Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Fixie bill passes Senate by wide margin

Posted by on April 3rd, 2007 at 9:07 pm

BTA lobbyist Scott Bricker reports that Senate Bill 729, which seeks to amend the brake requirement for bicycles, passed through the Senate in Salem today by a landslide margin of 22-6.

A no hand-brake fixie
spotted downtown last week.
File photo: 3/30/07

The bill, which passed through committee just one week ago, would create a performance standard for bicycle brakes (a bicyclist would have to be able to stop a bicycle in 15 feet when riding 10 mph) and would specifically exempt fixed geared bicycles from needing a separate brake to do this.

Now the bill must be passed in the House. According to Bricker, the big question is whether the bill will be heard in the Transportation or the Judiciary Committee. Bricker likes its chances in the Transportation Committee, but he says it stands a good chance in both.

If the bill passes committee in the House, it will very likely pass a floor vote and end up becoming law. Stay tuned.

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.

  • Clark April 3, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    I cannot believe this is what our Senate is debating. I guess I missed the memo that the meth problem has been solved, homelessness has been eradicated and that everyone has enough to eat.

    At least I can ride my fixed gear to Stumptown without brakes or a helmet.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wyatt April 3, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    I guess if I thought the only thing they were debating was brakeless fixies, I’d be upset too.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • N.I.K. April 3, 2007 at 9:53 pm

    On the plus side, Clark, this is, unlike the meth problem, something that is actually easily fixed by one simple change in legislature, and potentially results in less police and judicial system time wasted because of B.S. interpretation of a vague law regarding bicycles. Won’t result in anyone pissing rainbows or shitting sunshine, sure, but it does mean traffic violations with real-live repercussions might actually be caught in the time not spent writing somebody a ticket over the debatable lack of a proper braking mechanism.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • nerf April 3, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    hey clark, this is a bicycling website, why don’t you go to the Portland Tribune website and lurk there?
    And also on the subject of actual crime, if this passes there will be one less reason for cops to screw with bike and more free time to deal with tweakers. eh?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • 'Jefe April 3, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    right on wyatt!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • SKIDmark April 3, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    Blame it on Barnum and Balzer and their corroborating Judge tying up the courts with those “no brakes” tickets. I wonder if refunds will be issued.

    Maybe they can stop chasing messengers and go arrest some tweekers. They like to get around downtown on BMX bikes with freewheels and NO BRAKES.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • pdxcommuter April 3, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    Maybe Barnum and Balzer could ticket cars without front plates. No, seriously, I think that this is a problem. How many times have you encountered a car, and only been able to see its front? Such as, when the car is trying to come in from a side street or driveway, and cut you off. If there’s no front plate, the likelihood of identifying the car is much less. If the car driver knows he is less likely to be identified, he’s more likely to try something stupid. If he’s more likely to be identified, maybe he’s less likely to try something stupid.

    A nice side effect for Barnum and Balzer is that they can cruise around town looking for empty parked cars with no front plates. The possibility of a confrontation with an angry, or possibly armed, car driver is greatly reduced. If Barnum and Balzer can be kept busy with tasks like this, then maybe they won’t bother bicyclists.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • zac April 4, 2007 at 12:45 am

    N.I.K.: I actually promise to both piss rainbows AND shit sunshine if this bill gets passed.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Frankadank April 4, 2007 at 12:51 am

    I can’t believe we ‘need’ a law for this. Simple solution = decriminalize whatever was previously “illegal.” Problem solved. Instead, more laws! Yay for bureaucracy!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jonathon Severdia April 4, 2007 at 6:31 am

    Well, at least now we will see an end to this lame, cheapskate practice of riding with a brake, and a lever… and no cable.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • erikv April 4, 2007 at 6:42 am

    pdxcommuter, they do ticket for no front license plate. I’ve gotten TWO of them when I was younger and a little dumber.

    I hope the brakeless fixies are riding small gears. I’d never ride mine without a front brake. Seems pretty stupid to me. Why not have it there in case you need it? Nobody says you’d have to use it all the time.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Closet Monkey April 4, 2007 at 7:53 am

    I agree with erikv, it does seem pretty irresponsible to not have a brake, how badly are you going to traumatize someone who simply makes a mistake and takes your life (we are all human)? Should other cyclists and motorists be responsible for yours and their actions (your human too thus equally prone to mistakes)?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Tankagnolo Bob April 4, 2007 at 8:37 am

    Just read that the meth addiction rate is up since the last fix, better stuff being produced “off shore” is more addictive.

