Portland Century - August 18th

Fixed gear bill passes last test

Posted by on June 6th, 2007 at 6:35 am

Fighting for fixed gears in court

The case that started it all.
Mark Ginsberg defends Ayla
Holland in July ’06.
(File photo)

The Oregonian has the word from Salem on the fixed gear bill.

Senate Bill 729 — which seeks to clarify the existing bicycle brake requirement so that fixed-gear bicycles don’t need an additional brake (as long as they meet the performance standard) — should now have smooth sailing to the Governor’s desk after the Oregon House voted in favor of it last night by a vote of 41-15.

The bill already passed the Senate and now is just one small step (a Senate approval of some minor House changes) from becoming Oregon law.

This bill originated from a decision in Multnomah County Traffic Court on July 28th, 2006. In that case, a judge ruled that cyclist Ayla Holland’s fixed gear bicycle was illegal because it did not have a hand-brake. Lawyer Mark Ginsberg thought the decision was incorrect and aimed to clean up the Oregon Revised Statute (815.280) that governs the bicycle brake requirement.

Ginsberg teamed up with southern Oregon Republican Senator Jason Atkinson (who was in “rebellion mode” after he heard about the Holland case) to create the bill and move it through the legislature.

Browse my archives for more background on this story.

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    John June 6, 2007 at 8:05 am

    The new language reads:
    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.

    IMO an exception for FGs is not needed as much as a radical new law requiring two particular cops and one judge to enforce the laws we have including accepting the dictionary entry for the word brake.

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    Matt Picio June 6, 2007 at 8:35 am

    Unfortunately, the exception is needed because addressing the issue of 2 cops and 1 judge does nothing to stop future problems with cops and judges.

    OTOH, this is the reason why 10 commandments (or the Code of Hammurabi) grew into 47,000 pages of federal, state and local laws and millions of pages of case law.
    (not actual numbers, but you get the point)

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    SKiDmark June 6, 2007 at 10:03 am

    So what happens with the tickets that have been given? Do they get dismissed? What about the ones that have been paid? Do they get refunded?

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    Jonathan Maus / BikePortland June 6, 2007 at 10:12 am


    The law does not go into effect until January 1, so all the tickets are still valid. no refunds, no dismissals. sorry man.

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    SKiDmark June 6, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Wait, NEXT January first? And what is to stop those two cops and that one judge from continuing to hand out and uphold \”no-brakes\” tickets to fixed riders?

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    Dour June 6, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    Well one option would be to put a brake on the front, and yes I know it sucks to mess up the purity of your bike but in this case it\’s only temporary and then in January all the fixie people that want to go brakeless can throw a big party and burn their front brakes, or donate them to be melted down and made into stuff, or some other such fun symbolic bash.

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    SKiDmark June 6, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Sure Dour, I will drill a hole in my track fork and buy a brake and a lever of comparable quality to the rest of my bike. That should only cost about 60 bucks, not including the track fork that will have a big ugly gaping hole in it when I take the brake off, the brake I don\’t need because I run a low enough gear on the street that I can stop, like I would if a cop asked me to if he wanted to give me a ticket for \”no brakes\”. Don\’t you get how ridiculously stupid it is to be asked to stop, be able to stop, and then get a ticket for \”no brakes\”?

    I\’ve got a better idea, throw out ALL the \”no brakes\” tickets issued to fixed gear bike riders, unless it was for someone who couldn\’t stop their bike (it never is), and don\’t give out any more tickets for \”no brakes\”.

    I wonder if you could get your court case continued to January 1st, 2008, when the law goes into effect, and then get it dismissed.

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    Disco D June 6, 2007 at 1:43 pm
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    Spanky June 6, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    So how does enforcement work? If a FG bike rider can not in fact stop his bike as provided in the proposed statute does he get a ticket? When is the test rendered? Who \”proctors\” the test? the way I read the language, the FG need only \”enable\” the stoppping within so many feet from such and such speed. I realize the language is the same regardless of the braking mechanism employed. What I am wondering is, is the proposed language a recognitition that the FG brake complieds with the mph/braking distance requirement? Anyone here familiar with the legislative debate on the subject – if any? This looks like the end of the FG ticket debate.

    I love the idea (and look) of an FG bike, but I won\’t subject myself and others to the risk I\’d pose in riding one!

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    SKiDmark June 6, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    What happens is a messenger is riding along the street downtown, Officer Barnum or Balzer recognizes him/her and lights them up, they stop, and get a ticket for \”no brakes\”. At least that is the experience of at least 3 of my friends.

    I suggest you go back and read the rest of of the responses on this subject as every aspect of this discussion has already occuring sometimes 3 or 4 times over.

    There is no risk on a fixed gear bike, you can always get one with brake holes and put some brake on it. I think the new Schwinn Madison comes with handbrakes. Riding without the assistance of a handbrake is easy once you have mastered the fixed-specific stopping techniques.

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