Are brakeless fixies illegal?

BikePortland.org | Judge finds fault with fixies

In Portland on Thursday, a judge ruled that fixed-gear bikes must be equipped with brakes.

A bike messenger named Ayla Holland was ticketed for violating Oregon’s cycling law, which like many states requires a bicycle to “be equipped with a brake that enables the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.”

Many fixie enthusiasts maintain that brakes are unnecessary, since the rider can slow the bike by resisting the pedals’ rotation, meeting the “skid” requirement.

Holland and her attorney argued unsuccessfully that the fixed cogset and the rider’s leg power constitute a brake, but the judge was not convinced. “If your client had a stick she could rub against her tire, you’d have a case,” he said, but the brake must be a device separate from the rider.

Nice job of reporting by BikePortland, which apparently sat in on the case, and says Holland may appeal; she has 30 days to decide.

Update: Jonathan has updated the story at BikePortland after it was linked at BoingBoing.



8 Comments

hmmmm…..

surprised there was not a bicycle specific attorney

in DC there was a man named Ed Kearny
he is now dead and gone

wonder if someone has filled his void

I have a HS buddy who does some bicycle law in South Carolina

http://www.scbikelaw.com/about.html

good to see a lawyer using their powers for good instead of evil

Does that mean kids’ trikes are illegal??

So, why not just put a front brake on the bike? Like the fixie riders do here in Seattle, because of the hill? I did like the stick quote. That was good.

The messenger’s attorney Mark Ginsberg is a bike-specific attorney - one of the best in the Northwest. But Portland, despite its reputation as a bike-friendly town, has a significant contigent of citizens who hate bikes - I got more grief from drivers there in two years than I have in 14 years in Seattle - they really don’t like cyclists who ride like they are traffic. And the entire point about front brakes on fixies is that current Oregon law really doesn’t require them - a quick review of the statute proves that. And unlike Seattle, downtown PDX is incredibly flat, so you don’t need the extra braking power of a front brake.

So, wait, it’s not all “good times” in Portland. Was that the point of the trial? I mean, why go to court over a brake? Just put a brake on? Why protest a brake, was it the larger moral issue of I can do what I want on a bike?

So just get a stick…

I really don’t see what the big deal is, once the judge said that the cyclist should have pulled some random object from his/her bag and said “see brake”. Whats the point of rebelling against such a silly thing. Why not argue that the cyclists shoe constituted a brake…

ok instead of hating on the “lawyers and laws”  can we not look at why this is not a good safety sense?  Really, there is traffic here and we have a lot of “serious” bike riders who, come on, “aren’t”.  we live in a country of cars.  like it or not.  be safe.  if we have to tell people to wear a seat belt, i think we need to tell some people that they can’t handle brake-less bikes.  common-sense prevails——-some people can’t handle it!!!

people who ride brake less fixies should have the choice as to whether or not to put a brake on their bike, the majority of them are safe cyclists who know hot to use their bike properly.

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