skin is a bit too thin.

    What happened to the days when the BTA was on the frontlines? What makes you think that sucking up will get you more?

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  • SKiDmark June 22, 2007 at 12:17 am

    Maybe BTA could meet with the messengers and get their side of the story.

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  • alex June 22, 2007 at 10:53 am

    i am curious if the downtown bike messengers have considered banding together for a strike. perhaps a major disruption of the city\’s legal system could bring attention to an important link in the system. not claiming that it is a good idea, just one that has come to mind.

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  • SKiDmark June 22, 2007 at 11:30 am

    There would have to be a Union for that.

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  • josh m June 22, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    besides, they can\’t afford it.

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  • naess June 22, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    skidmark (91)-

    there doesn\’t have to be a union for a group of workers to go on strike. it helps, a lot , but it has been done in many places, sans union. just look at the taxi driver strikes in new york.

    of course it would require a lot of unity amongst the messengers to make sure that no one breaks the strike and works anyways.

    josh m (92-

    they may not be able to afford taking the time off that a strike would entail, but can they really afford $242 tickets?

    -naess

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  • SKiDmark June 22, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    The court will let you pay 20 bucks a month.

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  • NeRf June 22, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    well i\’m pretty pissed but i\’m not going to go off, i just want to say i think that this was planned for a while. i\’ve been pulled over and cited six time for this, WHILE WORKING.
    i\’ve been told that \”i know you can stop, but its the law\” and \”We\’re not targeting you or bikes\” and also threatened now with jail time for wreckless driving because there is always another charge these two officers will throw in.
    anyways, the last time i was pulled over (maybe two or three weeks ago) barnum asked me, in the middle of his lecture, what i was going to do if the law didn\’t pass, i said it would, he asked again and said again it would, he asked again…..well you get the idea.

    without sounding like a conspiracy theorist i think they\’ve known for a while. now unfortunatly i don\’t know what we could do to fix this.

    It is completly idiotic that one person,
    who has nothing to do with any of this
    needless drama can come in and ask for the bill to be stripped of the track bike language.
    and before i\’m bombarded with \”well just put a brake on, blah blah blah troll troll troll\”
    i will not put a brake on my bike

    period

    i\’m not trying to be a martyr.

    i\’m just trying to make a living.
    nothing i have ever done on my bike has injured any person, animal or otherwise so i do not understand why this is even an issue
    -NeRf LiNG

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  • NeRf June 22, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    Also there has been a strike attempt in portland, http://portlandmessenger.org/main.php?e=tsstrike

    there are too many people who want a courier job in this TOWN, for every one job there are around 5 out of work messengers and 30 hipsters that will try to scoop it up making striking a sure losing bet because not everyone is willing to risk their jobs.

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  • Qwendolyn June 23, 2007 at 11:11 am

    I\’ve said it elsewhere, but I\’ll say it again here.

    There is a direct correlation between the decline of critical mass and other militant actions and the increase in police pressure on cyclists rights across the city.

    If no one is keeping the police in line, then they are pushing back and pushing back hard.

    So here\’s to militancy and here is to cycling.

    Wake up, people.

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  • Jonathan Maus / BikePortland June 23, 2007 at 11:23 am

    Qwendolyn,

    Perhaps I should start a separate discussion on the impacts of \”militancy\” on the perception of bicycling in America.

    For now, I don\’t want to derail this thread with that discussion.

    Also, when you comment, I would very much appreciate you not filling in the \”URL\” field with this site\’s address.

    That field is meant for a link to your personal site (if you have one) and I don\’t want readers to be confused and think you have an official affiliation with BikePortland.org.

    Thanks.

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  • Jonathan Maus / BikePortland June 23, 2007 at 11:51 am

    As for messengers,

    I think it\’s long overdue that either PUMA, or a new group gets together and forms some sort of cohesive, organized, messenger advocacy group that can effectively voice the concerns of that community.

