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KATU takes on fixie ticketing issue

Posted by on December 19th, 2007 at 12:15 pm

KATU, Portland’s ABC affiliate, ran a special “On Your Side” report last night on the fixed-gear bicycle brake issue.

The story was given the headline of “Are brakeless bikes safe to ride?”. Of course “brakeless” bikes are not safe. But are fixed-geared bikes technically brakeless? That depends on your definition of brake and it seems to me that the issue should focus on whether or not someone can safely stop their vehicle (a standard that is laid out in the law), not on what type of brake is used.

KATU unfortunately makes this into yet another story where people who ride bikes are portrayed as dangerous scofflaws who are just trying to “stick it to the man” (a phrase which was uttered by the KATU reporter in the story).

fixie bill in Salem
Lawyer Mark Ginsberg testifying on
behalf of the fixed-gear bill in Salem.
(Photos © Jonathan Maus)

[Background: This issue of Portland police officers ticketing fixed-gear bike riders began back in July of 2006 with the court case of messenger Ayla Holland. Holland was found guilty of a bicycle equipment violation because her bike was a fixed-gear and the judge ruled that a fixed-gear bike does not technically have the legally-required "brake". A few months later a different judge ruled that fixed-gear bikes were OK, thus putting the whole issue into legal limbo (but that didn't stop police from issuing tickets). A bill that would have specifically legalized fixed-gear bikes nearly became Oregon law, but was modified at the last moment (see more on that below). I've written over 20 articles on this, you can read it all on my special coverage page.]

As of January 1, the bicycle brake equipment law will state that, “a bicycle must be equipped with a brake that enables the operator to stop the bicycle within 15 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement.”

Unfortunately, because of an 11th hour decision by Oregon State Senator Ginny Burdick to strike fixed-gear specific language from the bill, the new law does nothing to help solve the problem.

So, just what exactly is the problem? Here are few things that come to mind:

  • People riding fixed-gear bikes (without a hand-brake) continue to get ticketed by police and are being told they must attach a front hand-brake to their bike (even though nowhere in the law does it mention being required to have a hand brake and a front brake is technically illegal since it is impossible to “skid” with the front wheel as the law requires).
  • Many people I’ve talked to claim they are being unfairly targeted by one or two specific Traffic Division officers (Officers Barnum and Balzer frequently come up).
  • Many of the people ticketed are professional bike messengers who can ill-afford the repeated $92 dollar tickets they are receiving.

As for the Police Bureau, KATU claims in story they have issued “less than two dozen tickets per year” for this infraction. That may be true if they are taking an average over the last decade, but clearly there have been many more tickets than that issued recently (feel free to chime in the comments if you’ve gotten one).

fixed gear sign
A sign outside Veloce
Bicycles on Hawthorne.

The people interviewed In KATU’s story alone claimed to have tallied six tickets for riding a fixed-gear. Lawyer Mark Ginsberg told me this morning he doesn’t think the ‘less than two dozen’ amount is accurate.

Back in November of 2006, Ginsberg fought six fixed-gear tickets in a single day in court.

The Police Bureau has repeatedly stood by their claim that messengers and fixed-gear riders are not being targeted. However, I continue to hear stories that refute this. The latest being an officer who stood outside a downtown office building, waiting near a group of fixed-gear bikes to ticket the owners when they returned.

In the KATU piece, Police Bureau spokesperson Brian Schmautz says, “I know for a few people this is the only issue that exists, but for us, just put a brake on your bike for crying out loud… It’s the law and nobody will bother you ever again.”

However, not everyone agrees that “it’s just the law” and for the people impacted by these tickets, it is a serious matter.

Let’s not forget that Senate Bill 729, which would have said that a “fixed gear bicycle is not required to be equipped with a separate brake,” passed the House and the Senate before hitting that unexpected snag.

To her credit, Senator Burdick has said she wants to revisit this issue in the future.

In the meantime, people who ride fixed-gear bicycles will keep getting tickets, allegations of targeted enforcement will remain, and, because some people think fixed-gear bikes are inherently unsafe and unfit to be on the road, the cat-and-mouse game will continue.


You can read the report and watch the video on KATU.com.

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Comments
  • Qwendolyn December 19, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    Who are the dangerous scofflaws trying to stick it to the man?

    …Randy Leonard, maybe?

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  • bahueh December 19, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    who ever is getting these tickets (i\’ve personally never been stopped by a cop on my training fixie)…just put a visual hand brake on..doesn\’t mean it has to be attached to a cable…

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  • Mmann December 19, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    I didn\’t see the piece, but seems one thing they should have done was have some fixed gear riders demo stopping in 15 feet to prove whether or not they are meeting the letter of the law. And maybe comparing it to what \”real brakes\” can do. I don\’t ride a fixie, but I\’ll bet they can stop quicker than me in some of the wet conditions we\’re getting these days.

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  • KTesh December 19, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    bahueh,

    that is until the cop ask\’s you to demonstrate that it is functional.

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  • Paul Tay December 19, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    I\’m with the fixies on this one. If you guys think you can stop in time without the Hail Mary moment, GO 4 IT.

    There is something to be said for the STRICT construction in PLAIN english meaning of \”braking\” mechanism.

    Hey, PPB show me one DRUNKEN, outta-control, reckless village idiot on a fixie crashing into a SUV and KILLING everyone on board, I\’ll show you the said village idiot impersonating Santa at the Tulsa PD Awards Banquet. :-P

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  • Cøyøte December 19, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    This whole thing pisses me off every time I hear about it. PPB has no time to investigate crashes that send people to hospitals, but they do have time to worry about fixies. How embarrassing is that?

    If fixed grear bcicyles were causing crashes with traumatic injuries PPB might have a point. This is authoritarian crap from PPB. They are rousting fixie riders because they do not like their attitude. \”Stick it to the man\” indeed, I cannot think of a better reason!

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  • NWD December 19, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    I know this is a divisive issue for us, but a simple question: approximately what percentage of fixed gear bikes being ridden on our roads are not drilled for either front or rear caliper brakes? My only slightly educated guess is that it\’s somewhere less than 10%.

    For the other 90% who\’s frames/forks can accommodate brakes, just install \’em for god\’s sake. Sellwood Cycle Repair has 5 gallon buckets full of calipers and levers in their back room. You could have a functional hand brake on your bike for less than twenty bucks. If 90% of fixed gear riders put brakes on their bikes, the police would likely stop targeting the issue and the remaining 10% who truly cannot install them would stop getting hassled. And stories like this wouldn\’t show up in the press, making all of us look foolish.

    Even the 10% or so who\’s frames/forks are not drilled can get a high quality fork which IS drilled for a couple hundred bucks. Not cheap, but cheaper than multiple tickets.

    Seriously, if your bike is drilled for caliper brakes, can anyone name any good reason why you should not install brakes today? Please, please, please do not say it has anything to do with vanity or some desire to \’stick it to the man.\’ Those would be lame reasons.

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  • bruce December 19, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    I need some education please. What is the advantage associated with running \”brakeless\” on a fixed gear? Is this purely a fashion statement? Is this a live free or die ethos? I\’ve always been confused by the apparent lack of logic but I\’m open minded. In the relatively unlikely but possible event of a loss of a chain a brakeless fixie is a liability. I know that a talented rider can bring one to a stop by other means. I wouldn\’t put too many of the riders I see in the talented category.
    Give me the straight story.
    thanks,
    bruce

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  • pushkin December 19, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    Countdown to 200+ redundant comments begins now. To save yourselves time you can cut and paste the ones from all the other articles on this corpse of a topic.

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  • toddistic December 19, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    i feel alot safer on the roads riding fixed than trying to stop with wet capiler pads.

    todd

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  • NWD December 19, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    I feel even safer stopping on wet roads with a fixed AND caliper pads.

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  • a.O December 19, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    This is a classic example of police officers abusing their discretion to harass people. Not only is it fundamentally unfair, but it severely undermines peoples\’ confidence in the value and impartiality of government. Any responsible Mayor would immediately order an end to such police misconduct.

    But this all could be prevented if Ginny Burdick had simply done her job.

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  • forkthis December 19, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    \”Who are the dangerous scofflaws trying to stick it to the man?\”

    Larry Craig?

    Poor taste — maybe. Still funny.

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  • Craig December 19, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    Well said a.O.
    I whole heartedly agree.

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  • tonyt December 19, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    My email to KATU.

    \”Thanks for another sensational (not in a good way) news story that entirely misses the point and, yet again, seeks to marginalize cyclists.

    Dictionary.com defines a brake as \” a device for slowing or stopping a vehicle or other moving mechanism by the absorption or transfer of the energy of momentum, usually by means of friction.\”

    Why do you refer to fixies as brakeless, when whether or not they have a brake is exactly the question?

    Fixies, in the hands of an even moderately competent rider, meet the literal requirements of the current law, (skidding on dry level pavement).

    Did you know that the law forbids trucks from using compression brakes within city limits? Doesn\’t this mean that the law admits that the engine/drivetrain is a brake?

    Why is an engine/drivetrain considered a brake on a truck, but not on a bike?

    I have an idea for something that you guys can do that might actually be constructive. Go stand at a public intersection and see how long it is before a car stops to allow you to cross.

    Every car that drives by without yielding is breaking the law. Cars kill 43,000 people a year, many of them pedestrians.

    Every public intersection IS a crosswalk, whether it is marked or not (ORS 801.220). Therefore drivers are required to yield to peds at all public intersections.

    Did you know that? Do you do that? Most drivers don\’t. Why?

    How about a story that actually helps inform us as a society, not just exploit our differences.\”

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  • jleiss December 19, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Unless someone can give a satisfactory response to #8, I\’m siding with the police on this one. And I wouldn\’t mind if the PPB started ticketing cyclists for riding sans lights at night.

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  • Carl December 19, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    NWD,
    Let\’s say cops started ticketing cyclists who weren\’t wearing helmets. Would you be saying that folks should just buy a helmet and stop complaining?

    Helmets are a good idea. Caliper brakes are swell. Neither is legally required on our roads.

    Disappointing that there was no mention of Judge Larson\’s ruling that a fixed-gear IS a braking device.

    And putting a front brake on your bike actually makes your bike in violation of the law. Unless you can skid your front wheel. So, if you\’ve got front brakes…for the love of God take \’em off you scofflaw! It\’s not hard.

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  • Evan Brown December 19, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    I ride a brakeless track bicycle. I have done this for over 2 years. I do it for a few reasons. When you are first starting out on a fixed, it\’s NECESSARY to have a brake. But, after you become accustomed to using your feet to stop, it is both rewarding and challenging to use your feel only. NOW, some would view this as unsafe, but this is where experience comes in. You CAN ONLY TRAVEL AT A SPEED WHICH YOU CAN STOP SAFELY!!! Now, as you become a more experienced and confident rider, you can slowly work that speed up, and eventually you will be able to ride at a very quick pace and still keep total control. understand?

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  • Anonymous December 19, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    #8: For many, riding fixed with no brake has a financial advantage — no brake means no worn out rims. And it is not unusual to go through a wheel in a single winter when riding a lot with all the crap on the road.

    Many people think that a fixed gear is just a fashion statement — there is no doubt they can be quite sexy — but a good brakeless fixy is nearly maintenance free, which is a real consideration for a segment of the population (messengers) who make very little riding their bikes 8-10 hours a day.

    Disclaimer: I ride a single speed with a front brake in the winter, and I make plenty of money and have never been a messenger.

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  • Ron December 19, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    #8: For many, riding fixed with no brake has a financial advantage — no brake means no worn out rims. And it is not unusual to go through a wheel in a single winter when riding a lot with all the crap on the road.

    Many people think that a fixed gear is just a fashion statement — there is no doubt they can be quite sexy — but a good brakeless fixy is nearly maintenance free, which is a real consideration for a segment of the population (messengers) who make very little riding their bikes 8-10 hours a day.

    Disclaimer: I ride a single speed with a front brake in the winter, and I make plenty of money and have never been a messenger.

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  • david December 19, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    responding to bruce\’s #8: chain loss aside (this really shouldn\’t happen if your chainline is straight), in my experience the one instance you might really want a hand brake on a fixie is when a toe clip and/or strap snaps. if you\’re slowing/stopping from high speeds on a steep descent using just your legs, chances are you\’re exerting a lot of force in opposite directions on your metal clips, which can sometimes cause them to shear off. in such a situation, having a redundant hand brake can be a godsend, as it\’s much more difficult to stop yourself with only one functional clip/strap. granted, if you ride with cleats this won\’t impact you.

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  • tonyt December 19, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    jleiss,

    I\’m with you on the light thing.

    Regarding your comment on #8, I\’m assuming you\’re referring to the chain breaking/slipping off thing?

    In my years as a mechanic, I saw 0/zero/nada chains break on fixies. I saw many, many more cables break.

    Note, I\’m saying chains on fixies. I\’ve seen many broken chains on geared bikes. The stresses on a geared bike\’s chain are tension AND lateral/shear which contribute to chain failure. Fixie chains only experience tension.

    The cops keep bringing up the damn chain thing, and as far as I\’m concerned, it\’s the yapping of a completely uninformed partisan.

    Not to say that somewhere out there a chain has never broken on a fixie, but those failures are far exceeded by cable failures. Please find a new argument.

    Oh, yeah, if the chain argument flies, then coaster brakes are out too.

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  • Concerned December 19, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    There are some serious realities missing from the discussion of this topic.

    For one, riding fixed-gear bikes (especially without a hand-brake) has become extremely popular in the urban environs of the US. This is an extension of the mass-marketing of the \”messenger\” style and sub-culture. While messengers remain… well, messengers… with all their well-documented ethos and pathos intact, many, many others are adopting the bikes and riding style of these supposed scofflaws without nearly the same level of experience in urban riding.

    The result: there are many more people choosing to ride fixed-gear bikes without a hand-brake that are not capable of safely coming to a stop, especially in urgent circumstances.

    While I remain faithful in the prowess and skills of experienced riders to handle their hand-brake-less fixed-gear bikes, I am extremely doubtful about the safety of a great many people who are being attracted to this riding style.

    If I were responsible for enforcement, I would feel tempted to outlaw riding bikes set up this way as a method of protecting those foolish enough not to know better than try to emulate such a potentially dangerous practice. That being said, the safety hazard here is clearly unexperienced riders, who do not appear to be the ones being targeted by the Portland Police.

    I suggest that if the PPB wants to issue these citations they should do so in the way that they require field sobriety tests: if you can\’t walk the line (or skid to a stop), then you get the fine. If you can, then they\’ve only managed to waste a small amount of your time (and theirs).

    By the way, this is not just conjecture on my part about fixed-gear riders in Portland. I see these people (and their bikes) on a very regular basis. And I have first-hand experience on multiple occasions of watching people fail to meet the current guidelines for stopping a bike safely without a hand brake.

    So, do I think PPB enforcement practice needs to change: YES, definitely. Do I think inexperienced riders should be legally allowed to ride a bike they can\’t safely stop: Leaning towards NO on this one. Viable solution: ???

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  • bikegrrrl December 19, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    Everybody! Write KATU. It\’s easy and it\’s the kind of thing that gets noticed! Stop complaining and do something simple that helps.
    Here\’s the \’news\’ item:
    http://www.katu.com/news/12619171.html
    Here\’s where to write:
    yourturn@katu.com

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  • steve December 19, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    Experience this, skill that, Blah!

    Who among you, that are actually riding regularly, has not seen the stereotypical hipster douche or douchette, careening out of control on a brakeless fixie?

    Frame too big, seat way too high, riding on platforms and completely out of control. What do we do about these people? They seem to be multiplying with the water..

    To be clear, I own and can safely operate a brakeless bike.

    Imagine you are a dumb as a rock traffic cop. For a lot of you this should be easy.

    You are standing downtown and see Mr and Ms hipster on their ill fitting brakeless bikes, spinning out of control through a stop. How do you think your hall monitor brain would interpret such a scene? How would it affect your future behaviour towards fixies? Especially if you have the pleasure of occaisionally cordoning of an intersection full of biker brains and blood?

    All I am saying, is this \’I have the experience to operate a brakeless bike safely\’ argument, simply steps us right up to the bicycle licensing argument.

    Your subjective interpretation of \”skill\” and \”safe\” is meaningless in a public, shared use environment. In other words, for you narcissitic folks, it ain\’t all about you!

    There are track versions of many cars and they sure as hell are not allowed on public roads. Why are you so special?

    One last thing to the moronic argument that you save wear and tear on your rims by not having a brake. If you do not need the brake to stop, why would you use it? In other words, mounting a brake that you do not need or use, should not wear out your rim, or the brake pads right? Though it might save your life if you happen to need it. It certainly would help out the scenesters which appear to be flocking here in droves.

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  • Dabby December 19, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Regarding chains,

    A person can loosen a stiff link on a chain, and may be able to break it entirely, by bending it side to side for a while.

    Now, spend the same amount of time tugging on a chain in a straight line, without twisting or bending it, and see how much damage you have done.

    It will be virtually none.

    This is a simple test of the different stresses a chain is put through, depending on what kind of drive train you are running.

    A geared drive train subjects the chain to bending, twisting, and sideways movement, while at the same time going either forward, or backward, sometimes slack, sometimes stressed.

    Imagine the wear on the links and pins throughout all of this, over miles and miles.

    A fixed, or even single speed drive train, is generally well lined up, relieving the chain of the constant stresses of sideways and twisting motions.

    This leaves the chain available to do what it is really designed for, which is work long and strong at going forward.

    And also cuts back on the possibilities of encountering the infamous \”Weakest Link\”…..

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  • Dabby December 19, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    Sorry,

    One more point.

    A properly applied chain on a straight drive train is stronger than possibly all of the parts of a brake caliper, and or lever, especially one that is of lesser quality. If one of these parts fails, the brake is useless.

    Simply take into thought the sautered cap on the lever end of the brake cable.

    Is that stronger and more reliable than your chain?

    Why force, as a required redundant, a weaker and less reliable caliper brake onto our bikes? Many of which cannot even accommodate them.

    And not to mention once again the reality of yanking on that front brake too hard, leaving you flying over the handlebars, possibly into traffic itself.

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  • a.O December 19, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    I just don\’t understand why the deraileur can\’t get no love. It\’s an incredible invention. It makes climbing easier, sprinting faster, and let\’s you keep the Mo under all conditions.

    And you will never, ever find a better braking system than my disc brakes. I can instantly lock both of my wheels. But more importantly, I can instantly slow my wheels so drastically without locking them that I can stop faster than anyone else I see.

    I guess wearing a bright yellow jacket and a helmet with lights taped on and riding a Trek Portland will never be cool enough to be emulated by the kids. But I\’m not gonna complain.

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  • D. December 19, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    Riding a fixed without brakes is just pure, rank stupidity–but a fixed plus front brake is probably equal to many two-brake machines. As long as you want to crucify the connective tissues in your knees………..

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  • travis December 19, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    fix gear bikes are dangerous. i rode them for a long while, until i realized i can\’t travel at speeds downhill and hop a curb. last year a nut-job of a forklift operator decided to cut me off… had i had a free wheel i could have easily cleared the curb and landed smooth, but damn if your cadence is fouled up when you\’re going 30+ and suddenly you have no traction then traction again. i consider myself a good rider…, but, well i don\’t know i have fingers -may as well use them for something.

    i still keep a track bike around, but my decutables are too high.

    ps: i was also arrest on a track bike in gainesville, fl

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  • tonyt December 19, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Hey \”Concerned.\” Brilliant rant. Seriously.

    One point of contention though.

    You said;

    \”If I were responsible for enforcement, I would feel tempted to outlaw riding bikes set up this way as a method of protecting those foolish enough not to know better than try to emulate such a potentially dangerous practice.\”

    Are you by chance related to our Vice President? He too seems intent on combining the powers of the Executive Branch with those of the Legislative Branch

    Fortunately we have (or so we\’re told) separation of powers so that those who enforce the law are not also charged with writing it. Perhaps a refresher course in Civics is in store for you.

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  • travis December 19, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    if you\’re building up old bikes with lesser parts than a fix makes sense… but the real problem is in the fad… like g-strings. some folks can handle it… others need to spent sometime in the gym. its a good time watching the newbies try to stop for coffee on their stipped down (not bolted up) bikes.

    horizontal drop-outs kids. know what to build or yeah, it will break or come apart (to simplify the terms) -brake or old chain.

    this is no disrespect for those who can ride.

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  • pdxrunner December 19, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    The comment about burning through your rims in a winter is a load of crap, unless you wear your pads down to nothing and keep on riding. I rode through seven Portland winters on the same rims.
    I couldn\’t agree more with a.O. Now that I have disc brakes I love them! Why wouldn\’t you want to stop as fast as possible? I guess I continue to be the uncool, non-hipster with his helmet, blinking lights, yellow jersey, gears, and disc brakes. Wow, I\’m so uncool.

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  • Jeff December 19, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    Lots of good arguments on all sides….

    Just STOP, please STOP denying that fashion plays a big role in this argument. Go on any web site devoted to fixies and hear the constant gushing about style…

    Make up your own mind on the issue. Just stop denying the fashionistas their due…

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  • GLV December 19, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Hey \”tonyt.\” Brilliant condescension. Seriously.

    Have you ever heard of the concept of \”Administrative Rules?\” Didn\’t think so. Perhaps you should take some of your own advice re: civics 101.

    Here\’s a crash course: agencies in the Executive Branch writes enforceable regulations ALL THE FREAKING TIME.

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  • jleiss December 19, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    I should clarify my earlier question about #8: What is it important to ride a fixie WITHOUT additional braking mechanisms? Having a caliper brake doesn\’t mean you have to use it (re: #19), it just means you can if you need to.

    I\’ll grant that the fixies are legal if you can stop. But rather than allowing brakeless fixies, I think the law should actually be rewritten to prohibit them. Here\’s why:

    My bike has two braking mechanisms, the front brake, which I use most of the time and can stop me within the required distance, and a rear brake. The important thing is that these are independent braking systems. Redundancy is a great thing.

    Even though it is unlikely that a bikes brakes would experience mechanical failure, it is possible. You leg-brakes could also fail (broken toe-strap, cramp, etc). That is a good reason to have at least one additional brake, even if you never use it. (Once again, I echo #8 – why can\’t you just have the brake installed and keep using the drive train to brake? Why such vehement resistance?)

    (I\’d like to point out that manual-transmission cars can also use the drive train as a brake. I could use it to stop a standard coupe pretty quickly, as could any decent driver. But it should still be illegal for such a vehicle to operate without both a regular brake system and a separate emergency brake.)

    The PPB may be overreacting on this, but I say just get the brakes. And then let\’s focus on getting the PPB to enforce the laws protecting cyclists from autos with the same enthusiasm they are protecting us from ourselves.

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  • wyatt December 19, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    same freaking arguments, all over again.

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  • a.O December 19, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    Here\’s a crash course: agencies in the Executive Branch writes [sic] enforceable regulations ALL THE FREAKING TIME.

    But only after a grant of authority to do so from the Legislative Branch (and, I might add, in clear violation of the Separation of Powers principle and the non-delegation doctrine).

