Are brakeless fixies illegal? | 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.