    As for the fixies, right on, an actual spec saying how fast a bike should stop (15 feet at 10 mph), now that is science. Glad the fixies are winning and using science to do it.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Andy April 4, 2007 at 9:45 am

    What a strange bill. This seems to give style precedence over safety.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • felix April 4, 2007 at 9:54 am

    Damn Clark, you want the homeless to be eradicated???

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Pamela April 4, 2007 at 10:49 am

    Can all the people commenting on meth please go watch the Frontline documentary on the subject, made in association with the Oregonian and featuring Multnomah Co. law enforcement too.


    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • SKiDmark April 4, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    erikv, please go back and read the other 8 million posts about this to find out why no front brake, besides the odvious ones like some track bikes don’t have brake holes and the fact that technically it still does not satisfy the wording of the law, even moreso than having just a fixed hub. You see with a fixed hub you CAN “skid on dry, level, pavement”.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • DK April 4, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    Wouldn’ a single rear brake be a better choice for fixies? I’m no expert, but it seems that a quick stop might result in a fixer flying over the handlebars with only a front brake. And for a side note. I once saw a meth-head on a fixie flying down the Burnside hill by the Sandy intersection, with his feet in the straps. How hilarious. Except when I thought about the person who just had it ripped off. I did report it…but don’t know the ending.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • N.I.K. April 4, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    A rear brake serves little purpose on a fixed-gear bicycle as slowing/stopping the rotation of the cranks ultimately results in the back wheel slowing/stopping proportionately. On bikes with freewheel drivetrains, rear rim brakes are generally only useful when applying the front brake hard and fast in an emergency situation or when the front wheel rim is dirty/wet and a rim brake can’t grip it enough to decrease forward momentum rapidly.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Phil April 4, 2007 at 4:18 pm


    most states only issue a rear plate. Oregon is one of the few that issue two, for the front and back.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • SKiDmark April 4, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    A “fixie” already has a rear brake. It is the hub. See, when you slow down your pedaling the wheel slows down and so does the bike, and when you stop pedaling the bike stops. It is so simple that it ends up being very hard to understand, which is why this whole stupid fiasco has developed.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Darrin April 4, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    I am glad to see a law with wording “all” people can understand, too many laws are incorrectly “intrperated”.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • tom E April 5, 2007 at 12:10 am

    i’m sick of people that have no idea what this is all about commenting on this issue. if you really feel you have something positive to say, then say it…but dont complain about things you know nothing about.



    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • josh m April 5, 2007 at 10:12 am

    It’s not a new law.
    it’s just the rewording of the law.

    It’s a clarification.

    and trolls, go back to the previous thread that goes through all this shit.
    You’re just stating the same stuff that has been said a million times before and no one cares.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • freddy April 5, 2007 at 11:22 am

    So, who linked to this story and sent over all the non-bike people? It’s clear to me that a lot of commenters on this thread have not been following this issue and don’t really understand what’s going on.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jonathan Maus April 5, 2007 at 11:31 am

    “It’s clear to me that a lot of commenters on this thread have not been following this issue and don’t really understand what’s going on.”

    It is an ongoing challenge to provide extensive coverage of ongoing issues without having to re-hash all the background information each time.

    March was a record month for new visitors and we can’t expect them to be up to speed.

    For this reason, I’ve made more categories and special pages for certain topics.

    Check out the Special Coverage page of the fixie issue.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • beth h April 5, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    I read the proposed legislation and wonder: will cyclists on fixies be required to put a foot down at an intersection, or will track stands be permitted?

    (It seems that putting one’s foot dwn makes more sense, since drivers cannot tell from a distance whether the cyclist executing at rack stand is actually moving forward or not.)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • SKiDmark April 5, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    Search the site for “trackstand” for an answer to that. Oh wait, some guy just a ticket for it.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • A.M. May 1, 2007 at 11:02 am

    Does anyone know when the bill is going to the House? Just today, I was issued a ticket for riding my fixed gear without a front brake.

    You can add Officer Sorensen to the list of Motorcycle cops harrassing bicyclists.

    Recommended Thumb up 0