    Anyway, it should be abundantly clear that no one \”responsible for enforcement\” can \”outlaw\” anything, unless the Legislature says they can.

    Really, is this about fashion? I understand the simplicity of no deraileur and no brakes, but their lack of relatively utility must mean that it\’s primarily about form rather than function. I\’m not passing judgment. But I want to understand.

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  • a.O December 19, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    One more thing:

    Everyone owes a BIG THANK YOU to Mark Ginsberg, who did his best to make this problem go away.

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  • tonyt December 19, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    GLV,

    Regarding Civics. What A.O. said.

    (thanks A.O.)

    Separation of power. As it should be.

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  • SH December 19, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    good show #15

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  • Spanky December 19, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    Hasn\’t this whole debate been done already, ad nauseum?

    It seems to me that a hand brake is just common sense. Like a helmet.

    If folks want to go without, then perhaps the law could be written so that when a fixie rider gorks him or herself on the side of a car, truck, powerpole (I saw it happen once, seriously), then they and their families will not be eligible for government benefits.

    Think it\’ll happen? Never. Why not? Becuase of the social contract. But it seems to me the other end of the social contract implies that the individual in society act in a responsible way, with conduct aimed at basic self preservation.

    A \”redundant\” brake seems to fit that bill. \”Cool factor\” be damned.

    Common sense. Get a hand operated brake, go ticket free, and stand a better chance to live on and continue to \”stick it to the man.\”

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  • peejay December 19, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    Many high-powered sports cars and jacked-up trucks, while technically legal, are unsafe as driven by the average person. Do the police have the power to assume that the drivers\’ of those vehicles cannot handle them properly and cite them for moving violations that have not yet happened?

    The new law on bicycle brakes requires a performance requirement, not an equipment requirement. How can the police assume a failure to meet that requirement without testing for it? How can they issue tickets on that assumption?

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  • Dag December 19, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    In my opinion, every bicycle should be equipped with two brakes, front and rear. The rear brake should be permitted to be a fixed gear.

    A front brake stops you fastest. I\’m sure a rear caliper brake is equivalent in braking power to a skid stop, particularly if the rider is skilled, but the fact of the matter is that your weight transfers forward as you\’re slowing down, giving the front wheel much better traction, and making front brakes far more effective.

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  • dan December 19, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    Still haven\’t seen anyone advance a convincing reason for not installing a front brake on fixies. No one\’s saying that you have to _use_ it, but are you so in love with looking cool that it\’s worth tickets to maintain your hipster image?

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  • Opus the Poet December 19, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    I have a question about that performance standard. What is the required speed for this demonstration? The reason I ask this is because the braking power required to stop increases as the square of the initial speed.

    The Texas standard is just that the brake has to be able to lock the wheel, with no regards to at what speed the wheel can be locked. Or even if the wheel has to be locked with a rider on the bike.

    Opus

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  • Cøyøte December 19, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    It is astounding how many of you would toss away your rights because a few people are in over their heads. \”Just put a hand brake on, it is safer… bla… bla… whaaaaa…\” Just effing amazing. No wonder Cheney makes a sport of pissing on neo-liberals – it is just too easy.

    We grant cops the right to enforce certain behavior standards. If they are not doing it right, and no one is listening. Civil disobedience is the bare minimum of our responsibilities.

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  • rev December 19, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    it is disturbing to hear people say \”just install the brakes\”

    \”just give in.\”

    \”just stop bothering me with this issue that does not affect me but which i am willing to offer my opinion\”

    the proof is in the puddin: if you can stop you will (when necessary) and if you can\’t just sue Schmautz. It was his responsibility to keep you from killing yourself.

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  • Beefa December 19, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    pdxrunner

    Its not a load of crap. I have been a courier for 17 years (not a misprint). When I started there was no such thing as \”Fixie\” as the bikes are now known. I still call them track bikes. But I am also too old to be cool anymore. One thing for certain is my track bike saved me a load of loot before it was essentially outlawed by the the circus twins. now I ride a single speed with calipers. I need new wheels, the side walls are caving in. I need new brake pads and and it is only December. In the 9 plus years i rode a fixie I only had to replace my wheels twice. Both times were due to wrecks, not wear and tear.
    So now I\’m looking at @ least $300 in repairs. My boss does not pay for these expenses. I do. I have never broken a chain on my track bikes. yet several on my road and MT bikes. Also I could not stop for shit today due to the amount of water on the road.

    But of course you and the cops know much more than i do about what is good for me and my peers. thanks for your concern. jerk

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  • joel December 19, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    #8 (i think. i kinda lost count.) -

    theres one, perfectly valid, reason to ride a fixed wheel without a mechanical hand brake – you simply dont want to.

    and why should you not want to?

    because you already *have* a braking mechanism – the very same mechanism used to move a fixed wheel forward – that is to say, your legs.

    \”brakeless fixie\” is an oxymoron, pure and simple.

    unfortunately, this is an argument thats been going on for over 100 years now, and people dont seem to be ready to wrap their heads around this one anytime soon.

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  • dan December 19, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    @ joel

    Similarly, I simply don\’t want to stop at red lights. And in fact, I usually don\’t. But the law and current interpretation thereof have been made abundantly clear in both cases, so we need to be adults and accept our tickets without whining when the cops get us.

    Work to change the law and/or its interpretation? Sure! But honestly, I don\’t necessarily support that – I see plenty of fashion victim fixie riders that don\’t have the skills to stay safe and really should have handbrakes.

    Frankly, the \”freedom of speech\” argument doesn\’t really wash for me – try applying that argument to not wearing a seatbelt and see how far you get.

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  • a.O December 19, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    I would like to respectfully submit that those of you who are debating the pros and cons of fixies and the pros and cons of stopping by exerting force on the crank are missing a very important point:

    First, there is not a significant public health or safety issue here. Lots of people ride these bikes in Portland every day and they don\’t endanger themselves or others by their stopping or lack thereof, at least not in relation to other road users.

    Second, there is no evidence that the Legislature ever even intended to make \”brakeless\” fixies illegal. In fact, it\’s just the opposite. Mark Ginsberg\’s bill was a \”clarification\” that the law does not apply to these bikes. It had the votes to pass until …

    Third, there is an obvious and long-stand pattern of \”enforcement\” of this law by specific PPB officers against a very specific segment of the population.

    Therefore, the police are abusing their discretion by targeting a disfavored group of people to punish because they don\’t like them.

    This ought to outrage citizens of a democracy and it ought to be an embarrassment to anyone who directs the law enforcement priorities of a community like Portland, i.e., Mayor Tom Potter.

    Yes, this is a relatively tiny injustice. But it is further proof that certain members of the Portland Police Bureau act like they are above the law and that our City\’s government is apparently unable or unwilling to stop them.

    It\’s the same Institutional Dysfunction that has given us the murder of James Chasse and the Nazi Mark Kruger pepper spraying babies.

    That\’s the important issue here.

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  • FauxPorteur December 19, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    Piles and piles of $.02! Here\’s mine.

    I ride bikes, I work on bikes professionally, I like fixed gears. After being a mechanic for several years I decided to rig up a fixed gear bike. It didn\’t have caliper brakes and I took a few trepidatious rides around the block before attempting commuting with it. I had no problems. I could always stop when I needed too. The charm wore off and I let it hang in the basement.

    Fast forward 8 years, it seems like everybody and their kid brother comes into the shop I work at and wants to strip off the perfectly functional center-pull calipers brakes and friction shifters/derailleurs and throw on a 48tx18t and a new flip-flop wheelset. It seems like a lot of these people don\’t have a history of riding bikes at all and their sole bike will be a caliiper-brakeless fixie (without mudguards no less!). I guess its cheaper to buy/build up/maintain a cheapo fixie than it is to buy/build up/maintain a derailleur bike. Maybe thats why messengers like them so much, they don\’t have to know how to adjust brake toe in, or have the tools to straighten a derailleur hanger. Less fuss, less muss.

    While I have confidence that most of the people being targeted by the cops for not having caliper-brakes (professional riders) posses pretty advanced fixed-gear riding skills (they may choose not to stop, but they definitely could\’ve) I don\’t know how I feel about these others that are jumping in to things maybe a bit too quickly and possibly with a too-high gear.

    I rode a 44×19 and I could lock into a skid with all my weight on the saddle meaning I could stop in a fraction of the distance some fixie riders can since a lot of them have to shift their body weight forward to initiate the skid

    There is definitely a stigma to riding a fixie with one or more caliper brakes, which is unfortunate.

    As for just having a front-caliper brake (on a fixie or a single speed, or whatever), well, I don\’t like that one either. Sometimes fixie riders call them \”emergency brakes\”. Try locking up your front wheel on a wet/leafy road. You\’ll hit the ground before you know what happened. I would rather have no caliper-brakes. At least I could fish-tail around and avoid whatever I was trying to avoid.

    Are cops doing this because they don\’t like seeing fixed gear bikes blow redlights or are they just trying to follow the letter of the law, or are they just picking on people they don\’t like? If they think that people adding a front brake to their fixed gear bike will make more people stop at red lights, I think they are sorely mistaken.

    But in the end, when I overhaul my fixie, it will have TWO! dorky brakes, I may not use them that much, but when I need to stop, I\’ll have lots of options. Colorful brake housing, nice levers and shiny brake calipers look good.

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  • John R December 19, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    A friend and I, both bicyclists, were walking across the Hawthorne Bridge about noon on a summer day. A fixie rider coming from behind us thought he\’d be able to pass us before the on-coming jogger reached us. He misjudged his speed and that of the jogger. We heard the words \”Oh, s–t,\” about two seconds before he hit my friend\’s left shoulder, knocking her to the railing. There was no rim brake.
    Install a hand brake. Don\’t use it if you don\’t need to, but use it if you do.

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  • wsbob December 19, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    Almost anybody can stop a bike equipped with a coaster brake, a front and rear calipers, or the latest popularly accepted innovation, disc brakes. Can the same be said about fixed gear track bikes that do not have any of those brake systems? No it cannot.

    It really doesn\’t matter how proficient some people that ride fixie track bikes are at stopping their bikes. What is important is that bikes allowed for use in traffic on public streets with motor vehicles be equipped to meet a safety standard consistent with traffic conditions encountered on public streets.

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  • Matt Picio December 20, 2007 at 12:29 am

    I totally agree with your 2nd paragraph wsbob (#52) – that\’s why the standard should be performance-based. 9 out of 10 fixie riders should have to have additional brakes, because they don\’t have the skills necessary to stop properly on a fixie. Once they can, they should be able to remove the additional brake, like training wheels. The other 1 of 10 are the pros, who have no problem stopping and can do things on a fixie that the rest of us can only dream of trying.

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  • nerf December 20, 2007 at 1:19 am

    and again the dead horse it beat….poor poor dead horse.

    i have a great idea, how about everyone that this doesn\’t concern keep their uninformed opinions to themselves hmm? the law isn\’t going to be changed for at least two years right? for some reason your guys \”awareness\” and \”advocacy\” only covers a small amount of the bike \”community\”, always ignoring the different smaller sects, which i\’m fine with, just leave me out of it, seriously. every time one of these stupid articles or tv spots come on drivers get more agro, police get more agro, i get more agro. cars have known about bikes for YEARS. a damn sticker on a fender or a city vehicle or a damn license plate isn\’t going to change a damn thing, and the last thing i would ever expect to help change the law\’s interpretation is your armchair bickering thats made me loath so many cyclists

    pretty much leave it alone, please

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  • Dag December 20, 2007 at 2:21 am

    Brakes aren\’t just a personal safety issue, they\’re a safety issue for those who may end up in our paths as well. I don\’t believe in helmet laws for adults, but brakes are another matter entirely.

    And I don\’t think performance standards are practical. Spot checks won\’t work, since the conditions and equipment required for a test are not always available. Should skilled fixie riders be licensed, or do they just get huge numbers of tickets that they can then contest in court with proof of skidding skill?

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  • wsbob December 20, 2007 at 3:00 am

    \”I totally agree with your 2nd paragraph wsbob (#52) – that\’s why the standard should be performance-based. 9 out of 10 fixie riders should have to have additional brakes, because they don\’t have the skills necessary to stop properly on a fixie. Once they can, they should be able to remove the additional brake, like training wheels. Matt Picio.

    Perhaps, but not definitely, they should be able to remove their additional brake(s)at some point in time. Considering whether to adopt such a policy raises the question of how to reliably establish whether riders desiring to ride without additional brakes have in fact developed the ability to safely stop without them.

    Who should determine that this ability has been developed, and how should determining it be arrived at? If it\’s going to cost money to determine that fixie riders have developed the ability to safely stop their bikes, how much of that cost will fixie riders be willing to shoulder for the privilege to ride without caliper, disc or coaster brakes?

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  • pdxrunner December 20, 2007 at 7:11 am

    Beffa

    I don\’t care if you don\’t have brakes.

    Based on your post, you\’ve been a courier for 17yrs and a fixie rider for the first 9, right? So you\’ve been using brakes for 8 years? And your rims are starting to wear out? Sounds normal.

    My original post was that unless you have real cheap rims your not going to wear them out in one winter, I rode for 7 winters (nearly everyday) on the same rims. Of course I had to change alot of pads.

    Better yet, with disc brakes, my rims will last until some jerk cuts me off. But hopefully they will stop me in time so I don\’t eat his door.

    Do what you want, but don\’t accuse me of siding with the cops.

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  • toddistic December 20, 2007 at 8:36 am

    Look a dead horse! Let\’s go kick it! Kick it some more.

    That sums up my feelings.

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  • SkidMark December 20, 2007 at 8:51 am

    Thank yo for dredging this crap up one more time, putting it on the radar, making us no-handbrakes having fixed riders a target of enforcement.

    A fixed gear hub IS a brake, It slows the bike down, and yes you can skid the rear tire with it.

    Comparisons to ten-ton trucks are ridiculous because they weigh 100 time more than their driver and a bike weighs about 1/10th. Engine braking on a semi is cutting power to the ignition anyways not downshifting.

    Faux brake levers are not an option on a bike that is meant to stripped down to it\’s bare functional part and nothing else. If you are going to hang a brake on it, it might as well work.

    A fixed gear bike with just a back handbrake would be a death trap. The resistance of your legs combined with the rear brake would lock up the wheel too easily and everyone knows the brake power is up front.

    As it has been said a milllion times before a fixed hub functions as a brake and stops the bike within the requirements of the law. That should be the end of it.

    This is down to two Police Officers and one judge, who don\’t understand how a fixed gear bike works. Maybe those two cops do understand but it is much easier to roll up next to a messenger who is just ridng along, ask him/her to stop, and when the comply by stopping (demonstrating that they have a brake, it is the fixed hub, stupid) they get a ticket for no brakes; instead of chasing them down when they are hauling ass and possibly make a moving violation.

    And finally the rider themself should be the one who determines whether they have the skill to stop a fixed gear bike without the assistance of a handbrake. It is called common sense, and personal responsibility.

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  • Bob Dylan December 20, 2007 at 8:56 am

    Coasting is fun.

    That is all.

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  • Vance December 20, 2007 at 9:49 am

    I was writing about this issue a year ago. Fixies have no business on the road. The law clearly states that there must be a braking mechanism, not just the ability to stop. Furthermore. It\’s your representation. PPD is responding more to your cries for attention, than any inherent safety issue. Has it really been that long since you\’all watched Easy Rider? Let\’s see, you deliberately engage in a mode of dress that you feel makes you individual. Your uniform elicits the desired response from the public, et al. Then you bitch and whine when you get called on it. Priceless.

    Shit, there are only a couple of riders on the road in the 201 since 1990. Since one of them wouldn\’t be caught dead posting a comment in here, that leaves Stefa. This is the guy that wanted to strike a messenger pose so badly, that he took the job of the only girl riding at the time. Hence the nickname, TIS-girl, Stefa. I wouldn\’t be drawing attention to your past if I were you, holmes. You are, without a doubt, the biggest poser to ever pull tags in PDX.

    I used the s*** word so this post would trigger your mod, Mr. Maus. I was hoping you would mod my post, as I\’m including a link to my article about this issue, as I mentioned above. I don\’t like posting links in my comments without your permission. Feel free to not post it. With that said, the blog is still under construction, I just feel very strongly about this issue, and wanted my comments to be available to those who care.

    http://vance.blogsavy.com

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  • nelly December 20, 2007 at 10:29 am

    …just invite the cops and the judges to a skid competition. is there one during pedalpalooza? have a short stop contest along with the long one.

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  • Carl December 20, 2007 at 10:29 am

    Wake up you legal eagles!

    I\’ll say it again:
    Putting a front brake on doesn\’t satisfy the current law. Unless you can skid your front wheel with them, front brakes are ILLEGAL. Read the law.

    Luckily the PPB makes up their own laws (get a rear light!) so they\’re letting all of you scofflaws with front brakes off the hook.

    Putting a front brake on your track bike actually makes it illegal.

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  • Matt Picio December 20, 2007 at 10:51 am

    wsbob (#58) – you missed the point entirely. If the standard is performance-based, you don\’t NEED to have a program to determine whether they\’re ready – they determine that. As long as you meet the standard, you\’re in compliance with the law.

    This is all such a non-issue anyway (except for the harassment portion), so I\’ll refrain from posting on it again.

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  • wsbob December 20, 2007 at 11:58 am

    Matt Picio and Skidmark, sorry, but it doesn\’t work that way. Motor vehicle operators aren\’t allowed to determine on their own whether or not their vehicles are sufficiently equipped to safely stop in traffic situations on public streets.

    Such vehicles are required to meet standardized equipment guidelines ensuring that they are capable of being safely controlled by an operator with a demonstrated ability to use that equipment competently.

    For a variety of reasons, bikes have mostly not had to undergo that type of scrutiny. With increasing numbers of bike riders wanting to ride their bikes as commuters or for work in traffic, questions about the ability of their bikes to meet a basic safety standard are a reasonable concern. The public has a right to expect that all vehicles authorized to use its streets meet such a standard.

    If fixie riders want to make the argument that on their bikes, their legs are brakes that are comparable to conventional bike brakes such as caliper, disc and coaster brakes, they\’d probably be prepared to prove this. Caliper, disc and coaster brakes are equipment consistently manufactured to a given performance standard.

    That\’s not the case with people. Human bodies and individuals strength and co-ordination abilities range dramatically. Conventional bike braking systems are designed with that in mind. The fixie brake system is not.

    If fixie riders really believe a reasonably average person can stop a fixie bike in emergency traffic situations as well as a person on a bike equipped with a caliper, disc or coaster brake system can, well then maybe they should just set about to prove it. I keep reading seemingly credible stories that suggest reasonably average people have considerable difficulty stopping or otherwise controlling their bikes.

    There\’s no reason non-conventional braked fixie bikes should be given consideration to have free reign on public streets until people that defend them are prepared to clearly establish the ability of their type of bike to be safely stopped in traffic by a reasonably average person.

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  • pursuit-a-beast December 20, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    I\’ve been riding and racing the track (Alpenrose) for 18 years now, so I feel I know my way around a fixed-gear bike, as well as considering myself a relatively skilled rider. I\’ve been riding fixed-gear on the road as a training tool for significantly longer than it has been trendy and would never consider riding a fixed gear bike on the road without a brake (my winter fixxie has both front and rear). Yes, a skilled rider can stop a fixed-gear bike fairly quickly, but never in my experience, can they do so faster than a bike with brakes front and rear. Locking up the rear wheel just results in a skid; you need at the very least a front brake (which does 60% of the stopping anyway).

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  • John December 20, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    Carl (#64):
    I think you are wrong in your assertion that putting a brake on the front wheel is \”illegal.\” You should take a closer look at the law ORS 815.280 (3) states \”Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit the use of additional parts and accessories on any bicycle not inconsistent with this section.\”

    And, by the way, I think I can make the front wheel skid for an instant, though we know that\’s not the optimum way to stop. Of course, locking up the rear wheel(s) on any vehicle is not the optimum way to control a vehicle either.

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  • jeff December 20, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    pursuit-a-beast, you can make that point all you want around here, but you\’ll still get folks claiming they can stop faster on a fixie. physics anyone?

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  • Pete December 20, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    My skateboard doesn\’t have any brakes… I know how to stop it very quickly but not as quick as I can on a fixed gear bike (I do have a functional front brake on my bike but it doesn\’t get used much).

    I think the cops and others are under some illusion that there is no such thing as stopping distance with a \’legal braking mechanism.\’ Its surprising how quickly you can slow down and stop, with some controlled skips and skids.

    If you ride within your abilities, and don\’t put other road users at risk, you should be free from harassment from the police. End of story.

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  • a.O December 20, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    John, @ #70, you are mistaken. The law requires that \”[a] bicycle must be equipped with a brake that enables the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.\” ORS 815.280(2)(a).

    The language in 815.280(3) is intended to clarify that it\’s OK to exceed the requirements. E.g., you are only required to have a \”white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front of the bicycle\” but you can have two, or one visible from 1000 feet. Or, like my MiNewt.X2 Dual, visible from low Earth orbit.

    Having only a front brake is inconsistent with 815.280 because it cannot make the bike skid and that\’s the legal requirement.

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  • Jeff December 20, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    Vance, you\’ve just managed to out-pose Stefa (whoever that is) while confusing the lot of us….Great dude… Keep on posing and \”pulling tags\”, wtf that means…

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  • jenn December 20, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Hey jonathan. I was talking to a friend the other day and he was telling me he just got a ticket for not having a brake even though he came to a skidding stop at a light and the cop continued to follow him for at least a mile or more until he decided to stop and ticket him, the whole time the cop could clearly see he was in control of his bike. i might be mistaken but I believe he said that this was his second \”no brake\” ticket in a month.

    and I\’ve had another friend about a month ago get a ticket also for being \”brakeless\”

    to the person who posted above me. being on a fixie makes you more in control of your bike and forces you to be more aware of what\’s going on and looking 5 steps ahead, and someone who isn\’t used to riding fix sure in the hell isn\’t going to go downtown and ride in traffic, it\’s just what the reasonably average person isn\’t going to do. it\’s like throwing a kid on a race horse for the first time when they\’ve never rode one.

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  • Jeff December 20, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    a.O.

    Just goes to show the legislators are talking out their asses… They need to talk to some experts on the subject. Skidding is not a safe or reasonable way to control a vehicle under any circumstances, when considered in the context of the general public. It\’s preferable to have an effective (means meets a performance standard) braking mechanism that simultaneously allows braking and control… Skids are largely out-of-control, no matter how much someone fishtails like a jackass….

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  • jenn December 20, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    I meant to comment 68 not above.

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  • Jeff December 20, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    The standard should not be performance based per individual. It should be based on engineering performance metrics vetted by industry and experts…

    The legislature fucked up big time on this one…

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  • Carl December 20, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    \”(a) A bicycle must be equipped with a brake that enables the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.\”

    Here\’s how I read it: if it\’s one of the \”braked wheels,\” you must be able to make it skid.

    Okay. So some might say that a front brake is still \”legal\” to have on your bike. Regardless, front brakes don\’t meet the legal requirement of a brake because 99% of the time, they can\’t make a bike skid.

    My point here is that there\’s all this blather about changing the law when the police clearly don\’t even understand (or care about) the current law. If they did, they\’d know that a front brake doesn\’t make your bike any more legal.