    Imagine if a well-written letter, signed by all the professional bicycle delivery people in Portland, was given to Sen. Burdick and it expressed their feelings of harassment and undue hardship caused by the inordinate amount of fixie tickets they have received.

    When I talked to Sen. Burdick for this story, at the end of our conversation I brought up messengers to her. I told her how they are bearing the brunt of the fallout over this confusing legal situation. She seemed to care about it and was interested in figuring out a way to work with them on this fixie issue.

    The opportunity is there but it won\’t happen on its own.

    Messengers contribute to the Portland economy and with their zero-emissions deliveries I think the city should be encouraging more bike deliveries.

    Unfortunately messengers suffer from perhaps the worst reputation and perception of any part of the community…and because of that, no one is eager to align themselves with their causes or issues (don\’t expect the BTA to go bat for messengers).

    It has been over a year since I heard that Portland messengers were going to get serious about advocacy but I think most of the energy has gone instead to Bikes to Rwanda (which is not a bad place for it to go).

    I have personally tried in the past to connect messengers with city bureaucracy in order to start a productive conversation but so far nothing has come of it.

    I would love to see improved conditions for package delivery professionals that use bicycles (my PC name for messengers;-)). I would also like to see more bicycle deliveries.

    Unfortunately I don\’t think it will ever happen until a core group of messengers makes the sacrifice and commitment it takes to become a respected and listened to voice in the system.

    They\’ve got to start somewhere.

    Let me know if/how I can help.

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  • Qwendolyn June 24, 2007 at 9:04 am

    RE: post 98

    My apologies. It is your website and I certainly didn\’t want to mislead anyone.

    In the past I\’ve seen websites tell me that if I didn\’t have a URL I could put their link in that spot.

    I think it was because that way they get a higher site index in google.

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  • SKiDmark June 24, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    So…um…Jonathan, do you think you could interview Senator Burdick and ask her if she has had any email or phone contact with Officers Barnum and Balzer and/or Judge Lowe?

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  • Coyote June 24, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    Wow, I have been waffling on this one for a while. I am all conflicted:

    Burdick’s actions appear capricious and not what I would expect of a professional legislator. I certainly hope she has a more robust decision making process than the one described here. Someday she may have to decide a matter that is weightier than this one.

    Is the issue here the safety of fixies, or is it the conscious misinterpretation of a long-standing law by PPB to harass a class of public space users? Nobody seems willing to point finger here. I think the question needs to be asked.

    Why do I care? I have driven a lot of high performance vehicles over the last thirty years. Not one of them stopped to well. Of course everyone should be running a front brake. Duh.

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  • Donna June 24, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    I have a fairly good imagination and can envision a downtown Portland with auto messengers replacing bikes – what a nightmare that would be! I also realize that if you just keep riding, driving, or even walking steadily and predictibly, the messengers will be able to do their thing without interfering with your thing. That\’s good enough for me. I\’m one of those middle-class looking, sounding, and acting bike commuters. I understand the privilege that affords me. I wrote Sen. Burdick expressing my displeasure and concern, and it\’s all about the bike messengers. Just say the word, guys, and I\’ll write all the middle-class sounding letters to anyone you think would be of use in this. I wish I could do more.

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  • Jonathan Maus / BikePortland June 25, 2007 at 9:12 am

    \”So…um…Jonathan, do you think you could interview Senator Burdick and ask her if she has had any email or phone contact with Officers Barnum and Balzer and/or Judge Lowe?\”

    Um no. Skidmark, in this business I need much more than a hunch before I go around asking people this kind of thing. Do you (or anyone else) have evidence that this happened? I understand the idea, but I doubt it happened. So unless I find or am presented with some evidence, I will not go down this line of questioning.

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  • SKiDmark June 25, 2007 at 10:28 am

    It\’s just a simple question, it does not have not have to be phrased in such a confrontational manner. I think it is odd that the bill would have went this far and then had a complete reversal and I suspect pressure from law enforcement. It really isn\’t that far fetched.

