A reader recently sent me a a German news story about police and fixed-gear bicycles. Judging by the photos accompanying the story (below), he suspected (hoped) it was about how some German cops were riding fixed-gear bicycles on their bike patrols. This would be in direct contrast to Portland cops who issue citations to cyclists riding fixed-geared bicycles without a separate hand brake.
pose with suspect’s bike.]
I sent the article to a friend to have it translated and I was surprised to find out that it was actually about how these German cops had stopped a cyclist who was riding a fixie and ticketed him for riding “entirely without brakes.”
This got me thinking about the fixed-gear bicycle controversy that has raged here in Portland ever since that fateful stop of bike messenger Ayla Holland way back on June 1, 2006 and the subsequent trial which sparked a national debate about their safety and legality.
While covering this story I’ve been torn between both sides of the issue. On one hand it feels like the police are just hassling messengers (and those that look like them) and on the other hand I feel that riding a fixed-gear downtown can be a safety hazard for roadway users (especially when ridden by all but the most skilled pedalers).
Regardless of how this issue is resolved (work is being done to change the wording of the law), it was interesting to learn that cops as far away as Germany have reached some of the same conclusions about fixed-gear bicycles as cops in Portland.