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  • a.O December 20, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Yes, it\’s a poorly drafted law. You should see the rest of the Oregon Revised Statutes, as well as the regulations of various State agencies. What else would you expect when the vast majority of your Legislators don\’t have a legal education? I\’m not saying I\’d draft flawless laws all the time, but I could do better than what we\’ve got now.

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  • max adders December 20, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    If the rider is adequately controlling his or her bike, why is there a need to ticket? Plenty of riders operate unsafe bikes every day– think wal-mart quality bikes with steel rims and plastic brake levers. Yet a cop is never gonna pull one of those riders over for having crappy components. Nor will they ever receive a ticket for using only the back brake. Or riding a too-low saddle. Or a backwards-installed fork.

    That said, brakeless riding is by and large just macho posturing. I wish people would stop rationalizing it and admit that it\’s a largely imaginary war for street cred. You do it to look tough. Dangerous. Brakeless fixies are to urban cycling as Hummers are to off-roading.

    I want no part of that scene. What nonsense.

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  • John December 20, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Carl & a.O:

    The law says the bike must be \”equipped\” with a brake that can cause a skid of the braked wheels. It doesn\’t say that you must \”accomplish\” your braking by actually skidding the wheels.

    My reference to ORS 815.280 section 3 is to refute the arguement that \”having a front brake is illegal\” as claimed by some. If you have a brake (caliper, legs, or whatever) with which you can demonstrate the ability to cause a skid, I argue that the \”extra\” brake on the front is legal, whether or not you can cause a skid.

    So, has anyone actually been cited by the PPB (or any other enforcement authority) for being unable to demonstrate a skid with a mechanical (caliper or coaster) brake?

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  • specialK December 20, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    I guess I have no sympathy for those that whine about getting tickets on their brakeless fixies for exactly the reasons stated by max in #79.

    Those that ride and vehemently defend riding brakeless do so out of sheer hubris. It is exactly that — macho posturing. It is about image and fashion, pure and simple.

    I ride a fixed gear, with a brake I use rarely if ever, but I\’m not so full of my abilities to think that situations don\’t occur where a brake might save my life. I consider it an emergency brake, and I\’ve been damn glad I have it a couple times. I fully support (and prove daily) the notion that one can ride safely without a brake. But I\’ll also never get my head around the idea that I\’m somehow less cool, fashionable, or badass for having one.

    Whatever. Maybe you aren\’t targeted for not having a brake. Maybe you\’re targetted for being superficial fools. Don\’t get me wrong, I\’m not saying you shouldn\’t have the right to ride without it, just that it\’s likely not the wisest choice to not have a backup.

    No doubt, this will invite loads of \”I\’ve been doing it for years\” retorts from some, as thought thats some kind of proof that it\’s as effective as a brake. All it proves to me is that you\’ve been lucky, and that you still don\’t value your life enough to make a wiser decision.

    Again, I\’m not defending arbitrary enforcement by police, but I certainly can\’t defend the notion that brakeless is somehow as safe as having a backup plan.

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  • a.O December 20, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    John, as I explained, your reference to ORS 815.280 as supporting the idea that a front brake is legal is incorrect. It\’s not illegal to put any brake on your bike, and that\’s the point of subsection (3).

    But if you have only a front brake, you are not compliant with the law. The law requires that \”[a] bicycle must be equipped with a brake that enables the operator to make the braked *wheels* skid on dry, level, clean pavement.\” You have to make the \”wheels\” – plural – skid. You can\’t do that with only one brake on the front or with only one brake on the back. You also can\’t do that on a \”brakeless\” fixie.

    You can only do that with a device, or devices, that make the wheels skid.

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  • Beefa December 20, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    pdxrunner

    I had my velocity rims laced in March ofthisyear. Thats9 months on a pair of rims,not 8 years. In your line of work mabey you can get 7-8 years out of a set of rims. I dont know, or care. Mine I cannot. not even close. so once again. It is not bullshit.

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  • steve December 20, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    Experience this, skill that, Blah!

    Who among you, that are actually riding regularly, has not seen the stereotypical hipster douche or douchette, careening out of control on a brakeless fixie?

    Frame too big, seat way too high, riding on platforms and completely out of control. What do we do about these people? They seem to be multiplying with the water..

    To be clear, I own and can safely operate a brakeless bike.

    Imagine you are a dumb as a rock traffic cop. For a lot of you this should be easy.

    You are standing downtown and see Mr and Ms hipster on their ill fitting brakeless bikes, spinning out of control through a stop. How do you think your hall monitor brain would interpret such a scene? How would it affect your future behaviour towards fixies? Especially if you have the pleasure of occaisionally cordoning of an intersection full of biker brains and blood?

    All I am saying, is this \’I have the experience to operate a brakeless bike safely\’ argument, simply steps us right up to the bicycle licensing argument.

    Your subjective interpretation of \”skill\” and \”safe\” is meaningless in a public, shared use environment. In other words, for you narcissitic folks, it ain\’t all about you!

    There are track versions of many cars and they sure as hell are not allowed on public roads. Why are you so special?

    One last thing to the moronic argument that you save wear and tear on your rims by not having a brake. If you do not need the brake to stop, why would you use it? In other words, mounting a brake that you do not need or use, should not wear out your rim, or the brake pads right? Though it might save your life if you happen to need it. It certainly would help out the scenesters which appear to be flocking here in droves.

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  • anon December 20, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    I think TIS girl was lisa. She lives in Bend now. she dated the lead songer of the Moxie love crux. They wrote the song, TIS girl.

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  • wyatt December 20, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    i have to keep reminding myself that the people who post here are but a small contingent of portland\’s cycling culture.

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  • DG December 20, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    I\’d put a front brake on but I don\’t want to scuff the paint off of my sweet new Velocity deep v rims. Does anyone make a fixed gear frame with disc brakes?

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  • anon_2 December 20, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    I love TIS girl…didn\’t she ride a fixie?
    anyway, she had a front brake so she never got a ticket, but her front brake was a disc brake so her rim never wore out. She was nice to cops, she would give them new pens and pepper spray as gifts…they liked her. I think she moved to bike utopia…some dutch country. anybody heard from her?

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  • SkidMark December 20, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    The hipsters aren\’t getting the lion\’s share of the tickets, the experienced bike messengers are.

    wsbob, not everyone can operate a manual transmission, should my old Toyota be made illegal?

    I like how the 18 year veteran track rider is trying to pretend that the only way to stop a fixed gear bike without a handbrake is by skidding.

    Race cars are not allowed on the street because they don\’t have headlights, taillights, and turn signals. It has nothing to do with their safety, especially when they are safer with better brakes, 6 point seatbelt harnesses, rollcages, and onboard fire extinguisher systems.

    Adding a front brake to a track bike does not satisfy the law. You can\’t skid the front wheel.

    In places that require a bicycles to have brakes on both wheels like the UK and Germany, a fixed gear hub is considered an adequate brake. So how come when we hop the ocean it is no longer a brake?

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  • rye December 20, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    Hey, if you are bothered about those of us who ride fixed wheels, but you, having done so before, know all about it, etc., can then please put your bike on craigslist and I will actually use it.

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  • wsbob December 21, 2007 at 1:13 am

    \”wsbob, not everyone can operate a manual transmission, should my old Toyota be made illegal?\” skidmark

    I don\’t know your old heap. Maybe it should be made illegal, but not because it has a manual transmission. It\’s clearly established that cars so equipped can be safely operated by a wide range of different people because the techniques involved in doing so aren\’t particularly demanding. Perhaps not everyone can drive a stick shift, but it seems like almost everyone can with a little practice. Can that also be said about non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes?

    Race cars? Oh, they\’re plenty safe alright…for the driver. On city streets, it\’s doubtful they\’d be very safe for everyone having to share streets with them.

    If it\’s true that bike messengers are getting slammed with the majority of the non-standard equipment citations, that might be a tip-off that the real problem here might be a personality issue between certain bike messengers and certain cops. That\’s what I\’d look in to.

    Are there certain messengers that use their job as an opportunity to be self-righteously snotty to cops and everyone else they decide to be impatient with?

    As for certain cops singling out people, playing games with them, or otherwise being general pains in the ass, anybody spending much time on the street, that doesn\’t understand that reality of life and is not interested in learning how to avoid encounters with said people might as well go home and spend the rest of their lives watching scooby-doo and brady bunch re-runs. It\’ll be safer there for you.

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  • David Feldman December 21, 2007 at 8:52 am

    Don\’t the Portland police have better things to do? Are there no more homicides, rapes, robberies, or DUI\’s in the city anymore?

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  • Cøyøte December 21, 2007 at 9:01 am

    wsbob #93 \”Can that also be said about non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes?\”

    Absolutely yes. After a few days of fixed gear riding most people will be braking at a level at that easily meets the performance standard laid out in the new law. (Personally, I think the old law is a tougher standard for fixed gear.) THis is very similar to the learning curve of manual transmission.

    If this was not the case, PPB would be scrapping up hipsters off the pavement every day. This is not happening. Yes many do look awkard trying stop there machines, but they manage to stop.

    None, IMO, will ever meet the perfoamnce of front and rear brakes. (The highest performance system available might be a disc front and a fixed gear.) Neither law specifies a high performance braking system, just a minimium one.

    In general I support the police\’s right to roust mal contents. However, this has crossed a line. Just because someone looks like an idiot, does not make them a danger.

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  • wsbob December 21, 2007 at 9:46 am

    Well Coyote, if the bikes are that easy to learn to handle, fine. I say, prove it. Maybe there\’s a way to do that that will turn doubters into believers. I think most people having to make their way through crowded streets just want to know they\’re not going have to take some sudden evasive maneuver because of a person out of control on a bike because it is non-conventionally brake equipped.

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  • Cøyøte December 21, 2007 at 10:00 am

    wsbob, it is being proven everday. Where are all the crashes because of brakeless fixies?

    That being said, I do not think they are easy to master. However, I think they are easy to master well enough to meet the standard set out in the law. Whether that standard is safe is not PPB\’s question to answer.

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  • SkidMark December 21, 2007 at 10:35 am

    \”Perhaps not everyone can drive a stick shift, but it seems like almost everyone can with a little practice. Can that also be said about non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes?\” wsbob

    Yes, it can. There is a little technique to learn, but it is fairly simple, and it is not limited to skidding.

    Probably the 4th time I have posted this link. Here it is, Fixed Gear 101 : Slowing and Stopping http://www.63xc.com/gregg/101_10.htm

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  • loree December 21, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    In re: \”Where are all the crashes because of brakeless fixies\” -Cøyøte #96

    As for whether the bikes are more dangerous, there are no statistics. When we looked at more than 1,500 crash records, we realized no one keeps track of how many accidents involved \”fixies\” without a traditional brake.

    – from the KATU article. So basically, they don\’t know whether there the perceived safety concern is even valid or not. I am curious about this. I\’m sure people crash on fixies (two people gave examples in the comments here), but I\’m sure people also crash with hand brakes (I\’ve done my fair share of crashing – once almost injuring another cyclist). How frequently does one occur vs. the other? It seems to me, when it comes to fining and potentially imprisoning citizens, we should err on the side of fewer baseless laws. Prove that fixies are less safe than other kinds of bikes, otherwise leave \’em alone.

    Mark Ginsberg is right on when he says \”It doesn\’t mean that people should be given tickets for things that might happen.\” (in the KATU article)

    If there is only a perceived safety issue, rather than an actual safety issue, the law should have passed with the fixie exception intact. How disappointing that it did not.

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  • SkidMark December 21, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    None of the recent fatalities have been the result of so-called \”brakeless fixies\”.

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  • wsbob December 21, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Maybe there haven\’t been any crashes due to un-conventionally braked fixies. I really don\’t know.

    What I know about the subject is mostly what I\’ve read on this weblog. I don\’t recall any such crashes having been described by anyone, but do recall numerous people describing uneasiness they\’ve experienced because of the apparent inability of fixie bike riders to control their bikes because they\’re unconventionally braked.

    I remember some of those comments as expressing quite a bit of alarm and genuine concern over their experience in observing out of control fixies in traffic. I don\’t know how to bring up related comments made over the last year, or I would, as a means of providing a little informal survey.

    It\’s the people that make and enforce laws that have to be provided with convincing proof that something such as a non-conventionally braked fixed gear bike, under specified conditions, can meet the criteria necessary for a safe vehicle on public streets.

    The outcome of this issue doesn\’t really affect me personally one way or the other, since I neither ride fixie or have to drive enough to have to watch out for those that do. It\’s interesting to think about, but beyond that, my main interest is that everybody on the road have a safe and enjoyable experience.

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  • jenn December 21, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    but don\’t you think that with as much attention the \”brakeless fixies\” are getting that if one of these fatalities or crashes that happened they would have \”brakeless\” all over it as a way to be like I told you so and give them more reason to ticket.

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  • SkidMark December 21, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Think about it wsbob, are you going to notice when a fixed gear rider without a handbrake is in control of their bike? They are not going to stand out because they will be blending in.

    Yesterday I saw an older gentleman with a mountain bike and BOTH brakes were disconnected, truly a case on NO BRAKES. I wonder if he has ever been pulled over for it while just riding down the street?

    There are quite a few BMXers downtown who don\’t have brakes on their bikes, and BMX bikes have freewheels. Do they get tickets?

    Neither of these two examples has any means to stop, but that\’s OK right. They are not riding one of those \”fixie\” death traps.

    BTW a conventionally braked fixed gear does not have a handbrake. They were around before caliper brakes.

    A fixed gear hub is as much a drive as it is a brake. When you pedal forward it goes forward. When you slow your pedaling the bike slows. When you stop pedaling the bike stops.

    brake : a device for arresting or preventing the motion of a mechanism.

    Hmm, seems like a fixed hub meets this description as you can bring the bike to a halt with it.

    The UK thinks it is a brake and so does Germany, they just require both wheels to have brakes.

    You will notice that nobody is complaining about getting this ticket in conjuction with getting a ticket for running a stop sign or a red light. Not stopping is pretty damning evidence that you can\’t stop, and nobody is going to try and fight that. It is the fact that you demonstate the ability to stop when you are asked to do so (Pull over.\”) and then, like a $94 insult, you are handed a ticket for \”no brakes\”. If you have \”no brakes\” how the hell did you stop?

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  • steve December 21, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    I know of several tickets given to bmx riders without brakes. You seem to have quite the persecution complex.

    Put some brakes on your bike like a big boy!

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  • SkidMark December 21, 2007 at 7:46 pm

    I\’ve never gotten the ticket, steve. In my neck of the woods the cops don\’t give a sh!t.

    Almost every bike messenger I have ever met has gotten one. It is not a \”persecution complex\” if it doesn\’t effect you directly, and if it is based in reality.

    I don\’t know how doing as you are told for no other reason than \”because I said so\” makes you a big boy.

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  • bikelover December 21, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    once again, dead horse.

    some of you guys need to grow some balls. if you see some hip-dude riding uncontrollably and fighting against their bike, CALL THEM OUT ON IT. do something to create change or atleast suggest it. people have no business on the road if they\’re riding brakeless and haven\’t mastered the basics of riding a track bike on the street.

    on the flip side, for those of us who actually know how to ride a track bike on the street / stop seated on split second reflex, how about a damned \”skid test\” by the cops to determine whether we can ride safely or not? just like the person somewhere above suggested mirroring that of a DUI test, ticket the kids that can\’t stop and leave those of us who can alone.

    as far as messengers getting the bulk of the tickets, this is to be expected when you work downtown where barnum/balzer patrol. i haven\’t heard yet of anyone getting ticketed in a great deal of neighborhoods on the east side.

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  • wsbob December 21, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    \”Think about it wsbob, are you going to notice when a fixed gear rider without a handbrake is in control of their bike?\” skidmark

    The people I remember commenting on this weblog noticed fixed gear riders not in control of their bikes. That\’s the issue. A persuasive argument that non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes can be safely stopped has to be made to the people that make and enforce the law (I know I\’m repeating myself).

    Skidmark, you must have read the other thread, \”Burdick axes fixed gear language from brake bill\”, currently on the front page. A lot of intelligent, experienced people have already spent a lot of time working out how to deal with this situation. Arriving at a workable answer is not that simple. If you really feel strongly about this subject, why not try talk directly to some of the people mentioned on the other thread that have tried to get legislation through that would make allowances for non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes?

    State Senator Ginny Burdick seems to be a key player in this effort and obviously, she seems to have some doubts about the implications of allowing the use of non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes on public streets, or she wouldn\’t have removed the related language from Senate Bill 729.

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  • toddistic December 21, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    Actually it wasnt Senator Ginny Burdick\’s doubts but her daughters opinion which made her about face. Fact is fact, she asked her daughter, her daughter stated her opinion and that was a major influcencing factor in the decision. Fixed gear bikes are more safe than a steel wheelset in wet weather.

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  • SkidMark December 21, 2007 at 11:34 pm

    I thought Ayla\’s video wasa pretty convincing argument.

    These people won\’t listen to a lawyer, they won\’t listen to the professional bike messengers that are getting the damn tickets. They don\’t want to listen. It is typical knee-jerk behavior. it\’s like someone wants a book or a song or a film banned; they haven\’t read it or heard it or saw it, but they know it\’s bad. They haven\’t ridden a fixed gear bike (w/o a handbrake) and don\’t know how to ride a fixed gear bike (w/o a handbrake), and they don\’t know how one stops, so nobody else should because nobody else knows how, and nobody can stop one.

    It\’s willful ignorance.

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  • nerf December 22, 2007 at 1:57 am

    wow wsbob, you sure talk a lot about something its seems you admittedly don\’t know anything about…
    hey i ride without brakes, been ticked 15 times (all while working, by the way i\’m a courier) and don\’t wear a helmet.
    and do you want to know why???????
    because at the end of the day, i can.
    nothing you can speculate, guess, or just make up can change that.
    because when your in your box everyday, combing through message boards, trolling, i\’m out riding and acutally am effected by this.
    YOU ARE NOT.
    so leave it alone.
    i could fill a whole article with the crap i;ve been told by these two officers and the things that my fellow messengers have been through, i\’ve seen them go two by two down 4th ave searching for messengers ignoring jaywalkers and cars.
    bottom line is that you have no clue what your talking about. AT ALL

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  • nerf December 22, 2007 at 1:58 am

    ps i can\’t wait to hear what you have to say next…your getting pretty repetitive

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  • wsbob December 22, 2007 at 10:04 am

    I realize that some people present here are akin to a brick wall. I\’m not sure much help in coming to a satisfactory resolution of this situation can come from people that consider themselves to be a universe unto themselves.

    On the other hand, obviously, some people following this thread are thinking intelligently about the issue, which is seems to consist of two parts: (1)Questions surrounding the idea of granting non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes legal use of streets and roads and how to go about making that happen. (2) Reports by some people that cops are disproportionately targeting and citing some of the people that ride these bikes.

    There are implications to the safety of the public whenever a vehicle is granted legal use of public streets and roads, according to the suitability of that vehicle for that use. I believe this fact, rather than the sole opinion of her bike mechanic daughter, is the reason Oregon senator Ginny Burdick removed language from the bike brake bill that would have allowed non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes legal use of public streets.

    There is a responsibility on the part of those that make the laws, to all of those that would be affected by the laws they make. It\’s entirely possible that non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes will be granted legal use of public streets by way of new law. It appears that this is only going to happen after the people working on making the law are given an understanding that these bikes can be safe, and how to go about ensuring that this will be the case when they\’re in traffic with other vehicles.

    Many, many people using public streets on a daily basis do not know how to ride non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes, and likely never will. Neither they or the people that make laws for them need to know how to ride that kind of bike in order to consider whether non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes should be granted legal use of public streets. It\’s the safety of everyone that must be considered, not just the interests of a few self absorbed bike couriers.

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  • beefa December 22, 2007 at 10:56 am

    wsbob

    yet it is those few self absorbed bike couriers who are taking the brunt of the PPB selective enforcement of a minor law.

    My guess is very few, if any people that have commented on this thread has ever gotten a ticket, or for that matter watched the PPB abuse their power in this regard.

    If couriers are feeling a little bit picked on in this respect,it is because we are. plain and simple. Balzer actually told nerf that he knew Nerf could stop on a dime and could not give a shit. He got a ticket anyway. So gleening what I can from Balzers statement is this: Its not a public safty issue. Its an easy way for me to do my job with out actually doing said job. How would you take it?
    wsbob

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  • SkidMark December 22, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    wsbob – you still refuse to believe that this issue is really about harassment and not about brakes or safety. The fact that these tickets are not being issued in any other part of Portland, the outerlying suburbs, or the rest of the state is proof that it is harassment.

    The people who can ride circles around you, and me, and most people, are getting these tickets, not the beginner fixed riders who don\’t have enough common sense to put a brake on their bike while they are learning.

    Fixed gear bikes without handbrakes have legal use of the streets right now, and maybe more so the way the law has been rewritten.

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  • Smilie December 22, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Thank you SkidMark. You get it.

    I work alongside Beefa and Nerf everyday. I am one of those messengers who feels the brunt of the enforcement by a select few. I have received tickets from each of them (BB+BB).

    I instantly tense up when I hear a motorcycle engine rev up. I have to deal with these maniacs on their BMWs everyday. I live this, while people who post here are far removed from the reality of the situation.

    I work in a war zone and am starting to question which side some people are on. As for me, \”…when I see an actual flesh-and-blood worker in conflict with his natural enemy, the policeman, I do not have to ask myself which side I am on.\”

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  • wsbob December 22, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    If some of you people believe you\’re being unfairly harrassed by being given disproportionate numbers of citations for bikes that aren\’t legally equipped, go see a lawyer. Maybe A.O. will help you out.

    Except for listening to your opinions, I have no way of knowing one way or another whether certain cyclists are being unfairly targeted or not, so I don\’t dismiss the possibility that harassment is a factor here. Anyway, I\’m just somebody participating in the discussion, not an attorney, judge or anybody else that might have a hand in deciding what the situation is. You need to prepare yourselves and talk to those people.

    Bottom line though, is that the citations people are talking about are being given for bikes that don\’t have conventional brake systems, right? Until they\’re legal, fix that and one source of your problem will go away immediately.

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  • Adam December 22, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    I work in a shop out near Gresham. I have met numerous BMXers who have received tickets for riding brakeless.

    Also met two newish fixie riders who have received them.

    Put a brake on the front of your bike, no more ticket. This is not persecution, it is stupidity. Yours for not putting a brake on your bike. How dumb can you be to get more than one of these tickets?

    The only rights being infringed our certainly yours. Your right to be a selfish, spoiled little child is definately being infringed upon. Sam Adams should have a meeting. Maybe we can all carry some signs under a bridge. Yeah that will fix it real quick.

    Or, you know, you could put a brake on your bike like a responsible person.

    idiots

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  • Adam December 22, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    Oh yeah, saying that it still won\’t be legal cause you can\’t skid with a front brake is ridiculous. They are not checking to see if you can skid anyway. They are just looking to see if you have a brake installed, by your own repeated exhortations.

