Judge shows no respect for fixie case

fixed gear sign

The Portland Mercury Blog is reporting that Multnomah County Judge Dale Koch has denied lawyer Mark Ginsberg’s request to have his stack of fixed-gear tickets heard in a real courtroom, instead of in lowly traffic court.

Since the Ayla Holland case, Ginsberg has collected seven more cases of bicyclists being ticketed for not having a braking device on their fixed-gear bicycles.

According to the Mercury
, Ginsberg believes the fixed-gear issue deserves a real hearing, not just a hurried run through traffic court. He says Koch’s refusal to hear these fixed-gear cases by an elected, sitting judge (as opposed to a “pro tem” traffic court judge) raises “constitutional issues.”

Here’s what Ginsberg told the Mercury,

“It appears to me that many of the tickets given to cyclists lately are over-reaching the law, and as much as possible we will fight those as hard as we can.”

Ginsberg told me this morning that the problem is that he has no idea which judge will show up in traffic court until he gets there. He’s worried that he could show up with a fixed-gear ticket case and the judge will be the same one that has already ruled against him.

Ginsberg and his clients just can’t seem to get a break. Not only have the courts shown no respect to this issue, but according to many messengers, since the Ayla Holland case they are being unfairly hassled by cops and ticketed at a much higher rate than ever before.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

31 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Gregg
Gregg
16 years ago

Although I agree with him, I hope that lawyer did not use the term “real judge” in his argument. I can’t imagine that would be very productive.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
16 years ago

Actually Gregg that was me being an amateur journalist…”real judge” were my words not Mark’s. I have edited the post.

Tankagnolo Bob
Tankagnolo Bob
16 years ago

ITS REAL DATA TIME, LETS DO THIS THING!!!

I still await real studies. Can a fixie with no brakes stop as fast. We need a real study at different speeds and on downhills. The hearing will be a joke without REAL DATA. Lets get a parking lot, a bunch of bikes, fixies, touring bikes, racing bikes, comunter bikes and do a bunch of tests. Lets invite the press, and do some videos. Lets prove this thing one way or another and quit the wizzing contest. HOW MUCH SPACE DOES IT TAKE TO STOP? Lets hit the courts and the press with real data.

Tankagnolo Bob

Jim F.
Jim F.
16 years ago

If I were riding a brakeless fixie, I would just put a brake on it. Yeah, yeah it’s the point of it. But I have bigger things to deal with in my life. Fighting for the right to ride a bike without a brake that really probably should have a brake? It just seems like a tremendous waste of energy. Spend a few bucks on a brake or pay your ticket(s). It’s not the end of the world.

Gregg
Gregg
16 years ago

Thanks for clarifying Jonathan. Hopefully you understood that I was just wondering if a lawyer would actually say that, no criticism intended.

And you don’t have to have a press badge to be a journalist. You handle things much better than many “pros”.

West Cougar
West Cougar
16 years ago

Geez, so I’m curious all these folk smugly suggesting everyone “just get a [caliper] brake,” do you share that same attitude towards the various anti-terror survellience?

It would seem to me, all the same arguments apply. Essentially, the pro arguments are entirely pragmatic: don’t talk to terrorists and you have nothing to worry about… AKA put a caliper brake on your bike and stop complaining.

By their logic, the rule of law, explicit text of the statute, presumption of guilt, freedom of choice, and privacy are all irrelevent. Whatever servers the ‘greatest good’ should be mandatory.

Now if someone wants to explain how these two situations are so different in fact or in principle… well, I am skeptical. In truth, the caliper brake requirement has more tangible effects on a lot more folks’ daily life than the NSA reading their email ever will. Indeed, Portland Police are not stopping single speed bikers just to check if they have a brake… ostensibly because the Officer couldn’t see it as the biker rode by. But hey, I’m sure whatever Bush is doing to track foreign movey wire transfers is the real outrage. The NY Times says so.

SKiDmark
SKiDmark
16 years ago

Jim F. : for the 000th time not all track bikes have holes to mount brakes in. It is not as simple as adding a brake it would be replacing a fork and for me repacking a loose ball Campagnolo headset. Do you really think a a cheap brake belongs on a 1500 dollar track racing bike? I don’t think a cheap brake is going to stop me any better than I can already stop with my low gearing and fixed hub. And it won’t help me to skid, WHICH SATISFIES THE LAW if the judge is willing to acknowledge it.

The real question Tankagnolo Bob , is can a fixed without a caliper brake stop as fast as a badly adjusted department store Magna mountain bike, or a 30 year old cruiser with coaster brake. The answer is YES. Down for a stopping contest? Anytime.

