Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Fixed gear bill gets public hearing

Posted by on March 22nd, 2007 at 8:20 am

This coming Tuesday, Salem lawmakers are holding a public hearing on Senate Bill 729. SB 729 is the “fixie bill” that is being proposed to clarify the legal language and shore up confusion around how the bicycle equipment requirement (ORS 815.280) should pertain to fixed-gear bicycles.

Since Ayla Holland’s seminal case last July there has been confusion in the courts and on the street about whether or not fixed-gear bicycles must have a separate hand brake.

This bill, which has been championed by Republican Senator Jason Atkinson and Portland lawyer Mark Ginsberg would add the following language to ORS 815.280 (2)(a):

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

The bill is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The public hearing will take place Tuesday (3/27) at 1:15 pm in room 343.

This is a very important opportunity to testify.

If you would like to join us in Salem, check out these tips about how to testify and drop me a line to organize carpools.

[For complete coverage of this issue, browse my Fixed Gear Ruling archives.]

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you.

  • John Boyd March 22, 2007 at 8:41 am

    The new language solves the issue, but the word “separate” doesn’t seem to make strict sense mechanically. Separated by a fastener?

    Why even use the word “brake”? Just say “Bicycles must be able to stop within 15 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement”.

    Specifying intent need not be so complicated.

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  • gabrielamadeus March 22, 2007 at 9:37 am

    I agree it could be simpler as well, but at least they say “seperate” brake — implying that a fixed gear hub is indeed “a brake”.

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  • Todd B March 22, 2007 at 9:38 am

    How about this change that just removes the confusing term “brake” to make it more performance based while not adding more text to the code:

    “A bicycle must be so equipped that enables the operator to stop the vehicle within 15 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement.”

    And how many times does the word bicycle need to be used? I have taken out the extra ‘bicycles’ as an example.

    And perhaps the performance measures need to be updated to match modern conditions and performance? (20 mph and ~50 feet?)

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  • The Truth March 22, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    I would support this bill, except that is was introduced by an evil REPUBLICAN! I can’t believe that nobody has noticed that. Wake up, bikers. You’re being helped by a pawn for the BUSH Administration.

    WAKE UP!!!

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  • SKiDmark March 22, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    I don’t know what Senator Atkinson’s views on other things are and whether or not he totes the Rebublican Party Line, but if he is going to bat for us on this that is good enough for me.

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  • Bjorn March 22, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    I had a meeting with Senator Atkinson earlier this year. While we disagree on many other issues I can report that the Senator is an avid cyclist and is very serious about making life easier for cyclists in our state. He is working to make it easier and safer to bike for fun and transportation. This isn’t a ploy to make himself look good to the left, he is doing these things because his friends bike, his family bikes, and he bikes. I’m not sure I’d vote for him, but to suggest that we shouldn’t work with him to advance bike related legislation, or accept help from him because he is a republican is ridiculous.


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  • Todd B March 22, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    Yes do support him, as it is very effective and saavy to have support for any infrastructure bill or policy change as a bipartisan effort. It also minimizes various parlamentary tricks at the committee level that can bottle up good ideas before they see the light of day and hit the floor.

    And if you bemoan having to work with a Republican in order to get this legislation through both houses then you can ask why did not “our” Democratic allies do it first?

    Look back in your history books…as some of the most wide ranging shifts in Federal policy usually come out of left field from the opposite party one expects it from: National Parks and FDA/ food inspections (T. Roosevelt); EPA (Nixon); ADA (Bush 1); NAFTA & Welfare Reform; (Clinton); etc.

    Perhaps Senator Atkinson is reaching back to his party’s roots to foster policies as a true Conservative, as in the conservation of resources (financial and of the land) – before big roads and big oil bewitched both parties.

    Bicycles after all are the most efficient land transport there is other than not moving. Why cannot this be a bipartisan effort…after all the support of cars is?!