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  • Adam December 22, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    Smilie,

    Comparing being a bike messenger in Portland to being in a warzone?

    Are you freakin\’ kidding me? How delusional can you be?

    You need to enlist, or at the very least read about what war is actually like. Poor little white boy, did the car honk at you? Awww poor thing! Police won\’t let you spazz about on a crappy bike without brakes? Awww, poor thing! You are so oppressed!

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  • toddistic December 22, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    Adam, wsbob, drones, etc…

    This is not about brakes on a fixie, its about the selective targetting by the PPB. If they are ignoring jaywalkers (whom I see alot of everyday downtown) or cars blowing stop signs and are going out of their way to ticket messengers then its wrong.

    You guys talk alot of sh*t for knowing nothing about fixed gear bikes. If you haven\’t spent some time on one then you really have no way to correctly assume what is unsafe about them.

    Further, the law does not say that bikes need to be equipped with a handbrake. It is not stated anywhere in the law. The police, once again, are using their \’infallible\’ judgement and interpreting their version of the law. I suppose the lady who hit Doyle deserves no ticket, the guy who killed Brett doesnt either, nor poor Tracy Sparling. The police are always right.

    Seriously, not all are destined to be sheep. You sure you dont drive a car?

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  • Adam December 22, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    I own a track bike and a fixie. I also knew Brett.

    I also have read the law. I also know lot\’s of people outside of downtown and outside you sad little messenger world who have received these tickets.

    The police are nearly always wrong, as apparently, are you.

    Get over yourself. I assure you, we are all over you as well!

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  • Adam December 22, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    Cops ignoring cars blowing stop signs! Hilarious. Do you believe anything you write?

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  • beefa December 22, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    Adam as spoken Everyone.

    So i guess there is nothing left to do
    but put some dark clothes on. take off the lights, hit the pipe, crack a PBR, light a smoke and Zoo bomb on my 18inch Fixie! BOO yah.. because ya all will always be wrong in his eyes.. See ya on the streets. because you won\’t see me, unless of course I take a whole family out when I rear end their Hummer

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  • Adam December 22, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    Beefa, Smilie, Nerf, Skidmark, and Toddistic.

    They are sorta like Jesus, dontcha think?

    Perhaps we could pool some money and send them to a town with real messengers? Oh wait, they wouldn\’t last ten minutes there..

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  • wyatt December 22, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    do you talk to people like this in person, adam? do you have all of your teeth?

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  • beefa December 22, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    Ahhh the love.. anonymity suits you well Adam

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  • Adam December 22, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    Truth stings a bit, eh? I am sure you are used to it by now!

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  • beefa December 22, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    What truth? you have no clue who you are insulting. So you have no point of reference from which you speak. But If you would like to meet us I will be @ the Ash Street Saloon on Jan 3rd @ 5pm.
    (I\’m on vacation until then) Dark brown hair, Blue eyes, Goatee, 6 foot, 225 lbs. Nerf and the rest will be there. we\’ll have an ally cat. I\’ll even name it after you. You can get in for free.

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  • nerf December 22, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    doubt they even know what an alleycat is beefa.
    i say F em, nothin they can say will change a thing. i\’m sure adam knows what hes talking about right? working on magna mt bikes all day in gresham really opens your eyes to the whole courier community and makes you hardcore…more hardcore than us unfortunatly.. on second thought i may get a car, take off the mufflers and buzz cyclists now since its so futile.
    thanks adam and wsbob, i\’ll be lookin for ya

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  • toddistic December 22, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    \”Cops ignoring cars blowing stop signs! Hilarious. Do you believe anything you write?\”

    By your own omission you have no idea what you are talking about. Here\’s an idea, get out of Gresham and come into the city, you already have the invite.

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  • beefa December 22, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    no response Adam? Typical troll

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  • toddistic December 22, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    beefa were you at ask street saloon on thursday? i might have met you. todd (grey jacket)

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  • Smilie December 22, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    Beefa, I am down for the alleycat. May want to give adam extra time to catch the max from Gresham to downtown though. Lets say 5:30 or 6pm.

    And while I am on the subject, adam- you actually work on bikes and talk like this? Did your mother not love you enough when you were growing up? Since you asked, I enjoy it when a car honks at me. Lets me know they see me, on my \”crappy bike\”. I forgot we have met before. Silly me.

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  • dumbness December 22, 2007 at 8:31 pm

    So I don\’t know if anyone bothered clicking on the KATU story link from J\’s posted article or not, but it\’s pretty hilarious and revealing. The second freaking sentence claims that fixies are brakeless, \”like the bike that you rode when you were a kid\”. Nice to know those reporting the \”facts\” of this stupid and otherwise pointless story are also completely ignorant and misinformed (just like the cops, really!)

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  • beefa December 22, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    Alley cat it is!!!!!!!!
    Who wants to name it? I\’ll start. How about. \”Adam and his Ignorance Alley Cat\”
    Thats My first submission. Not great and very specific. IF you have a good one regarding this thread your admission is free!!

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  • Smilie December 22, 2007 at 9:01 pm

    \”Adam\’s Big Mouth Alley Cat\” \”The Web Troll Alley Cat\” \”Adam in the big city\” \”The Gresham Bike Shop Invite\”

    Many more to come.

    I am sure nerf has something to say on the subject.

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  • SkidMark December 22, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    Adam, if you actually know what a \”fixie\” is and how to ride one then you also know that it can be stopped without a handbrake. The only way you will be accomplishing that on a freewheeled BMX bike is by sticking your foot on the tire. In other word the BMX bike does indeed have NO BRAKES. Do you understand the difference?

    I don\’t care if you are a sponsored pro BMXer, riding with no brakes whatsoever on the street is stupid.

    And don\’t pretend that the overwhelming majority of these tickets haven\’t been given to messengers.

    BTW I have never said I was a messenger.

    You sure do talk big from the comfort of your keyboard.

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  • jay December 23, 2007 at 2:18 am

    p.s. wsbob, could you be anymore of a sappy idealist? it\’s time to jump into the reality of things, bud.

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  • nerf December 23, 2007 at 3:47 am

    \”hes not going to show his face-cat\” ….
    its all i got right now. beefa has my vote.

    lets do it at 6:15, i have mail runs until 6.
    hey adam if you ever want to chat face to face i\’m 6\’3 200pnds with dreadlocks, you can find me >:)

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  • zilfondel December 23, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    This whole issue is just retarded. Police by their nature are authoritarian… hello??? They arrest people who commit crimes! And the law is currently ambiguous because 2 judges ruled 2 different ways.

    Put a brake on your bike already… geez, whats it to ya? Bunch of whiny emo cyclists. Doesn\’t mean you have to USE the damn thing!

    This whole issue reeks of elitist bike snobbery.

    I\’d honestly rather have my elected officials work on real issues like, oh say funding education, universal healthcare, racial discrimination, etc than bike brakes. (whether the Oregon legislature actually works on ANYTHING useful is another story)

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  • Seth Alford December 23, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    Jonathan, an FAQ for this topic is needed. (FAQ is a Frequently Asked Questions list.)

    Since I made the suggestion, I\’m going to try starting one. Please note that I borrow heavily from all the other postings on Jonathan\’s blog on this topic, both above, and from previous articles. In particular, tonyt and a.O.\’s postings on separation of powers (see #31 and #38, above) inspired A9.

    Usual caveat: I am not a lawyer (IANAL.) If you want a legal opinion, go find a lawyer and buy a legal opinion from him/her.

    I should also point out that I don\’t own a fixed gear bicycle, and I\’m not even sure that I now someone who owns a fixed gear bicycle. Why does this topic bug me enough to draft an FAQ for it? See A9, below.

    Q1: What is a fixed gear bike?
    A1: (Answer needed. Perhaps the answer is just a link to one of the many fixed gear FAQs that are already out there on the web?)

    Q2: How do fixed gear bikes stop?
    A2: (Answer needed. Perhaps another link to one of the many fixed gear FAQs?)

    Q3: So, fixed gear bikes, without a front brake, have no brakes, right?
    A3: Wrong. (Answer needed. Again, link to an existing FAQ.)

    Q4: Aren\’t two brakes better than one, and, therefore, aren\’t fixed gear bikes with no front brake illegal?
    A4: Two brakes may be better than one. But, that\’s not the point. The law does not require a front brake. The law, as written, contemplates that a bicycle will not have a front brake by inclusion of the phrase, \”make the braked wheels skid\”. Note it does not say make both wheels skid.

    Q5: So if the only way to stop a fixed gear bike with no front brake is with a skid, they are dangerous and are illegal, right?
    A5: Wrong. The law says that the braked wheel(s) has to be able to be skidded. The law does not say that the only way to stop a bike is to put it into a skid. The law does not say both wheels must have brakes (See Q4.) The reason (needs citation) the law is phrased this way is because there is no point equipping a bike that exerts more braking force than is required to make the tire skid. If the brake mechanism exceeds the force required to overcome friction between tire and pavement, then the brake is strong enough. Putting a stronger brake on the bike won\’t stop the bike from skidding. (This question will need updating on 1/1/2008 when the new law takes effect.)

    Q6: Is the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) right when it says fixed gear bikes without a front brake are illegal?
    A6: Again, I\’m not a lawyer (IANAL.) My plain text reading of the law (see Q4 and Q5) does not lead to the conclusion that a front brake is required. Courts have both agreed, and disagreed, with PPB\’s contention.

    Q7: Can\’t the traffic court judge rule that fixed gear bikes without a front brake are illegal?
    A7: My opinion again, and IANAL. Not without a reading something in the statute which is not there.

    Q8: But, obviously, fixed gear bikes without a front brake are dangerous and should be illegal. If the PPB and the Courts can\’t say so, then how can I get them made illegal?
    A8: The Oregon Legislature generally makes these laws. I suppose that a City Council or a County Commission might make a more restrictive law for their city or county. But I suspect that they would rather just defer the issue to the state legislature. Also, remember, just because something is obvious for you, does not mean it is obvious for the rest of us. Expect fixed gear riders, and others, to object strongly.

    Q9: I don\’t ride a fixed gear bicycle, so why should I care?
    A9: Review your civics, specifically, the concept of separation of powers. If the PPB and traffic courts are allowed to rewrite this law, then they can rewrite any law. The next law they rewrite may affect you. For example, since skinny tires have poor traction on wet pavement, PPB may decide to next target bicycles with less than 32 mm width tires (about an inch and a quarter.) Can your rims and forks accept tires that wide? Since you don\’t care, you\’ll be OK with going out and buying new rims and tires, or maybe, a new bike, that meets the new standards, right? Repeat the question for rim brakes versus disk brakes, Cateye Opticube versus Niterider Moab headlights (at least 10 times more expensive,) etc.

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  • Schrauf December 24, 2007 at 8:22 am

    Good point Seth. And just as it is dangerous (to our rights) to allow the police to enforce laws that do not exist, it is dangerous to let them ignore some laws that do exist – failure to yield to a cyclist in a bike lane when turning right, and injuring or killing that cyclist, for example.

    At least in that instance, the citizen-initiated citation is being implemented. I suppose such a citation would not work against officers who are enforcing non-existant laws. I\’m not sure what the \”offense\” would be. What officers are allowed to do in \”protection of public saftey\” is fairly broad, whether a law is being broken or not.

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  • Adam December 24, 2007 at 10:35 am

    Yes, this is obviously a major threat to our loss of liberty. This is the cause, not a symptom. If we could only make sure the few dozen tickets that have been written are never repeated, our liberty and democracy will finally be brought back into balance!

    It is all so clear now!

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  • Covertcyclist December 24, 2007 at 11:07 am

    It\’ll be crystal clear once cops start handing out tickets for being moronic internet trolls.

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  • SkidMark December 24, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    A fixed gear hub is a brake. The rest of the world thinks so.

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  • wsbob December 24, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    A fixed gear hub can be used as a brake. It\’s just not a very good one for most people inclined to safely ride bikes in traffic on public streets with motor vehicles. Since there doesn\’t currently seem to be a law on the books specifying certain required bike brake systems I imagine that could be a possibility some time in the future.

    The conditions under which braking is required is a big factor here. It seems reasonable that when a cyclist is out riding on a road where the intersections and motor vehicles aren\’t so frequent, the need for an easy to use, efficient and effective brake system such as a caliper/hand-lever design wouldn\’t necessarily be so critical.

    In a situation such as downtown Portland, where the hope and anticipation is that numbers of cyclists will grow far beyond where they are now, the need for such a system seems to be far more significant.

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  • Anonymous December 24, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Seth, 141:

    Review your civics, specifically, the concept of separation of powers. If the PPB and traffic courts are allowed to rewrite this law, then they can rewrite any law.

    Nobody has \”rewritten\” any laws. Review your civics lessons, Seth. The role of the courts is to interpret the law in a way that is lawful and in accord with the meaning the legislature intended, and to apply the law to the facts at hand. If the legislature says that bikes must be \”equipped with a brake,\” it\’s up to the courts to interpret what the legislature meant by \”equipped with a brake.\”

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  • rixtir December 24, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Seth, 141:

    Review your civics, specifically, the concept of separation of powers. If the PPB and traffic courts are allowed to rewrite this law, then they can rewrite any law.

    Nobody has \”rewritten\” any laws. Review your civics, Seth. The role of the courts is to interpret the law within what the law allows, and in accord with what the legislature intended the law to mean, and to apply the law to the facts before it. If the legislature says that all bikes must be \”equipped with a brake,\” the courts must decide what the legislature intended by \”equipped with a brake.\”

    If you disagree with that interpretation, you can appeal to a higher court, and hope that the higher court will agree that the legislature intended the law to mean what you say it means, or you can go to the legislature and hope the legislature agrees to write the law according to your interpretation.

    One thing\’s for sure in all of this, though: If some people decide to engage in a pissing match with the cops, they\’re going to get pissed on.

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  • SkidMark December 24, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    wsbob, keep on pretending that everyone\’s bikes are in tip-top condition, and that steel rims+rain doesn\’t reduce braking power to near zero. A fixed gear hub functions the same in all conditions.

    Obviously not as good as a fixed hub and a front brake, but that is not required.

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  • wsbob December 24, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    Who\’s pretending what? How many serious riding cyclists use steel wheels? Aren\’t most people using aluminum wheels? I know mine are. I\’m afraid it\’s true that some really low-end bikes, that are about all some poor people can afford may still use steel wheels, but it seems like steel is not so common anymore.

    A fixed gear hub used as a brake may function the same in all conditions for those with the strength, co-ordination, skill and experience to use them, and that\’s a key point. Whoever is involved in more clearly defining the law as it refers to a standard of braking equipment required for bikes is going to have to determine whether the fixed gear hub w/lockring can be considered safe for legal use by the public on city streets.

    Hey! Have a great christmas everyone !!

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  • jay December 24, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    I really don\’t understand the problem with the idea that a fixed gear hub takes practice to stop well means that all fixed gears need brakes so the newbies don\’t kill themselves. If I got into a stick shift car right now, I\’d likely get into an accidnet on account of not knowing how to drive it. Is there laws against me driving said stick shift in traffic as long as I have my license? Nope. The law is not working in it\’s \”one size fits all\” approach where a veteran rider capable of controlling their bike in an expert fashion is ticketed along with the newbie who has no idea what they\’re doing. In a real life situation, fixed gears can give all the stopping power you NEED to ride safely and bike messengers are a complete testament to this fact.

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  • SkidMark December 24, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    Not every rear handbrake will stop you in 15\’ from 10mph. Not every coasterbrake will stop you in 15\’ from 10mph. Why should a fixed gear hub get more scrutiny and consideration than any other braking device?

    Even with their \”fad\” interest and all the \”hipsters\” trying to gain \”street cred\” there is no spike in accidents involving fixed gear bikes without handbrakes. You know for a fact that if that was the case the media would be all over it, considering the the way they are all over the non-issue of fixed gear bikes without handbrakes.

    Their safety is a non issue. The issue is that two Police Officers are interpreting the law as they see fit and continuing to harass the same group of cyclists over and over.

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  • Dabby December 24, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    ( Vance wrote)
    \”Shit, there are only a couple of riders on the road in the 201 since 1990. Since one of them wouldn\’t be caught dead posting a comment in here, that leaves Stefa. This is the guy that wanted to strike a messenger pose so badly, that he took the job of the only girl riding at the time. Hence the nickname, TIS-girl, Stefa. I wouldn\’t be drawing attention to your past if I were you, holmes. You are, without a doubt, the biggest poser to ever pull tags in PDX.\”

    Well, I finally figured out who this irritant Vance is…It all makes perfect sense.

    So, to set the record straight, as pointed out above, Lisa Lisa was and always will be, the TIS girl. She worked in the print shop, didn\’t ride for a living till many years later.

    The girl that Steefa replaced was someone else, (a hippy girl comes to mind?) she had a wreck after working for a few days and quit, so I got him the job. He in no way had anything to do with her losing her job. She simply couldn\’t cut it.

    If you are going to slander Steefa, you better have your facts right, cause he is bigger than you…

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  • peejay December 25, 2007 at 11:25 am

    If somebody cannot safely operate a \”brakeless\” fixed-gear bike, then they should probably not ride one on public streets until they can do so. If somebody cannot maneuver a rear-wheel-drive sports car that has over 400hp around a corner in the rain, then they should probably not do so on public streets until they can.

    Neither vehicle is illegal, and if only one of them were, I\’d be inclined to ban the sports car, since 400+hp cars have only one purpose, and that is to be operated at speeds far in excess on the legal speed limit, whereas a \”brakeless\” fixie is designed to be operated at speeds generally below the legal speed limit, and the lack of caliper brakes encourages a more careful, thoughtful operation of the vehicle.

    In either case, the police have no power to cite the operators of either vehicle until they break a law. They may not assume upon the operator a level of skill insufficient to legally operate that vehicle, until such time as the vehicle is operated illegally.

    I can think of many other examples of perfectly legal vehicles which are not appropriate for all licensed operators to use. For motor vehicles, there are manual transmissions, lack of power steering or power-assisted brakes, some of the larger rental trucks, or right-hand-drive vehicles. All of these require skills beyond what is required legally to obtain a license, yet none require any additional endorsement such as would be required for a motorcycle. And as for motorcycles, one could get their endorsement after being tested on a scooter, and then be legally able – but certainly not anywhere near skilled enough – to operate a 200hp superbike.

    So, as I said, if you cannot lock up the rear wheel of a fixie, don\’t ride one. If you do anyway, and fail to stop at a light or stop sign, then the police have the right to pull you over. End of story.

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  • Curt Dewees December 26, 2007 at 11:43 am

    For a long time I had a difficult time understanding the fascination with riding a \”pure\” track bike on city streets, even though one must forgo the use of a hand brake. [I ride a fixed-gear, but it\'s a bastardized 1980\'s era, lugged-steel road bike, complete with a working hand brake and a flip-flop rear hub. Embarrassing! Disgraceful!)

    But I\'m learning to accept the brakeless fixed-gear gang as valid and interesting subculture, a unique branch of our larger bicycling culture. True, they sometimes pay a price for their uniqueness and \"purity,\" (traffic tickets, etc.) but what the heck. For diehards, being true to one\'s culture is worth the cost.

    It\'s enlightening to read this statement from the homepage of Alien Bikes:

    \"We at Alien Bikes have chosen and spec\'ed our products not based on some calculated market research, but rather based on what we want to ride. (When I said we, you know I meant me...) We figure that if we want bikes like this, somebody else does too.

    \"Aesthetics play a big part in fixed gear cycling, and if you think flip-flop hubs are an eye-sore (like we do), and that holes (water bottle, brakes, fenders!?!) ruin a frame, you\'ve come to the right place. You are a fellow purist. [etc.] …\”

    http://www.alienbikes.com/index.html

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  • SkidMark December 26, 2007 at 11:57 am

    News flash Curt:

    Many people who have a \”pure\” track bikes also have other bikes, sometimes they are even conversions with handbrakes. Sometimes they have (gasp) GEARS!

    Anybody who bases their decisions about building THEIR OWN BIKE on what others think is cool is an idiot.

    Yes, some new jumping on the bandwagon companies will try to exploit the aforementioned idiots.

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  • rixtir December 27, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    If somebody cannot safely operate a \”brakeless\” fixed-gear bike, then they should probably not ride one on public streets until they can do so. If somebody cannot maneuver a rear-wheel-drive sports car that has over 400hp around a corner in the rain, then they should probably not do so on public streets until they can.
    Neither vehicle is illegal

    Not true, peejay.

    That 400 HP sports car must meet, among other things, DOT equipment standards in order to be sold in the United States, and if it’s an import, it must meet those standards in order to be imported. Once that car has been sold, it must meet the requirements of the state vehicle code in order to be legally operated on the roads. Generally, state vehicle codes require automobiles operated on the road to meet DOT equipment standards for that automobile. Thus, if the owner of a motor vehicle has not removed state-required equipment, the car is legal. If the owner has removed state-required equipment, the car is not legal.

    That fixed-gear bike must meet CPSC equipment requirements before it can be sold in the United States. Under CPSC regulations, all bikes sold in the United States for use on the road must be equipped with brakes; the only bikes exempt from this requirement are track bikes and “sidewalk bikes” (i.e., bikes for very young children). The CPSC regulation clearly indicates that track bikes are exempt from the requirement to be equipped with brakes because they are not intended for use on the road. Once the bike has been sold, it must meet the requirements of the state vehicle code in order to be legally operated on the roads. Thus, if the owner of a bike has not removed state-required equipment, the bike is legal. If the owner has removed state-required equipment, the bike is not legal.

    In Oregon, bikes are required by state law to be equipped with a brake. The question that has been raised is “what is a brake?”, and the only way to answer that question in the courts is to ask what the legislature meant by “brake.” Preferably, the legislature would have included a definition of “brake” in the statutes; however, the legislature has not yet seen fit to provide a definition. Until the legislature does provide a definition, it is up to the courts to attempt to understand what the legislature meant by “brake.” Because the state vehicle code equipment requirement mirrors the CPSC equipment requirement, and because the state vehicle code performance requirement mirrors the CPSC performance requirement, the most reasonable interpretation of legislative intent is that the state requires bicycles operated on the roads to meet CPSC equipment and performance standards—and because the CPSC specifically excludes track bikes from the equipment requirements under the premise that track bikes will not be operated on the roads, it stands to reason that a fixed gear is not a “brake” under CPSC equipment standards, and thus, a fixed-gear bike with no separate braking system can not be legally operated on Oregon roads.

    Your statement that “neither vehicle is illegal” is thus (likely) incorrect.

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  • wsbob December 27, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Nice work Rixtir. Sounds good to me.

    Unfortunately for those riders determined to ride non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes under this murky acceptance of what constitutes a legal brake for bikes, cops have the right and obligation to interpret the present law according to their best judgment, consistent with their job as officers of the law.

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  • James Mason December 27, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Riding a fixed-gear bike with no hand brake is nuts. It\’s especially nuts in Portland, with wet streets and wet metal on those streets. I raced in Portland back in the 60s. Now I\’m almost 60 years old and I still ride. That\’s cause I was taught to ride right. Low gears, plenty of off-season spinning, good position on the bike. Riding with no brake is a great way to blow out your knees. You do it once and that\’s it. You\’ll never be 100% again. Setting up your bike according to fashion is crazy. You\’ve got to go with what works. My current track bike is a 3Rensho NJS with factory drillings for brakes. I\’ve got Dura-Ace front and rear….I like to be able to stop. Let the fashionistas make their statement. If you want to be still riding when you\’re old and slow, take care of your legs!