SKiDmark
SKiDmark
16 years ago

That is for the 7000th time…

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
16 years ago

Guys, please.

There have been something like 400 or so comments on this already!

Please let’s try and keep the focus on the issue of the legal proceedings and developments with the appeal and courts.

thanks.

Duane
Duane
16 years ago

I’m not amazed that a judge refused to hear such a case. I’m not amazed that a lawyer took the case. I’m amazed that everybody is making a big deal about it. Put something, anything, that looks like a brake or acts like a brake and be done with it, thereby giving the cops something else to do with their valuble time. I like the idea of proving it through studies. Go to someone at PSU and pose the topic and if you get the results you want, run with it. But in the meantime….

SKiDmark
SKiDmark
16 years ago

Also for the 7000th time the law states that you must have the ability to skid the braked wheel. Watch Ayla’s video. She seems to be skidding doesn’t she? She can stop can’t she? So can I and every other EXPERIENCED fixed rider without ever using a brake.

Dabby
Dabby
16 years ago

Once again, the point is, you do not need a brakeon a fixed gear if you are good enough to ride onein the first place.
For one, I cannot, and will not, put a front brake on my TRACK BIKE…..
And in the second place, if you are still confused as to why I will not install a brake, just refer back to point number one.

Matt Davis
16 years ago

11 comments in three hours?! Fixie mania! Can I shamelessley request that you all boost our blog traffic and stir up the issue over at the Mercury, by weighing in with your damndest on Blogtown:

http://www.portlandmercury.com/blogtown/2006/08/presiding_judge_throws_up_cons.php

Matt Davis (aka The Unpaid Intern @ The Mercury)

John Boyd
John Boyd
16 years ago

Jim F. (4),

If I carved a seamless Venus, I would just put a seam on it.

If I waded with legless dolphin, I would just put legs on it.

If I sailed a motorless catamaran, I would just put an motor on it.

If I were riding a brakeless fixie, I would just put a brake on it.

Brett
Brett
16 years ago

Messenger Institute for Media Accuracy
http://www.messmedia.org/060804-outlawed.html

I don’t think that the judge, by definition, owes any “respect” to this issue.

I wonder what the “constitutional issues” are.

If Ginsberg is worried about the same judge presiding over a new case then… is he just going to use the same arguments again? What did he learn from the last one. I remember a few very compelling arguements on these posts.

How about an update on getting the letter of the law changed… or did Jason Atkinson forget about this issue. This is where true change will happen anyway.

John Boyd
John Boyd
16 years ago

Here’s my current tack for my hearing on the 5 September.

All the technical and safety digressions aside, we have a stute: “equipped with a brake” “equipped” means something, and “brake” means something. “skid” means something too, that’s easy. The words “self-energizing” or “separate” are not in the statute.

Police and judges can’t read into the law what they think it means if the words aren’t there. Or can they?
Yes, I’m reading what I want to see in the statute beyond common sense, but I’ve got a dictionary to back me up.
My crux question is can the judge really throw in “I think they meant to say “self-energizing” or “separate” when they wrote the statute”? I don’t thing the statute authors had considered any other kind of brakes than self energizing. So when another kind of brake comes along, It’s assumed to not meet the statute? I don’t think so. Does it follow that anything that’s not expressly allowed by law defaults to illegal?

SKiDmark
SKiDmark
16 years ago

Freedom of expression. A Track Bike is a work of art and to put a brake on it would destroy the minimalist aesthetic.

Brett
Brett
16 years ago

John,

Yes the judge can really do that, and it is a responsibility. The judge will consider all material presented and then rule on the case. I don’t think you will be able to use the dictionary defense at this level. If it was MUCH higher… maybe. All you folks that are fighting this… how much cumulative cash do you all have? It is my opinion that if you pooled all your funds and retained a different lawyer, you would win, and set a new precedence. It doesn’t take a cyclist to win this case… it takes a litigator.

SKiDmark
SKiDmark
16 years ago

The Judge did NOT consider all material presented. Mark Ginsberg offered to show the judge that Ayla had the ability to stop her bike and the Judge would not allow it. Why? Because it would prove the Judge and the Police Officer wrong.

The simple fact that the Police Officer asked her to stop and she did proves that she meets the requirement of the law.

Brett
Brett
16 years ago

BTW,
A Track Bike ridden on the street is no longer a track bike.