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  • peejay March 22, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    Somebody left the Oregonian’s article about this issue on my desk at work, and my reaction was “OK, who’s trying to get me to say something nice about Republicans?”

    I’ll say it, though. I support you, Senator Atkinson ON THIS ISSUE ALONE!

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  • The sanity March 24, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    Oh for Christ’s sake – all republicans are evil now? And anything they say is automatically wrong? I’m not one and I don’t like the president either, but I think you are painting the world a little too starkly black and white Mr. Truth.

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  • peejay March 25, 2007 at 8:51 am

    No, I didn’t say they’re automatically evil. In this case, I’ve demonstrated that I support one Republican with regard to one issue. How’s that for a little gray in the black and white?

    But, yes, my automatic inclination is not to trust the party of social reactionaries, blind faith to tax cuts, foolish militarism, corporate subservience, and disregard of the constitution. I’ve learned that when someone lets you down hundreds of times in a row, they’re probably gonna do it again. I do try to keep an open mind, even though it’s so much easier not to.

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  • peejay March 25, 2007 at 9:02 am

    Furthermore, the Republican Party is by nature the stronger backer of the car culture, because of its ties to the oil industry and because of its inability to grasp the idea of energy conservation. There have been exceptions, like Nixon, who actually created the EPA, but the Party as currently constituted is pro-oil, pro-Alaska-drilling, pro-highway, etc. Sure, some Democrats support some of these things, too, and I am ashamed of the efforts of certain Democrats to kill the attempt to increase the CAFE standards back in the ’90’s, but there are many Democrats who do get it about conservation and transportation, and they have influence in their Party. The same cannot be said for the few Republicans who get it.

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  • peejay March 25, 2007 at 9:08 am

    And, above all, my first comment was said a little tongue-in-cheek! I work with a lot of hard-core Republicans, and they kid me about my politics frequently. I don’t engage them seriously about the issues, because, from experience, I know it would be a waste of time. There are people who don’ believe in evolution, who think it’s the “end times,” and who think Dick Cheney doesn’t get a fair shake from the “liberal media.” What do you say to these people?

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  • The sanity March 25, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    Well, because devil’s advocate is my favorite game, I will say first that true, old-school republicans do believe in conservation efforts, and if you talk to those people today, they will tell you that George Bush isn’t a real republican. Anyway, I actually agree with most of what you wrote peejay.

    That being said, my response was directed towards “The Truth” who actually used the words “evil republican”. It just doesn’t seem like that attitude is in the best interests of making progress for our country.

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  • David Feldman March 25, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Weird to think of transportation as partisan. Look at the membership of the House Bike Caucus in DC–one member is Tom Tancredo R-Colorado, considered about as far right as they get.

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  • josh m March 25, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    I didn’t realize that if you’re a republican you can’t support other bicyclists…

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  • peejay March 26, 2007 at 7:55 am


    It’s a big picture thing. Current Republican philosophy is geared towards reducing the social obligations of government. They oppose the idea that there might be some common social good worth promoting (and investing some infrastructure expense on), and think that the free market will take care of everything. Furthermore, the current Republican Party, at least nationally, is the most corrupt in history, as evidenced by the many scandals that have come to light in spite of an unskeptical press. Good, honest, reasonable Republicans exist, but if they vote to keep their leadership in place, they are tainted with the corruption.

    What does this have to do with bikes? Well, if you vote for one Republican who supports bikes, but then he/she votes to keep in place Party leadership whose goal is to pave over the country (remember, the building industry is a huge contributer), then your vote’s effect is opposite of your intent.

    It’s time to get away from single-issue politics, like the fools at the Sierra Club who endorsed several moderate Republicans in the last election cycle. Yes, those particular politicians had some pro-environment votes, but their most important votes were for Party leadership positions. Had they won, we’d still have Dennis Hastert and Bill Frist in charge of the national legislative agenda, or, statewide, Karen Minnis & Ted Ferrioli. We live in a party system, and it’s naive to ignore the implications of that.