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  • SkidMark December 27, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    How many people took the wheel reflectors off their bike? CSPC requires them, so you better put them back on because until you do your bike is \”illegal\”.

    The Consumer Products Safety Commission has no authority over bikes on the road only how they are equipped when they are sold. The DOT has similar authority.

    Safety equipment on truck, cars, motorcycles, and bicycles is regulated by each states vehicle code. Some states have annual safety inspections too (except for bicycles) where things like lights and brakes are checked.

    And once again wsbob I wil remind you that there are only a few Police officers in this entire nation who will roll up next to you, ask you to stop and then when you do STOP give you a ticket for \”no brakes\”. Harassment is not their right, nor their obligation.

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  • rixtir December 27, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    How many people took the wheel reflectors off their bike? CSPC requires them, so you better put them back on because until you do your bike is \”illegal\”.

    No, the bike is only illegal if state law says you have to have reflectors.

    The Consumer Products Safety Commission has no authority over bikes on the road only how they are equipped when they are sold. The DOT has similar authority.

    Safety equipment on truck, cars, motorcycles, and bicycles is regulated by each states vehicle code.

    Which is eactly what I said above…so what\’s your point?

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  • SkidMark December 27, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    Bikes like the Schwinn Madison and Specialized Langster come with all the CSPC equipment BTW including a nice set of dual-pivot calipers. You can buy a Fixed gear bike with brakes very easily. Nobody is holding a gun to anyone\’s head and saying, \”Don\’t put brakes on your fixed gear bike!\”

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  • SkidMark December 27, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    rixter:

    If you agree they have no authority then what are you basing your assertion that \”a fixed gear bike without a handbrake is illegal\” on?

    And if you think that a fixed gear bike without a handbrake is illegal because of what the CSPC says then wouldn\’t it follow that a bike without it\’s wheel reflectors is illegal too?

    I would make T-shirts that say \”Keep Fixies Safe and Legal\” but I would not trivialize being Pro-Choice like that.

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  • rixtir December 27, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    SkidMark, I already explained it in post 157.

    A bicycle with the brakes removed before it \”enters into commerce\” is illegal under federal law. A bicycle with the brakes removed by the owner after purchase is only illegal if state law says it\’s illegal. And that\’s what this entire controversy is about.

    I think in most states, reflectors are only requiredf when the bike is operated during \”periods of darkness.\” I.e., it\’s not illegal per se to remove your reflectors, as long as you\’re not operating your bike during periods of darkness.

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  • SkidMark December 27, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    So you don\’t know what lighting equipment/reflectors are required per ORS? (hint: wheel reflectors aren\’t) and you are going to speculate as to whether a fixed gear bike without a handbrake is legal?

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  • rixtir December 27, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    Give it a rest. I\’m on the phone with my girlfriend while I\’m typing, and it doesn\’t allow me the opportunity to look through the statutes as carefully as I otherwise might. For what it\’s worth, I did look at ORS 845.280 while also trying to talk with my girlfriend and tping that response, and yes, there is no wheel reflector requirement. However, I wouldn\’t make a definitive statement about the ORS just based on a cursory examination, especially when I regularly deal with statutes in 50 states.

    And of course, none of that has any bearing on whether my earlier analysis of what the State of Oregon might mean by \”brake\” is legally sound or not.

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  • wsbob December 27, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    \”Harassment is not their right, nor their obligation.\” Skidmark

    Yes, and the idea that those officer\’s actions are \’harassment\’, is merely an unfounded conclusion. It\’s just yours and some other\’s people\’s opinion in regards to the officer\’s judgment that some people take exception to.

    If you think it\’s fact, then prove it. If those cops (\”… there are only a few Police officers in this entire nation who will roll up next to you, ask you to stop and then when you do STOP give you a ticket for \”no brakes\”. skidmark)really do have a personal axe to grind, then there\’s probably some facts out there to support it. You only need to find them and use them to back up your claim.

    By the way, the statement expressed in the parenthesis above is ridiculous, and you should be able to easily understand why it is. I imagine the cops are looking not just for the ability to brake, but for a related performance level that in their judgment, meets the specified requirements of the law. Right now, it\’s not clear that non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes do.

    As I keep thinking about non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes and understand better how they actually function in a braking situation, the less inclined I am to think it\’s a good idea to make them legal for heavy traffic situations such as downtown Portland. It seems clear that a person wanting to brake such a bike needs to apply reverse pressure to the pedal between the 220 degree and 310 degree points on the revolution of the cranks. On the right side, that would be like between 7 and 10 on the clock.

    You can only brake with one leg at a time, so that makes this system closer to a coaster brake in terms of basic function than it does to front and rear caliper or discs with hand levers. Unlike braking with coaster brakes though, the non-conventionally braked fixed gear bike rider has got to be able to abruptly counter the forward motion of the cranks against the force of inertia transferred to the pedals in order to actuate their brakes. It seems likely that this requirement from the rider makes these bikes more difficult and less consistently manageable in a high traffic situation than coasters. At least in theory. Coasters suck because they get hot easily, and then they don\’t brake so well. At least they did on my old Schwinn. That\’s why there\’s calipers/ rim shoes, and disc brakes.

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  • toddistic December 28, 2007 at 8:54 am

    A caliper brake when wet does much worse than fixed gear. newsflash: we live in an environment that is 7-8 months out of the year is wet. Unlike many, I have ridden both caliper controled and fixed gear bikes and I feel that fixed gear have superior braking ability in all types of weather because the stopping power directly corrilates with the ability of a back wheel to move. Since I have experience with both, unlike many my opinion has some validity as someone who has used both. If you have not ridden a fixed gear then there is very little validity to any point you could make about fixed gear bikes.

    Fixed gear cyclists believe they have the stopping power, if they didn\’t you would see numerous statistics to back up your assertions with a large number of cyclist related collisions riding fixed gear.

    wsbob @ 167 shows how little he understands about how fixed gear braking occurs because the assumptions made in his posting clearly show he does not. I would challenge anyone who thinks they understand how the braking ability of a fixed gear bike works without riding one stop posting or try it out.

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  • pete December 28, 2007 at 9:27 am

    Perhaps unicycles should require brakes. Ignorance and legislature is like peanut butter and jelly.

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  • rixtir December 28, 2007 at 10:07 am

    wsbob, 167:

    the idea that those officer\’s actions are \’harassment\’, is merely an unfounded conclusion.

    wsbob, I have no doubt that the handful of messengers who have been repeatedly ticketed are telling the truth when they say that they are being targeted by Officers Barnum & Balzer. The reason should be obvious to anybody past the age of adolescence: Despite being cited for an equipment violation, the handful of people receiving these tickets have stubbornly refused to correct the equipment violation. And the officers in question are just as stubbornly insisting that they will continue to issue citations until the equipment violations are corrected. It\’s a pissing match, and in a pissing match with the cops, the messengers are going to lose. It\’s all been covered in adulthood 101; check your notes.

    Toddistic, 168:

    My understanding of braking systems would lead me to belive that disc brakes are the system that have \”superior braking ability in all types of weather.\” Even the other proponents of brakeless fixies have admitted here that they are not as efficient at braking as other types of brakes, but have noted accurately that superior braking efficiency is not mandated in the law. What is different in wet conditions, according to my reading, is the \”feel\” your rear wheel gives you about the amount of traction you have (or don\’t have).

    Unlike those who have not experienced riding fixed, Sheldon Brown understands very well how fixed gear braking works, and he unequivocally advocates that fixed gears should not be operated on the road without a brake:

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

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  • rixtir December 28, 2007 at 11:04 am

    As a follow-up to my previous posts, I\’d like to make it clear that I believe that the messengers in questio b are being targeted by Officers Barnum & Balzer. I also believe that they are skilled riders who are easily capable of stopping their \”brakeless fixies\” without using a separate braking system. And because they are skilled capable riders, I believe they should be allowed to operate their fixed gears without the use of a separate braking system.

    However, as a matter of public policy, it\’s unwise to rewrite the law (and let\’s be honest here, for a change– it\’s the proponents of \”brakeless fixies\” who are attempting to rewrite the law) to allow any rider, no matter how unskilled, to remove mandated safety equipment from the bike for the sake of a fashion statement.

    The question, then, is how to balance those competing interests– on the one hand, skilled riders who want to demonstrate their level of skill by removing their brakes (because, let\’s be honest again, there\’s nothing in the current law that says you can\’t stop using your fixed gear, even though your bike is equipped with a separate braking system), and on the other hand, the interests of the vast, vast majority of society in not having unskilled vehicle operators remove mandated safety equipment from their vehicles.

    One way to balance those competing interests is to favor the interests of the vast majority by discounting the interests of the handful of skilled riders– i.e., to maintain the status quo.

    Another way to balance those competing interests is to favor the interests of the handful of skilled riders by discounting the interests of the vast majority– i.e., to rewrite the law such that any rider, no matter how unskilled, may legally ride without a separate braking system.

    I believe there is a third way to balance those interests, in a way that respects the interests of both the vast majority and the handful of skilled riders. There is most likely more than one way to achieve this \”thrid way.\”

    For example, one way would be to create tiers of skill level– those who are skilled enough to ride without a separate braking system, and those who aren\’t– and would probably involve testing of braking skill and licensing to ride without a separate braking system.

    Another way would be to allow any cyclist to ride a fixed-gear without a separate braking system, but to create a rebuttable presumption of negligence if the cyclist is involved in an accident. Of course, a presumption of negligence would be meaningless unless cyclists were required to be insured.

    There may be other \”third ways\” to achieve a balance of these competing interests. One thing is clear, however– while under the current law, the interests of skilled fixed-gear riders are sacrificed for the sake of the majority, and under the wished-for rewrite, the interests of the majority are sacrificed for the sake of a handful of riders, in any third way to balance these competing interests, there will be trade-offs that may be distasteful.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) December 28, 2007 at 11:26 am

    \”And because they are skilled capable riders, I believe they should be allowed to operate their fixed gears without the use of a separate braking system.\”

    Rixtir… when I spoke with Sen. Ginny Burdick after her now infamous move axing the fixed-gear bike clarification from the new law, I mentioned to her that the main issue was with messengers.

    She said she would be interested in working with them.

    I suggested that maybe they could have some sort of license or ID card that would allow them to operate a fixie while performing the duties of their job (delivering packages).

    I know this type of suggestion might be perceived as sacrilege by some, but if messengers want to continue to thrive and even improve their work conditions, perhaps a bit more regulation in this area would help.

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  • wsbob December 28, 2007 at 11:33 am

    Rixter, you say \’targeted\’, but is that the same as harassment? You\’ve got to have something more to prove harassment than a handful of citations arising from the opinion of cops that certain bikers aren\’t equipped with a brake. Get the cited messengers to come up with something outside of the fixie brake issue, and then this might go somewhere. Otherwise, that claim is dead in the water.

    As I speculated sometime back, there probably is a personality conflict between cops and messengers. So, what\’s new about that? People in general don\’t particularly like cops unless they need to get bailed out of a jam. I wouldn\’t be at all surprised if there was a special level of animosity exchanged between the messengers and the cops. If someone believes that, in the case of the cops, it\’s harassment and not just legitimate targeting of offenders, they\’re going to have to convince a superior that can make them back off.

    \”If you have not ridden … then there is very little validity …\” toddistic

    The action theorized upon doesn\’t actually have to be personally experienced in order for it to have validity. I expect that comparative scientific studies of non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes and conventional bike brake systems no doubt, exist. Some such studies would likely have been conducted by the people that designed various bike brake systems to qualify for their patents. I\’m feel fairly confident that those studies would back up what I\’ve said in this casual discussion about how actuating the braking of non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes works.

    I skimmed over the Sheldon Brown article quickly. Especially interesting in regards to fixie braking was his mention of eccentric contraction:

    \”Some fixed-gear fans make a point of not using their brake except in an emergency. I am not sure that this is a good idea. Heavy duty resisting is widely reputed to be bad for your legs, and to be counterproductive for building up muscles and coordination for forward pedaling. Eccentric contraction is reputed to cause micro-tears to your muscle tissue, so it actually weakens your muscles, unlike other forms of exercise.\” Sheldon Brown

    Note: by \’brake\’, he\’s referring to a front wheel mounted caliper brake, which he encourages fixed gear bike riders to use.

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  • toddistic December 28, 2007 at 11:55 am

    wsbob@173

    Please cite said scientific studies… since you seem to be referencing them or was that entire paragraph a carefully disguised cloud of smoke? :)

    If think patents validate safety then you really don\’t understand the US Patent system.

    I have a great deal of respect for Sheldon Brown and while I do have a rear caliper brake on my fixed gear, I rarely use it and never rely on it in an emergency.

    If we are trying to quantify that fixed gear bikes are more hazardous, any look downtown at some of the morons who try and navigate the streets on their bikes will point otherwise.

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  • rixtir December 28, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    wsbob, from what I\’ve read, officers Barnum & Balzer seem to be going out of their way to look for and cite the same handful of messengers over and over and over again. Apparently, once one of these messengers is spotted, even though blocks away, the officer will pursue and stop the messenger in order to conduct an equipment inspection.

    The officers know the messengers in question are skilled riders, and they also know the messengers in question stubbornly refuse to equip their bikes with brakes. So when these two officers see these particular messengers, they make a point of stopping them. I think it\’s a cop thing– if a cop tells you to fix your equipment violation, and you stubbornly refuse to do so day after day, it\’s a challenge to the cop\’s authority, and the cop will respond accordingly.

    There was a traffic case in Texas that illustrates the point. A cop stopped a driver and cited her for not wearing her seat belt. A week or so later, he saw her again, and again she wasn\’t wearing her seat belt. He arrested her on the spot, because he had just issued a citation to her the previous week for the same violation. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, resulting in a further diminishment of our fourth amendment rights:

    http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2000/2000_99_1408/

    Jonathan, I think what you proposed is the kind of compromise that\’s going to be engineered. In fact, some cities– Chicago, for example– already require licensing of messengers, including a –hope some of you are sitting down– helmet and insurance requirement:

    http://www.messmedia.org/messville/CHGO_ORD.HTM

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  • wsbob December 28, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    Toddistic, I think you will be the one that will benefit most from researching that material, since it\’s you that seems to be convinced of the non-conventionally braked fixed gear bike\’s superiority in stopping over other bike brake systems. Have at it man!

    I thought the idea was to consider the safety level of fixed gear bikes in downtown Portland, not to try and figure out a way to \”…quantify that fixed gear bikes are more hazardous,…\”. A reasonable level of safety is all that needs to be maintained.

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  • SkidMark December 28, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    Jonathan:

    I don\’t like the idea of licensing because it still means that people would be needlessly pulled over while just riding along obeying traffic laws. The Police can wait until they catch someone actually not being able to stop, then write a ticket.

    Another reason I don\’t like it is because there are plenty of skilled fixed gear riders who can ride without a handbrake out there who aren\’t messengers.

    And…if you only had one bike, and you are bike messenger, does that mean you are subject to getting a ticket for \”no brakes\” when you aren\’t at work?

    The simplest solution is to discipline these two Police Officers, telling them not to pull over anyone riding a fixed gear bike without a handbrake unless they actually make a moving violation, or if they are riding in an unsafe manner (unable to slow down or stop, for instance).

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  • rixtir December 28, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    I don\’t like the idea of licensing because it still means that people would be needlessly pulled over

    Not if a state-issued license was attached to the bike.

    As I said above, there are trade-offs involved in balancing competing interests, and the question then becomes \”What trade-offs?\”

    The simplest solution is to discipline these two Police Officers, telling them not to pull over anyone riding a fixed gear bike without a handbrake unless they actually make a moving violation, or if they are riding in an unsafe manner (unable to slow down or stop, for instance).

    If the issue is whether somebody is a skilled rider able to make a controlled stop– for instance, while descending a hill, or in an emergency stop– then your solution does nothing to ensure that only skilled riders will be allowed to legally ride without a braking system, because it will be extremely unlikely that the cops will be there at the precise moment when the unskilled rider is unable to make an emergency stop, or when the unskilled rider is unable to safely descend a hill.

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  • rixtir December 28, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    Even if the license were carried on the rider\’s person, the cops could only pull the rider over once for a equipment violation/license check. After that, there\’s no probable cause to make a stop, and the rider has some legal recourse.

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  • peejay December 28, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    rixtir:

    OK, haven\’t read all the comments in the past day, but I have to say that you (in #157) missed my point in #154, either through my lack of clarity, or your lack of understanding. I gave plenty of examples of vehicles that should not be driven by some people who have every LEGAL right to drive those vehicles, such as manual transmission cars, overpowered cars, etc. Each of those vehicles has characteristics to their control and behavior that go above and beyond the abilities of some – if not most – of licensed drivers to operate them. Those people who lack those skills should not operate those vehicles, despite their legal right to do so.

    I was attempting to draw a parallel between this reality and the reality that someone who doesn\’t know how to skid or skip-stop a fixie shouldn\’t ride one without a caliper brake. Once you see that parallel, you might conclude, as I do, that we should not ban \”brakeless\” fixies just because everybody who can ride a bike cannot ride one. Or you might conclude that we should ban manual transmission cars, high powered sports cars, trailers, etc. But you cannot do one without the other.

    Now, of course, this supposes that \”brakeless\” fixies are not already banned, and since judicial rulings have come down both ways on this one (under the old law – and I\’m interested what might happen under the new one), it\’s safe to say that there\’s room for doubt on that. All your stuff about CPSC etc. aside, it\’s the courts who decide this.

    By the way, it\’s not that hard to learn, rixtir. I give you a standing offer of skid instruction on any of my (caliper equipped) fixed-gear bikes. You\’ll be laying down rubber in about an hour or so!

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  • SkidMark December 28, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    Sorry, but I don\’t think the legislatur or the Police need to be that far up anyone\’s butt.

    So have this nice stripped down track bike, and you supposed to hang some big ugly license plate on it?

    The danger doesn\’t exist. If it did the Police and the media would be all over it. This is still all about percieved danger – paranoia.

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  • Carl December 28, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Peejay,
    Your reasoning makes a lot of sense to me. Excellent analogies. Thank you.

    In this scenario, I\’d really rather that the police were ticketing for offenses, rather than supposed equipment violations. It seems like a tidy solution. If it ain\’t broke, don\’t fix it and if it\’s fixed…don\’t require everyone to brake it.

    (I\’m glad you\’re making sense, \’cause I\’m not.)

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  • Peter December 28, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    The law requires a brake on the bike. The logical twist required to construe a fixed gear as a brake can only be rationalized if the bike is mounted by a rider (for purposes of this argument, I choose to ignore the qualifications, experience, or condition of the rider, obviating the drunken hipster exception. Let\’s even assume the chain line is correct and the chain stays on, always). Without a rider to impart active and intentional force (pedal backward, skid, whatever), the fixed gearing is no more a brake than an ascendent hill on an imagined or potential route. A fixed gear bike with a mounted rider might well qualify as having a brake, but that the same bike, unmounted, certainly does not have a brake. Since an unmounted fixed gear bike does not have a brake, and bikes are required by law to have a brake, the bike doesn\’t have a brake most of the time, and the law is broken. This is why you get tickets when the Police wait for you by your steed.

    I ride a fixed gear with 2 brakes. They work well. I like to go, I like to stop, I like to ride. I can\’t imagine why I\’d remove them and put myself into a position to get stuck by the man for something as base as impractical obstinacy. If it\’s not for fashion, it must be for something. The low-maintenance / rim-saving argument doesn\’t wash – most people spend more dough on spoke cards, skidded-tire replacements, and top-tube protectors than they\’d ever save in brake pads and rim wear. If not for fashion, then for what?

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  • SkidMark December 28, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    No bike has a brake without a rider, someone has to squeeze the lever, or backpedal to engage the coasterbrake.

    I had a fixed gear commuter with two brakes(three including the fixed hub), but I sold it. It was great for loooong rides, but I hardly ever used it. The track bike was lighter and more responsive.

    Having a stripped down bike is not just for fashion. If you don\’t have handbrakes your wheels can go pretty far out of true before they rub anything. If you were working and your rim got bent up you could still finish the day. A beat up track bike without handbrakes looks like an abandoned piece of junk to the untrained eye, a definite benefit when your bike spends half it\’s day unattended. For me, my track bike actually goes to the track sometimes, and no brakes are allowed. I guess I am too lazy to take a brake off AND flip my wheel over to the smaller cog. I also don\’t see the point of having a handbrake that I don\’t use anyways.

    As far as what it costs in tires Maxxis is making a $10 700c x 23 and a Vittoria Zaffiro is about $5 more. Forego one happy hour a month and it is paid for. Of course, if skidding is the only way you know how stop, then you should have a handbrake.

    Also, spoke cards are free when you enter an alleycat race.

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  • Dabby December 28, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    \”I suggested that maybe they could have some sort of license or ID card that would allow them to operate a fixie while performing the duties of their job (delivering packages).\”

    I hate to be the one to inform you of this, (you probably already realize this) but this would never fly, for many reasons……..

    Regulation of just messengers, and not other cyclists, has been tried here in the past. (and in other cities)

    Depending on how you look at it, it is as bad as the police targeting messengers.

    Instead now it would be the government targeting them.

    And while it would not be successful, it could possibly open the door to all of you being licensed and regulated, and then not far down the line, forced to pay to ride your bike, carry liability insurance, pay extra tax on tires, lube, etc. ( to help pay for maintenance of the roads we help destroy of course)

    Maybe they could just GPS us all, satellite sync it up to the traffic system, and they could send us tickets for offenses in the mail, without even a witness or proof.

    And the GPS can allow them, in the case we get hit and killed by a car, to save even more money and precious police resources, to not even have an officer show up, but instead just send a limo from the mortuary.

    And maybe we will even get to take our bikes in and pay to have then checked for safety, and to make sure there is not too much lube dripping off the chain onto the road surface. And I hope your brakes pads are earth friendly, cause the rain may take the residue straight down a storm drain, and kill some salmon. (they were here first)

    Some of you may not be allowed to ride your bike out of your own neighborhood, due to inability.

    You can look forward to standing in line with your 4 year old, not only to get them a permit to ride, but to pay for the ability to prove that you can safely teach them to ride.

    And then when the training wheels come off, you can go get in line again to upgrade their license.

    Or;

    People could remember that this city, and many of you, rely on this invaluable service that messengers provide. A service that will prove a thousand times more valuable as gas prices, and populations, continue to rise.

    They could remember that the majority of messengers are professionals, with more traffic related cycling experience than a professional/recreational racer, a commuter, and a weekend warrior combined, and begin to do the right thing, which is:

    Leave them the hell alone so they can work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It is difficult enough to survive most working days on the road, without having to worry, and even change your route,(difficult to do effectively in a city of one way streets by the way) due to the fact that you know you are going to be pulled over, and you are not even breaking any laws.