    Considering this is whole issue is primarily about messengers (and it is) maybe interviewing the effected messengers would be the thing to do.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis June 25, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    Considering that the issue is primarily about messengers, then I think Jonathan got it right in #99 when he suggested there be some organized response or particiption in the political process from messengers or, collectively, the messenger community. So far, as far as I know, Mark Ginsberg and a few others — none of whom are messengers — have driven the entire process.

    Asking others to ask questions that imply nefarious motives on the part of the respondent — after the respondent has already essentially answered the question regarding her motives — is IMHO a poor excuse for advocacy. \”The thing to do\” is for the people affected to get involved in solving the problem instead of simply complaining and relying on the civic-minded efforts of others.

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  • SKiDmark June 25, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    It\’s obvious to me now that I should have asked these questions in a private email to Jonathan.

    You lawyers use bike messengers to deliver court documents don\’t you? Seems like it is more in your interset to help them than it is in my interest.

    The reason that I have been so vocal is partly because I have track bike but mainly because I have friends that are messengers, and it sucks when your friends are harassed by Police, and when people who know nothing about them make negative statements about them. It really is not my place to advocate for them, and I don\’t think I am anywhere near being that diplomatic as I tend to say exactly what I think, consequences be damned. That is fine if I am only representing myself, but it would not be right to hurt others by saying the wrong thing to the wrong person.

    I have become known for posting on the internet lately, rather than being known for building kooky bikes, and I am not comfortable with this, so from now on, I am \”keeping my mouth shut\”.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis June 25, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    @ #107:

    I think I have the same issues re diplomacy. My intent was to get you fired up, not get you to keep your mouth shut. Regardless of who you are, that outcome is bad for all of us because it is bad for (what\’s left of) our democracy.

    I also feel the same re police harassment. I don\’t care if they\’re my friends or not, police overreaching is a problem in our society (ask James Chasse) and it threatens everyone\’s rights.

    I\’ve been advocating for this issue for the same reason Mark Ginsberg has: I\’m knowledgable enough to know that it\’s an arbitrary exercise of police power and that\’s not good for anyone ultimately. And I want to see people biking more. How anyone can seriously question why or how the PPB has a bad reputation in the community in light of stuff like this is just beyond me. Just FYI, Mark Ginsberg is not leading this effort because he relies on messengers to deliver documents (even though he may in fact so rely).

    Like Mark, I have no self-interest here. Despite the impression out there, I don\’t think there are any (or many) firms that are reliant on bike messengers. We use our own couriers and others that do use those services could probably adapt pretty quickly without them.

    But I think there is a huge market for short-distance transportation of both people and goods in and around downtown that bikes could dominate, and that the City should encourage. I think this is an example of where the bike community needs more entrepeneurial spirit.

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  • jay June 26, 2007 at 10:43 am

    so is this it? the bill got passed in both houses, the majority of the committee approved of the bill, yet one person\’s say means it\’s dead? what kind of democratic process is this? either way, i think fixed gears are still legal under the \’spirit of the law\’ interpretation because a decently skilled rider can skid the bike to a stop easily within the guidelines of the law, therefore qualifying the drivetrain as a brake. if cops ticket track bikes, they should also ticket bikse with coaster brake… or stop harassing messengers and quit the hypocrisy.

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  • Michaelk July 17, 2007 at 12:21 am

    Um no. Skidmark, in this business I need much more than a hunch before I go around asking people this kind of thing.

    Blogging must really be a different business than journalism, then.

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  • bb July 17, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    I have an answer for the \’need a brake\’ law. Perhaps not a real answer, but one that is subversive, and what could be better than that?

    How about printing a 1:1 image of a sidepull, gluing that image to a piece of cardboard or something nice and stiff and then mounting it to the front of your fork crown with double stick tape??

    Looks like a duck……..

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  • 180mm_dan December 21, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    Ouch. I understand Senator Burdick considering her daughter\’s comments about fixed gears, but the Senator used flawed logic:

    Many bikers, regardless of brake/bike set-up, don\’t know what the hell they\’re doing.