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  • peejay March 26, 2007 at 7:56 am

    Sorry, didn’t close my italics!

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  • SKiDmark March 26, 2007 at 8:21 am

    Speaking as a mountain biker, I say f**k the Sierra Club. They have closed almost all singletrack to mountain bikes.

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  • Andrew March 26, 2007 at 10:00 am

    Get, over it. You don’t own the woods.

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  • brad March 26, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    Republican and Neo-Conservative do not mean the same thing.

    Republican and Democrat, however, do.

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  • The sanity March 26, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    “They have closed almost all singletrack to mountain bikes.”

    Hmmm…wonder why that would be. Good to know you are such a lover of preserving the environment skid.

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  • SKiDmark March 26, 2007 at 7:00 pm


    And neither do hikers or the Sierra Club. If it is public land , we all own it don’t we? So why can’t I ride a bike there?

    You’re right, I should just put slicks and fenders and lights and a rack and gears on my mountain bike get an orange vest and just commute on it. Are there any more rules I should follow? I’ll drill some holes in my track bike so I can install handbrakes while I’m at it.

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  • SKiDmark March 26, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    Sanity, it would be because hikers have the Sierra Club to lobby for them and get trails closed to mountain bikes. You really cannot tell me that a 2000 lb. horse does less damage to a trail than a bicycle. And the is bikeportland right? It’s not hikeportand is it? How is a mountain bike bad for the environment? Trails get maintained on a regular basis because all trail users damage the trail, not just bikes. BTW I try not to skid offroad, because it damages trails.

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  • JeremyE March 26, 2007 at 7:49 pm

    Saving open, natural space for the sake of saving them for life other than ouselves is a great thing, but I have to agree with SKiDmark that the Sierra Club is decidedly not friendly to mountain bikers in any way, largely due to the fact they have wheels.

    As an avid hiker in my younger days (toddlers put a significant damper on that activity), I must say the worst trails were always the horse trails. Those close to horse camps just got trashed by the 1000 lb horse and rider with sharp metal shoes. We spent quite a few service projects repairing damage to erosion control structures due to horses.

    By no means am I saying all trails should be open to all modes of recreation, but trails open to horses should be open to mountain bikes, with the exception of wilderness areas. I would see those closed to horses, too, except trail maintenance crew pack trains. Of course the real burner is the trail open to snowmobiles but closed to bikes. And yes, snowmobiles regularly dig into the earth when the snowpack is low.

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  • peejay March 26, 2007 at 10:50 pm


    Let me guess: you voted for Nader in 2000, right? If you really believe that there’s no difference between Republicans and Democrats, you have been asleep for the past 12+ years. You deserve everything this administration doles out. Unfortunately, we all suffer.

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  • peejay March 26, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    OK, I admit, I’ve gone waaay off-topic here, but I’m not the only one.

    Oh, and Skidmark, I’m sure you’re a responsible trail rider, but are all mountain bikers? It’s a fair question. Everybody should get to use the land, but only as much as the land can bear. I totally agree that bikes cause way less damage than horses – or snowmobiles – but certainly you’ll admit that they have more impact than the average hiker. I said average, not the worst hiker in the world. That said, if the Sierra Club is being overzealous in lobbying for fewer mountain bike areas, I’ll side with you.

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  • SKiDmark March 27, 2007 at 11:36 am

    No not all of them are responsible. Not all hikers are responsible either. What is your point? I am sure there are quite a few responsible mountain bikers out there that would be willing to do a day or two of trail maintenence a month in exchange for trail access.

    This conflict has been going on since the beginning of mountain biking. There is a documentary about the conflict in Marin County called Singletrack Minds.


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  • Todd B March 27, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    Yes back on topic…

    Any more thoughts about the existing or proposed text of the current bicycle equipment requirement law?

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

    My suggestion, as listed before with a tweek:

    “A bicycle must be so equipped that enables the operator to stop the vehicle within 15 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement without requiring one to place a foot on the ground. ”

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