    I am so glad I retired. And so sad….

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  • peejay December 28, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    So today, I practiced for the changeover in the law from the definition of braking as being able to skid the braked wheel, to the current one of 15 feet fro 10mph. And, in the wet, I was able to consistently pull it off without reaching for my brake lever. And I\’m by no means a talented fixed-gear rider, so I think anyone could do it if they had to. The deal is, most people don\’t have to because they don\’t have bikes that require them to stop with their feet. So the idea that most people cannot stop a fixie is kind of silly. They don\’t know how because they don\’t have to. Thus, it doesn\’t matter!

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  • Dabby December 28, 2007 at 8:49 pm

    Also,

    WSBOB wrote:

    \”Unfortunately for those riders determined to ride non-conventionally braked fixed gear bikes under this murky acceptance of what constitutes a legal brake for bikes, cops have the right and obligation to interpret the present law according to their best judgment, consistent with their job as officers of the law.\”

    Perhaps you do not have this little tidbit of information,(it hasn\’t been brought up much) but the Barnum and Balzer Cirus, for one example, will actually admit, while writing the ticket, to knowing that you are on a bike that has the ability to brake properly. They also just got done watching you stop safely when they pulled you over.

    So, while they are interpreting one thing,(properly I might add) and admitting to it, they continue writing the ticket, and hand it over.

    Then they forgo your right to prove (once again) that you have proper brakes, and the ability to stop within the required guidelines.

    Then they go to court, and under oath, LIE to the judge about the riders ability to brake, what happened at the stop, and about how they interpreted the laws we pay them to uphold.

    This is a huge violations of trust, abuse of power, and offense worthy of demotion , and or firing.

    These are police paid by the public (us) to do their job. One which they are not doing properly. (Not even close)

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  • peejay December 28, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    Rixtir:

    You say:

    The question, then, is how to balance those competing interests– on the one hand, skilled riders who want to demonstrate their level of skill by removing their brakes … and on the other hand, the interests of the vast, vast majority of society in not having unskilled vehicle operators remove mandated safety equipment from their vehicles.

    I don\’t get the math on this one. Who are the vast, vast majority of people put at risk by all these unskilled people who choose to ride bikes they cannot control? I just don\’t see it happening. If you can document these cases of people riding bikes they shouldn\’t be riding, and if it turns out to cause society as a whole some kind of measurable threat, please let me know. Otherwise, the only ones getting hurt by this silly interpretation of the law are the people who ride for a living and who know what they\’re doing.

    Offer stands, rixtir. Name the place and time!

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  • wsbob December 28, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    Dabby, seriously, it might be worth your time to get together with the other people that feel they\’ve been unfairly targeted by the officers you mention; Barnum and Balzer. See if you at least have grounds for a formal complaint against those officers. Personally, if you\’ve got any hope for a positive result from such an effort, I\’d try and resist the temptation to mention their names together with words such as \’circus\’.

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  • Dabby December 28, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    I personally would call them the Barnum and Balzer Circus to their face, is not a problem. Really.

    Someone else is already on top of gathering and dealing with this info, as you suggested, by the way.

    I have not received a no brakes ticket. Which negates me doing anything about it, sadly.

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  • jay December 29, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    \”The low-maintenance / rim-saving argument doesn\’t wash – most people spend more dough on spoke cards, skidded-tire replacements, and top-tube protectors than they\’d ever save in brake pads and rim wear. If not for fashion, then for what?\”

    1. I don\’t know if you know this, but spoke cards are free when you race an alleycat.
    2. I don\’t know if you know this, but top tube pads are on the down-trend.
    3. I don\’t know if you know this, but tires are a lot cheaper than rims. A lot of times you get lucky and get FREE tires at your LBS free pile / dumpster! Perfectly good, rideable tires. I found 2 Continental GP 4-Season tires in some guys dumpster near NE 28th, that\’s about $80 worth of tire right there. They\’re still riding on my bike. And if you\’re paying for tires, there\’s plenty of solutions that hold up for a long, long time when you\’re skiddign and skipping around. Just because you haven\’t figured out which tires last longer doesn\’t mean others haven\’t.

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  • beefa December 29, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    I propose changing B and B\’s name to Ace and Gary.

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  • Schrauf December 29, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    Jonathan, buddy – no more fixie braking posts – PLEASE!

    Just kidding. Actually this thread is very interesting.

    I would love to get PoPo\’s input (the local cycling officer). Isn\’t he on here someplace? Although, there are probably some things he cannot comment on without risking his job…

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  • Cecil December 29, 2007 at 8:47 pm

    \”Who among you, that are actually riding regularly, has not seen the stereotypical hipster douche or douchette, careening out of control on a brakeless fixie?\”

    Heaven forbid that I would ever qualify as a hipster douche or douchette – mainly because I am without a doubt far more easily stereotyped as an uptight bougie DINK – but this post made me laugh because it pretty accurately describes my first attempt to bring my new fixie to a halt without using my front or back caliper brakes.

    Fortunately, I was conducting my test on a traffic-less stretch of pavement, or it could have been uglier than it was.

    Even before my own experiment, I was of the belief that the additional caliper brakes were a good idea, and not just because the law as it is presently written requires them. I am a skilled rider, and I have very strong legs, and I could not properly stop the damn bike without resorting to the caliper brakes. Over time, and with practice, I am sure I would get there. But I am guessing that there are an awful lot of folks (I won\’t be so crass as to refer to them as gynecological hygiene devices, but I believe that Steve\’s other description is pretty accurate) that will never acquire that skill and will, if they have no hand brakes, eventually be in or cause and ugly accident.

    (I might add that, judging by the number of people I know and that are in my income group who are acquiring fixies and single-speeds, those bikes will soon no longer be hip at all but will, instead, be as hopelessly bourgeois as I. Time for the hipsters to move on to penny-farthings . . . )

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  • Dabby December 30, 2007 at 1:48 am

    Cecil,

    Take it out and ride it a couple of days in a row, and you will have the braking down,(quickly and easily) and wonder why you ever doubted the ability to stop without a redundant caliper brake. Do this without relying on your caliper brakes, as it appears you have front and rear.

    People want to just sit on the seat, stop pedaling, lock up their legs, and slow down. It does not work this way.

    But that is how you turn on the mechanical bull though.

    One of the keys, (I believe I told Peejay this in the NW on one of Roger\’s Tuesday night rides) is this: (Keep in mind this is a male reference, adjust to your own sex)

    To effectively stop, and skid with control a fixed gear bike, you need to get comfortable with leaning forward far enough to lay your balls right up on your stem. This, for a few times, is spooky, awkward, and a moment of serious commitment.

    But once applied and learned, it is easy, and solves the problem, transferring the weight from the rear end. This allows you to easily apply back pressure to the cranks. It also can lift the wheel off the ground, allowing you to hop stop, or skid left and right, using your hips and or shoulders, with precision, to pull yourself out of an \”emergency situation\”. ( or just have fun skidding)

    This method of skidding is more precise than skidding with a caliper, cantilever, or V brake. Especially in foul weather. But not in fowl weather, as hitting a chicken would make anyone wreck. (Sorry)

    Hop stopping is picking up the rear wheel, then dropping it to the pavement, slowing or stopping the rotation of the wheel. This is a very effective way of slowing your momentum, on the flat or even downhill. It can also stop you entirely. And very quickly.

    By the way, many of the motions used to stop are likened to telemark skiing, the most graceful and skilled sliders of the slopes.

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  • Cecil December 30, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    Dabby – thanks for the tips. And I\’ll be sure to watch out for the chickens!

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  • wsbob December 30, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    Hey Dabby, that was a great description of the rather peculiar measures required in order to stop a non-conventionally braked fixed gear bike. Especially after reading it, no way would I ever let myself be caught riding such a bike downtown. I wouldn\’t give anybody else the slightest encouragement to do so either.

    The beauty of hand actuated calipers, discs, etc, is that braking force can be applied at any time the rider chooses by simply squeezing their fingers. No awkward, spooky body movements are required to do this, plus, riders so equipped have the option of a rear and a front brake; two-wheel rather than single wheel braking.

    Yes it\’s true that rain can dramatically counter caliper rim brakes stopping effectiveness, but except in the rainiest weather, this can be countered in turn by the rider bringing the brake shoes into contact with the rim in between actual braking times. In other words, \’riding the brakes\’, not so much to create actual resistance, but just to keep the pads relatively free of wetness.

    I\’m not too sure I understand how the hop stop makes for a more effective stop than a stop with both wheels on the ground. It\’s a mystery how lifting the only wheel on the bike that is used for braking, off the ground surface it needs to slow the bike, will actually make for an effective stop. Maybe it has something to do with greater pressure applied between road and tire when the wheel comes back down.

    I\’m thinking some smart messengers are going to eventually seize upon the idea of an occupation specific hybrid bike that suits their needs exactly; a super light single speed road bike equipped with front and rear mechanical disc brakes.

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  • SkidMark December 30, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    How long does a fad last? Five years tops? I think we are over the hump…

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  • leeh3760 December 30, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    Ok this \”fixed\” topic seems to have run amuck ,These laws are like seatbelt,motorcycle helmet,laws designed to protect us from ourselves.stupid maybe,beatable doubtful.the handbrake is not aesteticly pleasing.but the tickets cost $$$ Do you want to keep playing,you have to keep paying.Cops need to show they are doing something,what better way than keep having tickets issued in your name,safe for them ,nobody dies,city makes money everyone,s happy except you.put a handbrake on.sooner or laterthey will get bored,and move on to something really pertinate,like dine and dashers,or parking meters

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  • Dabby December 30, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    WSBOB,

    Thanks.

    I can see why such a description might sway someone away from trying to ride a fixed gear on the street, and really, that is just a fine result…

    I truly recommend to you though.
    I see your comments here all the time, which should also mean you read comments and articles.

    This points to you being well informed.

    So why would someone who is so well informed, who has been many times handed the facts on fixed gears from many experienced riders of them, still blindly decide that they have no safe brakes as is?

    I wrote that with the best of intentions, not to be negative, but to point out the obvious.

    Also,

    The last thing I would ever wanna do is have a rear disc brake on my fixed gear. Or a front disc brake for that matter. And, no one does, or is going to, make a disc specific fixed gear hub. Think about it…..

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  • Dabby December 30, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    To correct one sentence in the above.

    \”I truly recommend it to you though.\”

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  • wsbob December 30, 2007 at 7:54 pm

    Well, I\’ve never ever really had any doubts about messengers being able to skillfully handle their relatively difficult to brake bikes. Those people ride hours a day in the asphalt jungle for a living, and inevitably have urban street skills and abilities that most everybody else can only imagine for themselves.

    What I seriously question is the wisdom of legalizing the use of non-conventionally braked fixie bikes by the general public on public streets in particularly busy traffic situations such as downtown. Maybe lawmakers will have to deal with this issue in future and maybe they won\’t. By the time the legislature goes back into session next year, this controversy may have proven itself to be mostly a passing fancy, with messengers having moved on to another type of bike.

    Bike design and innovation has introduced many new ideas in the last 30 years. With increasing numbers of people considering whether bikes can meet their needs, I expect bike manufacturers will be aggressively exploring all kinds of ideas to capitalize on those needs.

    I\’ve just started to think and look at disc braked bikes, so I\’m not very familiar with how they work. I know someone that has such a bike…they rave about it. Those brakes have some problems, but they\’ll likely get better. Maybe there\’s some obvious reason they wouldn\’t work with fixed gear that I can\’t see presently. It\’s single speed with a freewheel that I thought would have been a good combination with disc brakes. That or a multi-speed hub, though those can get bulky, and they may not be tough enough for the work a messenger puts has to subject their equipment to.

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  • SkidMark December 30, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    If people could ride these bikes when they first appeared a hundred years ago why can\’t they ride them now? Has society been so dumbed down that they can\’t understand how the simplest type of bicycle works? Has society become so weak that they cannot bring themselves to a stop in the same way they are propelled forward? Does every machine made have to be usable to everyone?

    As far as seat belt goes, it\’s much better than hitting the windshield.

    As far as motorcycles go, if you are capable of 0-100mph in 10 seconds it might be a good idea to protect your head.

    I think it is a crying shame that we have to enforce common sense with legislation.

    Once again wsbob, fixed gear bikes without handbrakes ARE LEGAL, because they meet the stopping guidelines in the law in the hands of the proficient. And I will also remind you that only 2 maybe 3 Police officers in this city, and none anywhere else in the state are writing this ticket under the SAME circumstance.

    If the Police want to give tickets to cyclists downtown, they have plenty of opportunities to do so for moving violations.

    I really wish this stupid clusterf*ck would just be left alone by the press, and by all you so-called \”concerned citizens\”. As long as this is getting attention is as long as these messengers will continue to be harassed. As cyclists we should all be standing together, anyways. Maybe you\’ll change your tune when it is you that is the subject of harassment.

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  • SkidMark December 30, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    Believe me, if this were happening in San Francisco, NYC, Boston, or any other place with a large population a bike messengers on fixed gear bikes without handbrakes, we would be hearing about it, on fixedgeargallery.com messmagazine.net and oldskooltrack.com. But this really is the only place where a motorcycle cop will roll up next to a rider, ask them to stop, and when they do stop, give them a ticket for \”no brakes\”.

    Do anyone think it is absolutely ridiculous to bring your bike to a complete stop and the get a ticket for \”no brakes\”? I mean just stopped your bike. How did you stop, magic?

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  • Dabby December 30, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    It is happening in other cities…. Go figure.

    Wait a minute! It happened in one of the most high profile of cities, Washington D.C..

    And what did they do about it?

    They quickly changed the braking ordinance to legalize a fixed gear drive train. (without a redundant brake)

    Isn\’t that interesting?

    Here we had the ordinance change shut down by what sounded like a Senator\’s mother-daughter tea party.

    Go figure….

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  • Grimm December 30, 2007 at 11:30 pm

    This argument has been done to death. Jeez let the kids have their fun. Could someone get hurt? Maybe, but people choose to take all sorts of risks. And at this point there is no stack of dead (or even injured) messengers or even hipsters riding these \’out of control brakeless machines\’. Quite frankly its fun, and right now is fashionable in some groups. But these groups are pretty small in all reality, and at the heart of it some people can safely operate their brakeless fixed gear bikes. Isn\’t fining someone for doing nothing wrong pretty flat out discrimination?

    Im one of those riders who got the brakeless ticket, after making two full stops. [side note: prior to my ticket 3 cyclists blew a stop sign passing me and making a car with no stop sign halt at the intersection, but the officer didn\'t see that one I guess]. Brakes are a good idea, but like a helmet not necessarily the cornerstone of what makes cycling safe or functional. Currently I use a front brake for the time being as I dont want another ticket plus with the wet streets its nice to have.

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  • SkidMark December 30, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    Dabby, I\’ve posted that before. I\’ve actually posted the law itself. I\’ve also posted the UK law. They\’ve likely seen Ayla\’s video. They have probably seen fixed riders stop safely but haven\’t realized it because they stopped safely.

    They want to be blind to the truth that the safety of a fixed gear bike without a handbrake is a non-issue. They want to pretend that there is no way to safely stop one without a handbrake. They want to think it is OK for Police to just roll up next to you, make stuff up , and make you pay out your hard earned cash.

    Willful ignorance.

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  • wsbob December 31, 2007 at 1:08 am

    \”…in the hands of the proficient.\” Skidmark

    That\’s not what the law says. You wrote that. Help someone make an effort to turn it into law and you might have something.

    The press will never leave stories like this alone any more than flies will ignore sugar.

    \”concerned citizens\”, sarcastically written it seems. Why? This city belongs to many people that try everyday to find ways to peacefully and constructively live together. It does not belong only to a handful of bike messengers who seem to feel entitled to have laws effecting everyone in the city written or changed to suit the lifestyle of that handful of bike messengers.

    And why disrespect Senator Ginny Burdick for her efforts in this matter? She carries a lot of responsibility for how laws ultimately read and the resulting implications they could have for everyone. I just reread some of the comments offered by her in the interview she granted to editor Maus for this blog:

    site

    Those comments indicate awareness of factors of considerable importance to making a responsible decision in terms of to what extent fixie bikes should be allowed legal status in Oregon. People concluding that those comments are merely the outcome of a \’Senator\’s mother-daughter tea party\’ emphasize their own lack of understanding of the issues involved in writing and allowing a law to go into force.

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  • Dabby December 31, 2007 at 10:19 am

    WSBOB,

    Give it up!

    You are wrong about so many points on this.

    Once again you have no idea what you are talking about.

    This makes you part of the problem.

    Ignorance is bliss.

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  • rixtir December 31, 2007 at 11:42 am

    SkidMark, Post 203:

    If people could ride these bikes when they first appeared a hundred years ago why can\’t they ride them now?

    One might also ask when and why brakes became required equipment.

    Once again wsbob, fixed gear bikes without handbrakes ARE LEGAL, because they meet the stopping guidelines in the law in the hands of the proficient.

    SkidMark, you seem to be heavily invested in misunderstanding, not to mention mis-stating, the law. Your analysis can only be true if the barke requirement law contains only of a perfromance standard. It doesn\’t however; it also contains an equipment standard. Whether a fixed-gear meets that equipment standard may be a legitimate issue of contention, but to claim erroneously, as you continuously do, that the law only contains a performance standard, is not correct. Give it up already. You\’re wrong, no matter how many times you make that erroneous claim.

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  • rixtir December 31, 2007 at 11:58 am

    Peejay:

    OK, haven\’t read all the comments in the past day, but I have to say that you (in #157) missed my point in #154, either through my lack of clarity, or your lack of understanding. I gave plenty of examples of vehicles that should not be driven by some people who have every LEGAL right to drive those vehicles, such as manual transmission cars, overpowered cars, etc. Each of those vehicles has characteristics to their control and behavior that go above and beyond the abilities of some – if not most – of licensed drivers to operate them. Those people who lack those skills should not operate those vehicles, despite their legal right to do so.

    Peejay, I understaood your point. I only took issue with your assertion that \”neither vehicle is illegal.\” Consider, for example, if the driver of the 400 HP sports car removed safety equipment from his vehicle that is requiored by both DOT regulations and state law– would you still contend that his vehilce is not illegal?

    And what is it in your example that makes the bike a high performance machine requiring a highly-skilled operator to make it safe? The removal of required equipment.

    I don\’t get the math on this one. Who are the vast, vast majority of people put at risk by all these unskilled people who choose to ride bikes they cannot control? I just don\’t see it happening.

    Not quite what I said. I was discussing how to balance the interests of the handful of people who ride \”brakeless\” fixies with the interests of the \”vast, vast majority\” of society, essentially, those who doesn\’t ride a \”brakeless\” fixie. Apart from that relative handful of people who ride brakeless, there\’s no societal support whatsoever for making \”brakeless\” fixies legal.

    By the way, it\’s not that hard to learn, rixtir. I give you a standing offer of skid instruction on any of my (caliper equipped) fixed-gear bikes. You\’ll be laying down rubber in about an hour or so!

    Offer stands, rixtir. Name the place and time!

    Glad to! I\’ll PM you later on the forums.

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  • beefa December 31, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    Is this harassment?:

    A bike messenger walks out of the court house after unsuccesfully fighting a \”No Brakes\” ticket. Only to find the same officer which testified against the messenger moments earlier, standing next to his bike (which is locked up) writing a ticket for no brakes.

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  • rixtir December 31, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    Is this harassment?:

    A bike messenger walks out of the court house after unsuccesfully fighting a \”No Brakes\” ticket. Only to find the same officer which testified against the messenger moments earlier, standing next to his bike (which is locked up) writing a ticket for no brakes.

    Of course it\’s harassment. What other outcome would you expect when one obstinately refuses to comply with a fix-it ticket? Could be worse– in some states, you could and would be arrested, and perhaps even have your vehicle impounded. Here, you get tickets.

    And although the Ambiguously Gay Duo is often hilarious, calling Barnum and Balzer \”gay\” is just juvenile. Kind of explains why some people keep getting tickets for the same thing over and over again, though.

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  • beefa December 31, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    Rixir

    OK I was not calling them gay. I was insulting their \”machismo\”. It was an inside joke. Obviously you have never met them so you would not understand. My bad. This is not an appropriate forum for jokes.

    OK regarding your other statement. You agree with me that It is harrasment.(i assume you think its bad). yet in the next sentence you ask me what would I expect? I expect not to be harrased by the cops when I\’m in no violation of any F\”\”\”ing law in any book what so ever.Is conspiracy to commit as traffic violation a law that I do not know about??!! Please let me know. Please Rixtr Let me Know

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  • Dave December 31, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Umm, if you were not in violation of the law, why was your trip to the courthouse \”unsuccessful\”?

    I hope someone capable of legislating follows this thread and hears your continued pleas about how it is not illegal to ride without a brake. Then they can fix the problem. By writing a clear statute that makes it without a doubt illegal to ride without an actual brake. You know instead of the perfectly clear one we have now. The one that 99 percent of the population would read as making it illegal.

    You all sound like Bill Clintion parsing the definition of obvious words. You haven\’t found a loophole, you just sound like idiots.

    I own a fixie, since a few of you seem to think that is a requirement to have an opinion. I love that you keep getting tickets! Makes me laugh everytime I read your bleating and whining. It\’s good sport, and I thank you for it!

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  • beefa December 31, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    UGGH. I\’m Done. It was better when no one rode execpt a hand full of people.

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  • John Reinhold December 31, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    217 comments and still going. I\’ll jump in, although not to argue…

    It would be easier if there was a chart of who supported what. You know, like \”Red Light running\” or \”Fixies without brakes\” and we could just go to that chart ad see that so-and-so is opposed or supportive of something… No need to argue then.

    :)

    However, I do question the intelligence of someone who cannot recognize a system and operate within it. Getting the same ticket over and over just doesn\’t make sense. It would be better to spend that $$$ lobbying to get the law changed, than to keep getting tickets endlessly. \”Sticking it to the man\” does not include sending him a check for moving violations every month…

    I disagree with a lot of things that the PPB does, especially with regards to bikes. And while I disagree with many here about fixies safety – I also disagree with the way the PPB targets them and other bicycles.

    Anyway, for the record – I am not the \”John\” or the \”John R\” who posted earlier in this thread – This is my first post in this particular thread. Oh, and I too am not one of the \”cool\” or \”hip\” cyclists. I just ride my bike…

    :)

    And I don\’t expect this issue to get resolved as a result of postings on BikePortland…

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  • wyatt December 31, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    \”It was better when no one rode execpt a hand full of people.\”

    I often think the same thing.

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  • Dave December 31, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Beefa-

    As much as it may shock your narcisism and your delusions of grandeur, many of the people you are arguing with have probably been riding longer than you.

    Better when just a handful rode, eh? Sorry to crash your party, but I think it was better before you started riding!

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  • rixtir December 31, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    OK regarding your other statement. You agree with me that It is harrasment.(i assume you think its bad). yet in the next sentence you ask me what would I expect? I expect not to be harrased by the cops when I\’m in no violation of any F\”\”\”ing law in any book what so ever.Is conspiracy to commit as traffic violation a law that I do not know about??!! Please let me know. Please Rixtr Let me Know

    I think the cops could probably find better things to do with their time than to conduct an enforcement campaign against a handful of repeat, but more or less harmless, violators. For example, the cops could apply that manpower to investigating injury accidents, which they claim to be unable to do, given their manpower constraints.

