Wednesday, July 1, 2009

- Fixed Gears banned in Berlin -

Apparently Berlin has taken a major step backwards in advancing bike culture and has banned fixed gear bikes. As the article says, "Seeing what they considered a growing danger to traffic safety, Berlin police announced this spring they would begin cracking down on fixie riders. Since only April, they’ve confiscated 18 bicycles."

Not only does this law discourage some cycling, it also effects the "safety in numbers" concept where the more people that ride, the safer the streets will become. According to this chart, as ridership in NYC increases, the number of related deaths decreases. Obviously drivers, pedestrians and cyclists are all becoming used to the different modes of transportation and looking out for each other a little bit more.

As for the reason for this post, we've had our fair share of discussions over fixed gears and the proposal of requiring a working brake on the bike, but I never thought it would come to out-right banning them. I wonder if Berlin passed a mandatory brake law on fixed gears (to track if accidents decreased) before banning them completely?

Personally, I think it's wise to have an emergency brake on your fixed gear for that sole purpose - emergencies. You never know when someone's going to cut you off or pull out in front of you, and I think it's nice to have that extra stopping power. BUT - I do not think requiring a brake should be made law. It's every rider's preference as to how & what they want to ride. That being said, I also think it's a horrible idea to ban a specific bike. If a cyclist is going to ride like a douche, they're going to ride like a douche on any type of bike.

The damage a bike can do as opposed to a car is far less. Usually, if a car and bike collide, it's only the cyclist who is hurt. Being a cyclist, I think that's a conscious choice each one of us make every time we get on a bike. We know the dangers and probabilities are against us, yet we still ride.

...are the bikes really so dangerous that they shouldn’t be street legal?

Take this as you will. I hope Austin doesn't like this idea.

Ride safe.


one Les car said...

WOW!! can't believe Berlin is banning fixed gears. To me, that shows they're moving two steps back and not ahead.

The NYC chart is also interesting, I would like to see one of those for Austin.

Matt said...

It's not that bad "To get their bikes back, cyclists have to pay a fine and convince the authorities they won’t ride them on the street anymore – or at least show an inclination to install brakes on them."

I don't think there should be a law about seatbelts either, but there are a lot of pedestrians in berlin, so no brakes is much more dangerous to innocents than here.

dougmc said...

They aren't banning fixed gears -- they're just requiring brakes.

Just like Texas already does and has for years.

Calling it `banning fixed gears' is simply sensationalism. (And yes, I see that's exactly what the original article does. Brakes are mentioned, but more as an afterthought ...

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