Also,
The law does not cater to the fringe, it can not. As such, people on the outside of what is common often pay a price to live in a society. I happen to be an excellent marksman. I could, in all confidence, engage targets in the middle of a crowd without endangering the lives of others. I could display this ability all day long without incident. But I can’t shoot down at Waterfront Park because the law is written for the “common man” and not for my ability. The judge that ruled this case can not consider only the ability of excellent no-brake fixie riders, he must consider the “common man” which he is. And, not just the common bicycle rider either.

All that being said. I think the energy should go to changing the letter of the law.

John Boyd
John Boyd
16 years ago

Brett, this is why (naively) believe Traffic Court could work for us. Fast and loose.
cop: “I did not observe a brake as required by statute blahbedeeblah.”
judge: “did you have a brake on your bicycle that morning?”
me: “Yes, I had a brake”
judge: “Prove it. What kind of brake?”
me: “The kind of brake that, as defined by []dictionary, restrains motion by stopping the rotation of a gear fixed to the wheel, resulting in skiding friction of the tire with the pavement.”
judge: to officer B., “That sounds like a brake, you win.”

Further Brett, The Law is the only protection of the minority from the majority. I know things are a tad upside down just now, but that’s what the first law was for. Whatever that was. I think.

further, further Brett, the letter of the law works fine for non-redundantly braked fixies. The problem here is a judge that has his own (uninformed, if commonly-held) opinions outside the letter of the law.
John

SKiDmark
SKiDmark
16 years ago

Of course it is, Brett. My track bike goes to the track but it is the best bike I own so I ride it on the street too. The only thing that is different is I flip the wheel over from a 15 cog for the track to a 19 for the street. It is still the same bike.

Brett
Brett
16 years ago

I think you should search the ORS and see if you can find your definitions there, those are the ones that apply, not Webster’s.

Best of luck to all you guys on this. I really mean that. I love it when folks stand up for what they believe is right. Well… as long as it is presented well. 🙂

Brett
Brett
16 years ago

SKiDmark,

I hear ya. I guess what I mean is that when riding a Track Bike on the open road, the bike shall and must adhere to the rules of the road, not the track.

hmmm I run an 18 on the street.

I’m gonna take pictures at the Dairy tomorrow morning, hope to see you there.

John Boyd
John Boyd
16 years ago

Mr. Ginsberg Esq. says Mirriam-Webster 3rd ed. Unabridged is the dictionary used in the courtroom. Will look see what the ORS say about bicycles, brake, equipped.

from above, Brake (2): “Something designed or used to slow down or stop movement.”

Thanks Brett, Skidmark for adding intelligence to this.

SKiDmark
SKiDmark
16 years ago

It does adhere to the rules of the road, I can stop it by skidding.

zach
zach
16 years ago

traffic court judges (like the one who gave the original opinion) are not “real judges” – they are “pro tem” judges, or lawyers who play judge every now and then.

Dr. Mark Ross
Dr. Mark Ross
16 years ago

real or not, they can empty your pocketbook and tarnish your driving record ‘just like that!’

SKiDmark
SKiDmark
16 years ago

I can’t stop remember I have no brakes 😛

Elvis
Elvis
15 years ago

The entire concept of ticketing a fixed rider for not having a handbrake is absurd.

Unsafe riding (or driving) is the proper focus of the law. Safe riding is not.

For me, a brakeless bike is not as safe on hills or long rides. I do own a old school custom track bike, but cause it’s not drilled for a front brake I don’t ride it that much, though I have ridden it on main roads. I am not good at skidding. This is why my normal fixed gear — my Pista, my Ross conversion, and my fixed gear mtb, all have front brakes.

On the other hand, this dude who sometimes goes on Sunday group rides with us rides a brakeless track on 50-60 mile rides surrounded by the rest of us on road bikes. He skids down hills. He stops safely. Guess what? He’s one of those messenger types.

If a person can stop safely leave em be. If they can’t, ticket em. Rider skill is the issue not the technical build up of a bicycle. Drivetrain equals brake if the rider is adequately skilled.

As to crackng down on bikes generally, I think it’s foolish. If a person is using the road in an unsafe manner and a cop sees it, fine, ticket them, but why specifically go after a bicycle which weighs like 20 lbs when people are out there breaking laws with seeming impunity is huge honking SUVs? More people are killed by cars than bikes.

And on another note, when the heck was the last time you heard of a pedal by shooting?
– Elvis

Val
Val
15 years ago

Hey fixed riders: check this out: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/01/03/dutch_segway_ban/ How do the Portland police feel about Segways? Might be time to point out a few things.