    However, it\’s not unexpected that they would harass the same repeat violators. Understanding what motivates cops is not the same thing as wholehearted support. For anybody who is still baffled by what the cops are doing, here\’s my take on it. The cops and the messengers both work the same streets. The messengers behave as if they own the streets (e.g., they ride however they please– against traffic, through red lights and stop signs, on sidewalks, making turns from the center lane, etc. Whatever it takes to get their job done the way they see fit.). The cops, in turn see the streets on their beat as \”theirs.\” And that is a classic set-up for a confrontation.

    So one day, a cop cites a messenger for an equipment violation. The messenger pointedly refuses to correct the equipment violation; the next time the cop sees the messenger, the messenger is still sporting that equipment violation. So the cop cites the messenger again. And the messenger still pointedly refuses to correct the equipment violation. The messenger and the cop both know that the messenger is challenging the cop\’s authority, and if there\’s one thing a cop won\’t tolerate, it\’s a challenge to his authority.

    So now it\’s a matter of principle to the cop– he\’s going to continue to cite the messenger every time he sopts him, until the messenger complies with the law. So one day, the messenger goes to court on his most recent ticket, loses, and as he\’s leaving the courthouse, ther\’es the cop, writing another ticket, because once again the messenger has thumbed his nose at the cop by sporting that equipment violation. Yes, it\’s harassment, and when you understand that both messenger and cop know that the messenger is thumbing his nose at the cop, it\’s not unexpected that the cop will harass the messenger.

    I think Mark Ginsberg did an outstanding job of arguing that a fixed gear is a brake within the meaning of the law, but at the end of the day, he lost that argument. Unless he wins on appeal, or unless the legislature rewrites the statute, the law will still require a \”brake,\” which is an undefined term. Given that situation, I don\’t think your claim that you are \”in no violation of any F\”\”\”ing law in any book what so ever\” if you ride a \”brakeless\” fixie would sway the court.

    Not sure what you mean by \”Conspiracy to commit a traffic violation,\” though. If you\’ve been cited for that, I\’d be interested to know more.

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  • toddistic December 31, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    What\’s amazing to me is that you can stop someone riding a fixie for not having a caliper brake but we can\’t set up DUI checkpoints. It\’s more or less the same thing. Why we can\’t stop drivers to check to make sure they arn\’t drunk but we can stop someone who is riding a bike because of an equipment violation is beyond me.

    Priorities people!

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  • toddistic December 31, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    sorry meant to say \”alleged equipment violation based on loosely defined law\”

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  • wsbob December 31, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    Yeah Rixter…I wouldn\’t be surprised at all if you\’re exactly right about how the non-conventionally braked fixie ever became an issue to the cops in the first place. I doubt that messengers were the first people to ride track bikes on downtown streets. Does anyone know something more about whether that\’s true?

    At least some people probably rode those bikes regularly off the track on public streets for training and what have you. Maybe some of them got tickets, maybe they didn\’t. It would be interesting to hear people mention their related experiences. I\’ll bet they rode along and the cops never ever bothered them. The cops likely never ever bothered them because there probably weren\’t very many such riders and they weren\’t there for very long, unlike messengers that are downtown all day long as part of their job. And then there\’s the extraordinary potential for personality conflicts between certain cops and certain messengers.

    Perhaps it\’s because of the means of communication that the weblog provides, that we\’ve been hearing about citations for no brakes on fixies recently. I can\’t remember ever hearing about this issue before the case with messenger Ayla Holland.

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  • rixtir December 31, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    I don\’t know much about DUI checkpoints, but my guess is the law requires either \”reasonable suspicion\” or \”probable cause\” to stop somebody for DUI. Pulling over everybody to check for potential violations of a law doesn\’t meet that standard.

    However, pulling over a brakeless fixie rider does meet that standard, because the officer can tell with a visual check whether or not the bike is equipped with a brake.

    Personally, I\’d feel physically safer if they were doing DUI checkpoints rather than were harassing messengers.

    For every \”brakelss\” fixie rider who\’s been ticketed, here\’s a simple solution: Put a brake on your bike, and continue to stop with your fixed gear. It meets the requirement of the statute, which only requires a \”brake,\” but doesn\’t prohibit you from using your fixed gear to stop. It also saves wear on your rims. That\’s got to be cheaper than paying fines, which would easily negate any financial savings realized from not putting wear on your rims.

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  • anon December 31, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    hey dave check out #49

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  • SkidMark December 31, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    rixter:

    A fixed gear hub IS A BRAKE. It slows the bike and STOPS the bike. How is that not a brake?

    Please explain how a device that stops the bike is not a brake. And don\’t trot out that not a seperate device BS because a coasterbrake is not a seperate device and it is considered a brake. The drive clutch engages the brake shoes. You pedal forward, it is a drive, you pedal back, it is a brake. Sound familiar?

    I have been building my own bikes from the frame up, my own wheels from the hubs up, since I was 15, that\’s 26 years. I have worked in bike shops and I worked for Haro Bicycles in their design department. I think I know a little about bikes and what is and isn\’t a brake. Not that it matters, because common sense dictates that if the hub stops the bike, it is a brake.

    Too bad Beefa got the judge that corroborates with Barnum and Balzer. There is another judge that has ruled the other way, you can go ahead and dig the bikeportland.org article out of the archive yourself.

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  • rixtir December 31, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    A fixed gear hub IS A BRAKE. It slows the bike and STOPS the bike. How is that not a brake?

    Please explain how a device that stops the bike is not a brake.

    I already have explained, in my post analyzing CPSC and state law similarities. Of course, that\’s just a legal theory, and not a \”fact.\” Still, I think as a legal theory, it\’s far more sound than a bare assertion that a brake is a device that stops (or slows) the bike. As a dictionary definition, that assertion works. As a legal argument, it may work, but there is more to consider in legal arguments than what the dictionary says. For example, the courts must attempt to determine what the legislature intended the term \”brake\” to mean.

    To answer your question briefly, as a matter of law, it\’s not a brake in the meaning of the law if you say it is. It\’s only a brake in the meaning of the law if the legislature says it is. That\’s the bottom line.

    So far, the legislature has not seen fit to define the term \”brake.\” Therefore, it\’s up to the courts to try to determine what the legislature meant by the term \”brake.\” And so far, the courts have repeatedly shot the definition you espouse down. As far as I\’m aware, you\’ve had exactly one ruling that a fixed gear is a brake, and countless rulings that a fixed gear is not a brake. That\’s not a very promising record for your legal theory. That doesn\’t mean the trial courts are right, but until they\’re overruled by a higher court or the legislature, what they\’ve ruled is the law in that particular case. One ray of hope for your theory is that trial court verdicts aren\’t binding in any other trial. Still, that\’s not much hope to hang your legal theory on.

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  • Duncan December 31, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    If I get nearly hit by one more fixed gear bike whose breaking equipment can\’t match that of my narrow-tired bike on wet pavement at Madison and MLK/Grand I am going to start agreeing with the PPB. Three times this year, same place… come to stop at yellow hear \”LOOK OUT\” as fixed gear biker either skids to stop ten feet into the intersection or slides onto the pavement.

    I don\’t want to get creamed by someone else\’s ability to control their equipment.

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  • rixtir December 31, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    a coasterbrake is not a seperate device and it is considered a brake. The drive clutch engages the brake shoes. You pedal forward, it is a drive, you pedal back, it is a brake. Sound familiar?

    There is a significant similarity there, but also a significant difference: when you pedal backwards to engage the coaster brake, you\’re not attempting to muscle the crankset to a stop.

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  • SkidMark December 31, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    rixter: I am not talking in term of your interretations of law, I am talking about in the real world. If a fixed gear hub stops the bike, how is it not a brake? You won\’t answer that because you can\’t.

    I know you would like to abridge the past but here is proof that not every judge agrees with you and the Barnum and Balzer Circus.

    http://bikeportland.org/2006/09/05/cyclist-wins-fixed-gear-case/

    Here is an example of a legislature that doesn\’t have it\’s head straight up it\’s own a22.

    http://bikeportland.org/2006/11/22/washington-dc-fixes-their-fixed-gear-law/

    How come it is a brake on the east coast? Atmospheric conditions?

    So if you bother to look of read or comprehend you can find out fairly easy that I am not alone in my contention that a fixed gear hub is a brake.

    The CSPC allows the lowest quality bikes from China on the road as long as they have all their reflectors and what look like but barely function as brakes. They then get built by people who may or may not be bike mechanics and they are on the road. That is at least as safe as a fixed gear without a handbrake, even in the hands of a neophyte. And once again I will state they only have autority over what is sold new, not what is allowed on the road.

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  • rixtir December 31, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    SkidMark:

    rixter: I am not talking in term of your interretations of law, I am talking about in the real world. If a fixed gear hub stops the bike, how is it not a brake? You won\’t answer that because you can\’t.

    I\’ve already said above that under a dictionary definition, it is a brake. But in the real world– not in a bike builder\’s workshop, or in conversation amongst like-minded friends– but in the real world, there are laws, and courts to contend with. And in that real world, a dictionary is a legitimate tool for interpreting laws, but it is not the only tool, or even the best tool. The bottom line is that \”brake\” means whatever the legislature says it means. The ONLY reason there\’s any controversy at all over this issue is because the legislature hasn\’t explicitly defined what it means by \”brake.\” Thus, the courts are left with the task of determining what \”Brake\” means, and as I said, a dictionary is not the only tool, or even the best tool, for interpreting the law.

    I know you would like to abridge the past but here is proof that not every judge agrees with you and the Barnum and Balzer Circus.

    SkidMark, I already said that your interpretation has been upheld– exactly once– so why are you pretending that I haven\’t said that?

    Here is an example of a legislature that doesn\’t have it\’s head straight up it\’s own a22.

    A city ordinance, not a statute, and thus, not passed by a legislature, but yes, I\’ve been aware of that ordinance since it was first passed.

    How come it is a brake on the east coast? Atmospheric conditions?

    You know, SkidMark, this isn\’t as hard as you\’re making to out to be. A fixed gear satisfies the equipment requirement in D.C.– not the east coast, just in D.C.– because the City (read: legislature) says it does. And here in Oregon, the legislature has not seen fit to define what it means by \”brake,\” and thus, the courts must interpret what the legislature meant by the term \”brake.\”

    So if you bother to look of read or comprehend you can find out fairly easy that I am not alone in my contention that a fixed gear hub is a brake.

    While that may have some relevance in advancing a legal argument, it does not mean that simply because some people believe that a fixed-gear is a brake, that that is the meaning the legislature intended.

    The CSPC allows the lowest quality bikes from China on the road as long as they have all their reflectors and what look like but barely function as brakes. They then get built by people who may or may not be bike mechanics and they are on the road. That is at least as safe as a fixed gear without a handbrake, even in the hands of a neophyte. And once again I will state they only have autority over what is sold new, not what is allowed on the road.

    The CPSC regulates all bikes entering the \”stream of commerce.\” They do not regulate bikes once they have been purcahsed by the consumer. I stated that above, at least once, and yet you continue to attempt to paint my legal analysis as being msiinformed on that fact. Why is that?

    As far as the quality of bike that the CPSC allows into this country from China, that is irrelevant in terms of what is legal to sell and what is not legal to sell. And as far as what is legal to ride, the CPSC does not address that; the statutes do. And in Oregon, the statutes say you are required to have a brake on your bike…which brings us full circle to who determines what \”brake\” means.

    Anyway, my last post of the year. Happy New Year to you, SkidMark, and to everybody else.

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  • SkidMark December 31, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    Seems to me it would be very easy, using the new D.C. law and the preceding situation as a precedent, to assemble some legalese in support of a ruling against a \”no brakes\” ticket, but your opinion on the subject obviously gets in the way.

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  • rixtir December 31, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    I know I said it was my last post of the year, but I just had a brainstorm, and I think you\’ll forgive me for making this my last post of the year. What else is there to do tonight anyway, eh?

    But before I get to my brainstorm…

    Seems to me it would be very easy, using the new D.C. law and the preceding situation as a precedent, to assemble some legalese in support of a ruling against a \”no brakes\” ticket, but your opinion on the subject obviously gets in the way.

    I assume by \”preceding situation,\” you mean the trial where a judge ruled that a fixed gear is a brake? Let me know, because I\’m not sure what you meant.

    Anyway, there\’s no \”precedent\” in this state on the issue. Precedent is \”binding authority,\” and is only established on appeal. However, yes, you could use the D.C. law as \”persuasive authority\” in support of your argument that a fixed-gear is a brake. A court could choose to accept that persuasive authority in support of your argument that a fixed-gear meets the definition of brake as that term is specified in the law.

    However, a court could also find that the lack of specificity in the Oregon statute indicates that a fixed-gear is not a brake in Oregon. In other words, using the D.C. statute, arguments could be made in pro and con that a fixed-gear is a brake in Oregon.

    As far as that previous trial court verdict, it has no authority for other trial courts.

    Now, here\’s something I think might work. The State of Oregon requires every bike operated on the road to be equipped with a brake, but does not define the term \”brake.\” As far as I am aware, without actually having checked state law, there is nothing in the law that would prevent the City of Portland from passing an ordinance that requires bikes to be equipped with a brake, and that defines the term \”brake\” to include fixed-gear hubs. Such an ordinance would not be in conflict with state law, but would clarify that within the city of Portland, fixed-gear hubs are brakes.

    I must repeat, however, that I haven\’t yet checked whether Portland has the authority to pass traffic ordinances that are consistent with state law, but that is a power that many states permit to local governments, so it may be the case in Oregon as well.

    Personally, my feeling is that it is poor public policy to allow any rider, no matter how unskilled, to legally remnove the brakes from his/her bike, and so I would be inclined to lobby against any proposed ordinance that did nothing to ensure the competence of those riders who choose to ride \”brakeless\” fixies.

    But there it is, one way to legalize \”brakeless\” fixies.

    Have a happy new year everybody.

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  • Seth Alford December 31, 2007 at 11:38 pm

    I\’ve got several points of disagreement with rixtir.

    First, back in #148 rixtir argued that it\’s proper for a court to attempt to define what is or is not a brake under the current statute, which only has a performance standard. The danger there is that tomorrow, courts could decide that only disk brakes are proper brakes for bicycles. The possible argument: obviously, the legislature did not intend for bicyclists to use (in the judge\’s and ticketing police officer\’s opinion) ineffective caliper brakes. When it\’s raining, after all, caliper brakes get wet and don\’t work as well.

    Interpreting the law to disallow caliper brakes in favor of disk brakes is rewriting the law. Likewise, interpreting the law the disallow a fixed gear hub as a brake in favor of a caliper brake is rewriting the law.

    The legislature is the entity that\’s in charge of writing laws.

    And, no, the existing statute doesn\’t include an equipment standard, beyond that there be a brake. The statute doesn\’t say what form that brake should be. The statute merely says how well the brake should work.

    The current law, or even the new law, expresses that bikes have to be able to be stopped, with an economy of verbiage.

    Appeals cost time and money. Someone shouldn\’t have to file an appeal in order to get a judge to apply the law as it is written.

    rixtir in #220 wrote

    unless the legislature rewrites the statute, the law will still require a \”brake,\” which is an undefined term.

    One way to clear up the legislative intent question is to determine when the existing law started appearing on the books. 1980? 1920? Earlier? What kind of bicycles were on the road at the time? Did those bikes have separate brakes other than a fixed gear? Did the legislature debate the question? Do the minutes of that session still survive? I\’m not sure where this could be looked up. Anyone know? It\’s probably not online, so google won\’t help. Maybe the Oregon Historical Society? The Oregon State Archives?

    I do agree with rixtir on one point. For now, at least, riding a fixed gear bike without an additional brake in Portland will likely result in a traffic stop and ticket from PPB.

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  • peejay January 1, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Happy New Year everybody!

    I guess I just broke a resolution, but here goes. There are two arguments here, the first is centered on what the law really says, and the second on whether it\’s right or makes sense. As for the first point, I\’m not surprised at all that legal interpretations run both ways, because the law really could be more precise. I\’ve argued a little regarding the second point, that one cannot use the supposition that not all riders can safely operate a \”brakeless\” bike to justify their interpretation of the first point. I argued it by pointing out the many instances in which a legal driver isn\’t practically qualified to operate certain vehicles he/she is legally allowed to, and that\’s ok. They got a license to operate a class of vehicles because they were able to demonstrate skills and knowledge that allows them to operate at least some of the vehicles they could drive.

    But now here\’s my new point: when it comes to bikes, there\’s no testing requirement at all! We can talk about what the average bike rider can do and not do, but in fact, there\’s no preexisting legal requirement that a bike rider can even ride a bike. If we don\’t legally require all bicycles to be safe when ridden by people who cannot ride, then why should we require \”brakeless\” fixies to be safe when ridden by people who can otherwise ride a bike but not that kind? We cannot, and we certainly cannot use the lack of skill of the average rider to argue for a particular equipment/performance requirement in the law.

    Now it\’s not that I want to see people all over town jumping on fixies and and sliding through intersections because they don\’t know what they\’re doing. I just don\’t see that happening. What I see happening is people riding the bikes they can ride, and not riding the ones they cannot ride. We don\’t need a law to sort out what people are pretty good at sorting out for themselves.

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  • SkidMark January 1, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    They ARE legal. Nothing to legalize. They stop, therefore they are legal. Just because two cops have a stick up their @ss about them, and they have one judge that will back them up does not make them illegal. Nobody gets this ticket anywhere else in the state. I do a lot riding in Beaverton and Aloha and I have NEVER gotten any scrutiny from the local authorities for simly riding down the street on a track bike with no handbrake. Where I live there are both Sheriff\’s department and Beaverton Police patrolling and none of them ever give me a second look.

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  • SkidMark January 1, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    There doesn\’t need to be a \”testing\” requirement. Stopping when you are told to do so shows that you can stop.

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  • rixtir January 1, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Seth, 234:

    First, back in #148 rixtir argued that it\’s proper for a court to attempt to define what is or is not a brake under the current statute, which only has a performance standard.

    Seth, the statute requires a \”brake.\” That\’s an equipment standard. The old statute also requires that the brake be capable of skidding the braked wheels; the new statute requires that the brake be capable of stopping the bike within a certain number of feet. That\’s a performancew standard.

    Therrefore, you are wrong on your first point, that the law only requires a performance standard.

    On your second point, that it\’s proper for a court to attem,pt to define what is or is not a brake, see below.

    The danger there is that tomorrow, courts could decide that only disk brakes are proper brakes for bicycles. The possible argument: obviously, the legislature did not intend for bicyclists to use (in the judge\’s and ticketing police officer\’s opinion) ineffective caliper brakes. When it\’s raining, after all, caliper brakes get wet and don\’t work as well.

    Your point is nonsense. You celarly lack an understanding of WHY the courts are interpreting \”brake,\” despite my numerous explanations above.

    So one more time: The term \”brake\” is undefined in the ORS. Therefore, when an officer cites you for not having a bike equipped with a brake, and you offer as a defense that your bike is equipped with a brake, because a fixed geard hub is a brake, the court must decide what \”brake\” means.

    So the first thing the court must do is look to the ORS to see if \”brake\” is defined in the ORS; it\’s not. The court must then decide what the legislature meant by the term \”brake.\” This isn\’t an attempt at legislating from the bench, as you have hypothesized. It\’s the court\’s responsibility, brought before the court by the opposing arguments of the officer and the cyclist. And when a court has two opposing arguments on the meaning of a vague term, it has certain rules of statutory construction to follow. One way to interpret the meaning of a term is by its plain meaning. Another means is by using a dictionary. That is the means you espouse. It\’s not the only means, or even the best means, of determining legislative intent, and thus, a dictionary will not necessarily prevail in the courtroom.

    All that said, I think a traffic court judge doesn\’t really bother with rules of statutory construction; I think instead the judge uses a sort of gut feeling on the plain meaning of a word when legislative intent is unclear.

    Interpreting the law to disallow caliper brakes in favor of disk brakes is rewriting the law. Likewise, interpreting the law the disallow a fixed gear hub as a brake in favor of a caliper brake is rewriting the law.

    No, attempting to include a \”brakeless\” fixed-gear within the meaning of the term \”brake,\” when the legislature most likely diod not have fixed-gear hubs in mind when it wrote the statute, is rewriting the law…Something you apparently abhor only when it cuts against you.

    Interpreting a vague legislative term is most decidedly NOT \”rewriting the law.\”

    And, no, the existing statute doesn\’t include an equipment standard, beyond that there be a brake.

    That IS the equipment standard. How many times does it need to be explained?

    The statute doesn\’t say what form that brake should be.

    Not only does it not specify what type of brake a bike should be equipped with, it doesn\’t specify what a \”brake\” is…Likely, because until a handful of fixed-gear riders raised the issue, everybody \”knew\” what a brake is.

    Appeals cost time and money. Someone shouldn\’t have to file an appeal in order to get a judge to apply the law as it is written.

    One of the problems you are butting up against, apart from your misunderstanding of the statute, and the role of the courts, is that you apparently believe that because you have a plausible legal argument, the court must therefore accept your argument; otherwise, the court is \”rewriting the law,\” or not \”applying the law as it is written.\”

    The court is under no obligation to accept your aregument, or the officer\’s argument, just because the argument is plausible. The court IS under an obligation to apply binding law, and to interpret law where there is no binding law. While you may think your plauusible argument is the best argument, the court may disagree with you. Your argument that the court must accept your legal theory because \”appeals cost time and money\” is not a reason for the court to decide in your favor. After all, the other party could advance the same argument.

    As much as you may dislike the prospect, that is one of the few options available to you when a trial court rules against you. The downside is that there are sound legal arguments against your definition of \”brake,\” and there\’s a strong possibility that you would not prevail in the appellate courts aeither. You might, but it\’s not the shoo-in you seem to believe it is.

    One way to clear up the legislative intent question is to determine when the existing law started appearing on the books. 1980? 1920? Earlier? What kind of bicycles were on the road at the time? Did those bikes have separate brakes other than a fixed gear? Did the legislature debate the question? Do the minutes of that session still survive? I\’m not sure where this could be looked up. Anyone know? It\’s probably not online, so google won\’t help. Maybe the Oregon Historical Society? The Oregon State Archives?

    Finally, a legal argument that is right on the money. What you want is \”legislative history,\” because that will carry more weight than a dictionary definition of the term \”brake.\” Be aware, however, that there may not be a legislative history to consult, and that if there is, it may cut agaisnt your argument. Still, a good and necessary approach to trying to decipher what the legislature meant when it said all bicycles must be equipped with a \”brake.\”

    Your other suggestions– searching historical recortds– are good as well.

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  • SkidMark January 1, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Why do you continue to ignore the common sense and logic that if you can slow and stop a fixed gear bike by resisting the forward motion of the pedals that the fixed hub functions as a brake? It stops the bike!

    What else is stopping the bike? Magic? Are bike messengers defying the laws of inertia and physics?