    So I don\’t understand why the fixed gear method is supposedly more dangerous than any other.

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  • wsbob December 24, 2007 at 2:37 am

    Going back to their inception, it\’s interesting to consider how it was that various bike braking systems, such as calipers, coasters, drum and disc brakes came to replace traditional back-pedal braking associated with fixed gear bikes, to become the conventional bike braking systems in use today.

    Without the support of research, I believe a simple explanation in the example of the caliper system, is that the basic nature of this design is inherently more efficient in reversing the forward inertia of mass represented by a bicycle, rider and personal gear in motion, than is fixed gear backpedal braking.

    The caliper brake is positioned at the outermost point of the spinning wheel\’s radius where the greatest opposing mechanical advantage can be gained by remotely activated levers, commonly located on the handle bars and used with the riders hands.

    In comparison, non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes seek to reverse forward inertia by means of the rider applying force opposite of the direction of travel to a small diameter circle at the center of the wheel where from a braking standpoint, the least mechanical advantage is available. Coaster brakes and drum brakes apply their braking force at the same point as the fixie brake method, making them less efficient than calipers.

    It\’s the extraordinary efficiency of the caliper brake combined with handle bar mounted brake lever system that has made bikes equipped with it so readily usable by people greatly varying in strength, ability and experience related to riding bikes. As I understand it presently, it\’s this kind of braking efficiency that makes bikes having that system superior to non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes in meeting criteria necessary for bikes approved for use in traffic along with motor vehicles on public streets and roads.

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  • Seth Alford December 24, 2007 at 4:28 am

    wsbob writes in #113 about the wonders of caliper brakes, \”Without the support of research….\” And he goes on to conclude that calipers are \”…superior to non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes in meeting criteria necessary for bikes approved for use in traffic along with motor vehicles on public streets and roads.\”

    Note use in the term \”non-conventionally\” to describe fixed gear bikes without additional brakes. This is an example of shaping the debate by re-defining the terms. Becaused fixed gear bikes are \”non-conventional\”, wsbob seems to imply that they must be, somehow, bad, maybe even illegal.

    And note \”criteria necessary\”. The implication is that the government doesn\’t approve of fixed gear bikes without additional brakes. Certainly the Portland Police Bureau does not approve of them. But they only get to enforce the laws, not write them.

    I\’m not a lawyer. But, as far as I can see, no such criteria exists. Once again, a plain text reading of the statute shows that the Legislature specified a performance standard, not an equipment standard. Fixed gear bikes can meet the performance standard, and are therefore legal.

    Suggestion for Jonathan: this is why I tried to draft an FAQ on this topic. Once you get back from vacation, maybe have one of the experts in fixed gear bicycles (which I am definitely NOT) fill in some of the missing answers. Put the FAQ somewhere central on your site. Make each question linkable. Make sure you point out that the opinions offered in the FAQ are from non-lawyers, unless a lawyer is willing to bless the FAQ.

    Then, rather than have to re-answer the same set of questions each time you post another article on this issue, everyone can simply say, \”your point is covered in the FAQ, answer #N. Please familiarize yourself with what has been posted previously on this topic before posting something new.\”

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  • wsbob December 24, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    S Alford, I\’m not implying or in any way suggesting that non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes are bad, but rather, that caliper and other conventional bike brake system equipped bikes are superior to them for use in traffic by more people than non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes are.

    I\’m also not alluding to any attitude on the part of the government about a preference it may or may not have for fixed gear bikes without additional brakes. The only thing I\’m talking about in comment #113, is the relative superiority of various bike braking systems over others for safe use in traffic on public streets with motor vehicles.

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  • rixtir December 24, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    Seth, 114:

    Once again, a plain text reading of the statute shows that the Legislature specified a performance standard, not an equipment standard.

    No, a plain text reading of the statute clearly shows that there is both an equipment standard AND a performance standard.

    What the ORS doesn\’t do is define the term \”brake,\” and that definition is what is at issue when these citations are contested at trial.

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