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  • rixtir January 1, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    They ARE legal. Nothing to legalize. They stop, therefore they are legal.

    No matter how many times you mis-state the law, the law still says that your bike must be equipped with a \”brake.\”

    Now, before you say, for the umpteenth time, that \”a fixed gear hub IS a brake,\” I understand that that is your argument. However, the fact that you advance the proposition that a fixed-gear hub is a brake doesn\’t change the basic fact that the law has an equipment standard, and NOT just a performance standard, as you keep claiming.

    The question at issue is NOT whether the law has an equipment standard. It is patently clear that there is an equipment standard in the law. The question at issue is what the legislature meant by the term \”brake.\”

    Did the legislature mean a bike must be equipped with a device, separate from the drive mechanism, which slows the bike? Or did it mean to include braking with the drive mechanism?

    Did it mean that any device which slows the bike is a \”brake\”? Or did it mean the commonly-accepted caliper and coaster brakes? Or would any device work? How about a hand-held stick rubbing against your tire? Does that fall within legislative intent? How about the sole of your shoe rubbing against the pavement– does that fall within what the legislature intended when it required that a bike must be equipped with a brake?

    The legislature didn\’t define the term \”brake.\” It merely required that your bike be equipped with one, and because fixed-gear riders claim a fixed-gear hub is a brake, and the PPB claims a fixed-gear hub is not a brake, the courts must decide if a fixed-gear hub meets the equipment requirement you keep denying exists.

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  • rixtir January 1, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Why do you continue to ignore the common sense and logic that if you can slow and stop a fixed gear bike by resisting the forward motion of the pedals that the fixed hub functions as a brake? It stops the bike!

    So does scraping your shoe against the pavement. Is that what the legislature intended the term \”brake\” to include?

    Yes, skilled fixed-gear riders can stop their bikes without the aid of any separate brake mechanism. They can even stop the bike within the parameters of the braking performance requirement.

    Nevertheless, the question still stands– dis the legislature intend the vague term \”brake\” to include fixed-gear hubs?

    You have a plausible legal argument that a fixed-gear hub is a \”brake\” within the meaning of the law. However, it\’s not the ONLY plausible legal argument.

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  • SkidMark January 1, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    \”Yes, skilled fixed-gear riders can stop their bikes without the aid of any separate brake mechanism. They can even stop the bike within the parameters of the braking performance requirement\”-rixter

    Exactly. Thank You.

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  • rixtir January 1, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Meet the new year, same as the old year.

    :)

    Once again, happy new year to all.

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  • Cecil January 1, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    \”What you want is \’legislative history,\’ because that will carry more weight than a dictionary definition of the term \’brake.\’ \”

    Not necessarily. Read PGE v. Bureau of Labor & Industries, in which the Oregon Supreme Court explained its process in construing statutes, and then read the many, many, many cases that followed in which the court stopped at the dictionary (Webster\’s Third Int\’l, usually) even when the result was clearly contrary to the legislative history (Deluxe Cabinet Works v. Messmer is a fine example of a decision in which the Court of Appeals acknowledged that the legislature had intended the statute in question to have a certain effect, but then explained that the plain language the statute did not achieve that effect and, therefore, under PGE v. BOLI, the court was not able to apply the statute the way the legislature clearly intended it to be applied . . .)

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  • wsbob January 1, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    All interesting, worthwhile thoughts expressed for the most part. Laws, however they\’re written, are always subject to interpretation. Needs that arise to questions the exact intent of their wording and the fairness of it is where the courts and judges come into play.

    There are lots of seeming contradiction is law, because attempting to eliminate every eventuality of them occurring through writing is probably impossible. At best, attempting to do so would result in a byzantine, Kafkaesque society that would be impossible to negotiate. The complexity of our legal system is bad enough as it is.

    I think that as our society seeks to devise necessary laws, there is at least a conscious awareness of the need to try avoid being hopelessly lost in over-exacting specificity that might easily be redundant or become anachronistic too soon. For this to work, society has to rely on judges and others knowledgeable, experienced and responsible in deciding and administering law to make decisions where there\’s disagreement about the intent or fairness of laws. We as individual citizens can\’t go around making personal interpretations of laws and expect those interpretations to be acknowledged as law until they\’ve been reviewed and granted status as law by those individual people our society recognizes as the arbiters of such matters.

    However this issue over fixie bikes works out, I hope it\’s in the best and fairest interest of everyone.

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  • rixtir January 2, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Cecil, 244:

    I\’ll do that. It will be interesting to see what they have to say.

    I\’d have to say, though, that the sole of my shoe acts as a brake if I scrape it along the ground, so I doubt that a straight reading from the dictionary would shed as much light on what a \”brake\” is as people seem to think it would.

    One more thing about legislative history: It\’s often unreliable, because it can be manipulated. Less so, I think, with an old statute on bicycle equipment than with newer statutes on more contentious subjects, but it often isn\’t necessarily a reliable indicator of legislative intent.

    Seth, SkidMark:

    After reflecting, I\’ve realized that I may be misunderstanding one point you\’ve been making. You both say there\’s no \”equipment standard.\” I have said there is an equipment standard. I realized later, upon reflection, that you mean that while the law requires a brake, the law doesn\’t have a standard as to what a \”brake\” is. Essentially, we\’re saying the same thing, but in different ways. While I say that \”brake\” is the equipment standard, I also say that the term is undefined, which is what you\’re saying when you say the law doesn\’t have an equipment standard.

    Where we differ is in our understanding of who decides what \”brake\” means. I say the state, either through the legislature of the courts, decides what \”brake\” means. You believe that the term \”brake\” has a universal objective meaning that any person can understand, and therefore, the bike operator decides what equipment meets that requirement to equip a bike with a brake.

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  • SkidMark January 2, 2008 at 11:04 am

    \”Brake\” is decided by the fact that the bike slows down when you resist the forward motion of the pedals, and when the bike stops when you stop pedaling. If you had a freewheel you would keep going. With a fixed hub you stop. If it stops the bike it is a brake.

    This is the reason that the judge would not allow the video of Ayla stopping as evidence. It clearly showed that a fixed gear hub could stop a bike and skid on dry level pavement. With that video as evidence there is nothing you say to refute it, because there it is right before your eyes, the bike comes to a stop without a handbrake. If that video had been admitted, none of the other tickets would have been written.

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  • rixtir January 2, 2008 at 11:30 am

    SkidMark, first paragraph:

    \”Brake\” is decided by the state, not by the operator. Your stubborn insistence that a brake is whatever the operator says it is continues to result in convictions for those who believe, as you do, that the operator, and not the state, decides what a \”brake\” is.

    Second paragraph:

    DO you have any evidence that the judge excluded evidence becaue it would have made it impossible for him to find the defendant guilty? Or are you just making that up?

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  • SkidMark January 2, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    from \”Judge Finds Fault With Fixies\”

    \”Ginsberg offered to demonstrate to the court that Holland could easily bring her fixed-gear bike to a skid on dry, level pavement. The judge declined his offer.\”

    I am not sure that the video was offered up, but I don\’t know how else one could demonstate without bringing a bike into the courtroom. So if I am wrong about it, I am wrong. BUT, a demonstration of stopping ability (braking) was offered and the judge would not allow it, obviously because them there would be evidence of an ability to stop a fixed gear bike without a handbrake.

    Being that this is still a Democracy, \”brake\” is defined by the people. Better yet, it is defined by logic and common sense.

    I\’ll probably lose all my \”street cred\”, but I think I will just avoid downtown M-F during the day on my track bike until this BS blows over. I will continue to ride my track bike everywhere else, where the rest of the Police in this city and outerlying suburbs have better things to do then harass people while there are obeying traffic laws because the are riding a certain type of bike.

    Likewise I am done with this stupid argument. The only way you be in support of these two cops and their friend the judge is if you ignore the obvious fact that a fixed gear hub stops the bike within the requirement of the law and if it is capable of stopping the bike, it is a brake.

    The most assinine thing about this is that compared to the homeless being being harassed and swept out of downtown and that no health care is available for them and not enough shelter, and the rampant sale of drugs on the street downtown, and the meth and meth-related theft and identity fraud, and all the sex offenders running around, and the random Police shootings, this stupid problem should not even matter.

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  • Peter January 2, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    \”Is this harassment?: A bike messenger walks out of the court house after unsuccessfully fighting a \”No Brakes\” ticket. Only to find the same officer which testified against the messenger moments earlier, standing next to his bike (which is locked up) writing a ticket for no brakes.\”

    Nope, it is the Peter Principle in action. The Officer, incidentally, may have issues, too.

    The argument as to whether a fixed gear hub constitutes a brake is an ignoratio elenchi at best. In anticipation of argument on that point, I\’ll be more specific: the \”hub is a brake\” string in this thread is comprised of an amalgamation of argumentum ad hominem, populum, and baculum, with a smattering of verecundium, all of which add up to the material fallacy of irrelevant conclusion.

    If you get a ticket for doing a thing, it is against the law in the eyes of the legal authority at the time of the ticket. Your sensible recourse, should you disagree, includes appeal or contestation (again, please don\’t ride the bike to the courthouse; you wouldn\’t show up to a DUI hearing in the bag, would you?), lobbying, etc. You might not like it, you might not win, but until you can successfully facilitate a legislated change, the law binds you.

    And yes (Jay), I am aware of the provenance of spoke cards. I am cognizant of the recent downtrend in popularity of top tube protectors. I absolutely agree that found-for-free-garbage-dumpster tires are less expensive than rims. That said, I was not aware that while I might not have yet figured out which tires last longer, others (including you, clearly) have. I may be late to the party, but how common is the knowledge that the longest lasting tires are the free ones in the guy\’s garbage on 28th? How is he stocked for 650B x 38? Is it too late to get some of that sweet action?

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  • beefa January 2, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Peter:

    Retribuo per libertas
    edo continuo superstes
    Preferably daves\’

    this is my last one I swear!

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  • wsbob January 2, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Skidmark finally sees the light…. I wondered if that was ever going to happen. It occurs to him that it just might be worth risking the loss of his \’street cred\’ by staying out of downtown with the track bike \”…until this BS blows over.\”….whatever exactly that happens to mean to him. Maybe he thinks the cop duo+ will just get tired of ticketing fixies under the present law and find something else to do. Who knows? Maybe he\’s right.

    Maybe they\’ll get picked up for a Hollywood sit-com based on their quixotic challenge to the non-conventionally braked fixed gear bike invasion threat to Portland. Imagine the miracle of fame, fortune and magnetic attraction of hob-nobbing with britney and j-lo that could magically take them off the backs of the beleaguered Portland fixie bike messengers.

    My guess as to why the Judge declined Ginsberg\’s offer to see video footage of Ayla Holland stopping her non-conventionally braked fixed gear bike is that he didn\’t need proof that she could stop the bike. He likely understood that simple fact. What he needed to decide the case in Holland\’s favor is something that wouldn\’t have been present on Holland\’s bike in the video: A b-r-a-k-e. Until the law states that a track brake on public streets doesn\’t require some kind of commonly recognized conventional brake system, no amount of arguing into the wind is going to make those bikes legal on pubic streets.

    I guess it could be interesting to read the transcript of the Holland legal proceeding to hear how Ginsberg argued the case. Besides the performance standard, I wonder how he might have tried to argue that the bike is a brake. (Bike plus rider that is.)All the judge has to do is look at a track bike and be able to clearly see that it has no conventional brake, but if Ginsberg were to argue that the bike\’s drive train is a brake, that might more easily have provided the judge with something he could have readily seen as being a brake according to the wording of the statute. Because of the extra skill required from the rider to make such a brake work, I think even this would have been a long shot.

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  • 9 January 2, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    \”Until the law states that a track brake on public streets doesn\’t require some kind of commonly recognized conventional brake system, no amount of arguing into the wind is going to make those bikes legal on pubic streets.\”

    \”track brake\”

    \”pubic streets\”

    kind of funny.

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  • rixtir January 3, 2008 at 10:18 am

    SkidMark:

    from \”Judge Finds Fault With Fixies\”

    \”Ginsberg offered to demonstrate to the court that Holland could easily bring her fixed-gear bike to a skid on dry, level pavement. The judge declined his offer.\”

    I am not sure that the video was offered up, but I don\’t know how else one could demonstate without bringing a bike into the courtroom. So if I am wrong about it, I am wrong. BUT, a demonstration of stopping ability (braking) was offered and the judge would not allow it, obviously because them there would be evidence of an ability to stop a fixed gear bike without a handbrake.

    SkidMark, I can understand why it would look suspicious to you that a judge would decline the offer of a demonstration, and then find the defendant guilty.

    However, I think you\’re reaching the wrong conclusion, informed by your erroneous belief that if a bike can be stopped, it meets the requirements of the law. Because, if you believe that, then a judge could reach no other conclusion, upon seeing her stop her bike, except that her bike is equipped with a brake. And thus, \”the only way\” a judge could find her guilty would be to exclude evidence.

    In fact, the issue before the court is whether or not her bike was equipped with a brake, not whether or not she could stop her bike. And therefore, a demonstration of her stopping ability would only be relevant if the court finds her fixed-gear to be a brake. It\’s a two part test: (1) is the bike equipped with a brake; if so (2) does the brake stop the bike within the parameters of the law?

    In my opinion, I think the judge was accepting, at least for the moment, the defense\’s assertion that Ayla can stop her bike. The issue for the judge wasn\’t whether or not she can stop her bike (step 2), the issue was whether her fixed gear is a brake (step 1).

    Being that this is still a Democracy, \”brake\” is defined by the people. Better yet, it is defined by logic and common sense.

    Actually, it\’s a republic, not a democracy, and in a republic, the people do decide– through their representatives. Which is exactly the same thing as saying \”the state, and not the individual actor, decides what the law is.\”

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  • Carl January 3, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Let\’s not forget that the court hasn\’t really made its mind up about this issue:
    http://bikeportland.org/2006/09/05/cyclist-wins-fixed-gear-case/

    Rixtir, a dictionary may not be the best tool in court, but it worked for John Boyd when the court ruled that his fixed gear functioned as a brake.

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  • Carl January 3, 2008 at 11:25 am

    …and while we\’re at it, let\’s not forget that obese Dutch messengers are still being targeted for riding their vehicle of choice. Reason? No brakes!
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17710640

    Is Portland really clean and safe with our Clean and Safe officers whizzing about on those brakeless menaces? They use their drivetrain and powersource as a brake?! Ridiculous!

    Seriously, though: I\’d MUCH rather have Beefa, Steefa, and, for that matter, Queen Latifah cruising our sidewalks than those lazy yellow-jacketed rent-a-cops. If they brush me as they pass, they\’re less likely to tase me.

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  • SkidMark January 3, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Engage sarcasm detector wsbob. Like I care about street cred.

    How does the bike stop if there is no brake? Please explain that. Explain how someone defies the laws of physics and brings their bike to a halt without dragging their feet on the ground.

    Once again I will state that the UK considers it a brake, Germany considers it a brake, DC considers it a brake. Three instances of legislatures considering it a brake. True the UK and Germany also require a front brake, but that is on every bike. I am pretty sure the same holds true for the rest of the European Union.

    You also continue to ignore the fact that the rest of the PPB does not see it as illegal, and neither do any of the Police forces in the rest of the state. They only pull you over if you make a moving violation, as well it should be.

    I\’ll leave you alone to wallow in your ignorance, and denial of logic and common sense.

    This is the last time I will ever post on this ridiculous subject.

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  • rixtir January 3, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Carl, one thing that has confused Portland cyclists is the different rulings. How, if a court ruled that a fixed gear IS a brake, could the officers continue to write tickets? How could another court continue to find fixed-gear riders guilty? Rogue cops? Rogue courts?

    No. The courts are trial courts, and each trial courtdecides a case based on the law and the facts before it. In the case of fixed-gear hubs, the legislature has left the term \”brake\” vague (although, arguably, everybody knew what the legislature meant by the term \”brake,\” until a handful of fixed-gear enthusiasts made the argument that a fixed-gear hub IS a brake), and the appellate courts have not yet ruled on the issue. That means that there is no binding law for the trial courts to apply, so at every trial, the court must decide whether a fixed-gear hub is a brake.

    One judge, at one trial, found the defendant \”not guilty.\” Every other trial has resulted in a conviction. Because there is no binding law, the cops are free to continue to write tickets, and with the assistance of the D.A., who apparently has assisted in the prosecution of fixed-gear cases (indicating that this isn\’t just a case of two rogue cops), have hand-picked which judges will hear the cases (and just to be clear, I believe that defendants have the same right).

    Each trial court has made up its mind, when it ruled. What is true is that the question isn\’t a settled point of law– in other words, an appellate court could decide that a fixed-gear hub IS a brake, at which point THAT would be the law, unless a higher appellate court decided otherwise, or unless the legislature stepped in and clarified the statute to say that a fixed-gear hub is not a brake.

    Alternatively, the legiuslature could step in next session and speak to the issue one way or the other.

    I don\’t doubt that a dictionary is used in hearings– even Scalia uses a dictionary, especially when he wants to ignore established law.

    I don\’t even doubt that the argument in favor of fixed-gears being brakes within the meaning of the law is a plausible construction of the statute.

    I\’m just saying that there are more legally sound means of reaching a legal conclusion about the issue than resorting to the dictionary– even within the parameters of PGE v. BOLI.

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  • rixtir January 3, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Once again I will state that the UK considers it a brake, Germany considers it a brake, DC considers it a brake. Three instances of legislatures considering it a brake. True the UK and Germany also require a front brake, but that is on every bike. I am pretty sure the same holds true for the rest of the European Union.

    SkidMark, I would be interested in knowing more about the law on fixed-gears in Germany and the UK. Can you tell us more?

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  • rixtir January 3, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Sorry SkidMark, I didn\’t see your last comment, that you wouldn\’t be posting again on the subject. I wasn\’t attempting to lure you into posting again, but I really am curious about the German and UK laws, if you wouldn\’t mind enlightening us, despite your vow to stop posting on the subject…

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  • wsbob January 3, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    SkidMark, try and get your mind around the following: Portland is not the UK or the EU. Portland is not DC. Although we might look to other places for insights, ideas and examples, we make our own laws in this country. You might not like that, but it\’s the way we do things in this country.

    Obviously, the law and judge is looking for something more than being able to stop the bike. Other people, including myself, have made efforts on this thread to describe what that is. Simply said, those efforts have been directed towards describing an equipment standard for vehicles intended for use on public streets, particularly in heavy traffic situations such as downtown Portland. I truly hope that you\’re one of a very, very small number of people that so far, continue to fail to understand this.

    As for your favorite members of the PPB, without any info to back it up, I dispute the notion that the cops you derisively refer to(Officers Barnum and Balzer), are acting entirely on their own initiative to single out fixed gear and/or specifically messengers for the citations those riders have received for not having brakes on their bikes. They might be, but it\’s doubtful.

    Why? Because Officers Barnum and Balzer are just two little cogs in a big machine. Somebody assigns them jobs to do just as every subordinate in any job is assigned tasks by their superiors to be included in their daily routine. If Barnum and Balzer are not being given explicit instructions to cite these people for not having brakes on their bikes, I expect that they are at least receiving approval from the chain of command for using their discretion to notice and discuss them.

    That\’s why, if you think the cops are doing the law wrong, and you\’re pissed about it, you have to appeal to their superiors, like Sizer for example, in regards to the issue. It\’s going to do no good whatsoever to simply throw the cops a dirty scowl or flip them off when they pass you by on the street.

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  • wsbob January 3, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    I\’m trying to keep this from being complicated, but I might alter one of my sentences from above (post #260)by alternately saying:

    Simply said, those efforts have been directed towards describing an equipment standard adequately correlated to a performance standard manageable by people of average ability for vehicles intended for use on public streets, particularly in heavy traffic situations such as downtown Portland.

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  • wsbob January 3, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Oh boy…this seems to be a bad day for me… From above: \”If Barnum and Balzer are not being given explicit instructions to cite these people for not having brakes on their bikes, I expect that they are at least receiving approval from the chain of command for using their discretion to notice and discuss them.\”

    Make that: \”…and cite them.\”

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  • Mama Lu January 3, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    hi
    wow – lots of assumptions and no listening skills to the actual professionals…did we forget how to knock down our egos while we work in cubicles? maybe a lot of you should get a time out and re-schooled on this topic\’s truth…listen to the couriers…they actually have experience daily – it is their job to ride and deliver you your precious documents for your overly paid jobs…they know how to operate their means of transportation…unlike the majority of you who drive and don\’t know how to signal, NOT drive in bike lanes, nicking people with mirrors, not looking before you open your door…blah blah blah…leave it alone if you are not going to listen to reason…ALL of reason…
    oh, and yes, they are targeted…i work around downtown and stroll around the streets and ride most of the time without a handbrake…and the cops – they don\’t even look twice at me…
    but, funny story…the cops in the NE like \”fixed gears\”…one agreed that they function better than caliper brakes…and are cheaper to maintain…soooooo, now what do you have to say?
    probably something about sometimes riding with a handbrake? well, i have a pedal issue right now and no other bike to ride…so, in the event my cage slips, cuz my pedal is f*cked…then i have a hand brake…but, that\’s my own damn fault cuz i decided to get my daughter movies instead of me decent pair of pedals…good thing tomorrow is payday…
    oh, and please stop chewing on this issue…seriously, it\’s like a bunch of little kids not listening, or even considering the fact that you and the twiddle dum and twiddle dee couple are in fact wrong and ill advised…

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  • Seth Alford February 22, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    To answer my own question @234:

    It\’s the Oregon State Archives, http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/

    From their web page:

    Oregon State Archives
    800 Summer St. NE
    Salem, OR 97310
    Phone: 503-373-0701
    Fax: 503-373-0953
    reference.archives@state.or.us

    Hours: 8 AM 12 noon and 1 PM to 4:45 PM, Monday-Friday except state holidays.

    The web page claims that among other things, they have \”Various Oregon Code Books, pre-1953.\”

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  • rixtir February 22, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Seth, you can also get those at Lewis & Clark Law School.

    For what it\’s worth, I did look through them briefly when you asked before. I would have to take a closer look to be absolutely certain, but it\’s my impression that the brake requirement was put into place in the late 60s/early 70s.

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  • a.O February 23, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Having done a ton of research into our Legislature\’s \”intent\” in enacting various laws, I can tell you that you are unlikely to find anything even remotely helpful.

    And on something as simple as the meaning of the word \”brake\” in a bike bill, the chances that there was any relevant discussion is less than a meteor taking out the State Archives.

    If you bring up something like this in court, you\’re likely to get some quizzical looks. They\’ll rely on the dictionary definition if nothing else. They meant a device to stop the bike. You know, a brake. It\’s that simple.

    Anyway, if you look up the statute, at the end of each section there is some bracketed text that tells you when the bill was first enacted and each time it was amended. So no need for extensive research on that question.

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  • SkidMark February 23, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    You can slow a fixed gear bike and stop it without and handbrake, so therefore it has a brake. Simple, isn\’t it?

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  • a.O February 23, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Very. Too bad it\’s not what the Legislature had in mind. And really too bad that the PPB considers this a relevant enforcement priority.

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