US: Judge finds fault with fixies

Discussion in 'Australia and New Zealand' started by cfsmtb, Aug 2, 2006.

  1. cfsmtb

    cfsmtb New Member

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    Only in America? A curly one folks? :confused:

    *****
    Judge finds fault with fixies
    http://bikeportland.org/2006/07/28/judge-finds-fault-with-fixies/
    Posted by Jonathan Maus on July 28th, 2006
    Fighting for fixed gears in court


    Yesterday at the Multnomah County Courthouse the law came down against fixed gear bicycles.

    On June 1, 2006 Portland bike messenger Ayla Holland was given a ticket for allegedly violating Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 815.280(2)(a) which states,

    A bicycle must be equipped with a brake that enables the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement. strong enough to skid tire.

    At issue was whether Holland’s fixed gear bicycle met this requirement. She and her lawyer Mark Ginsberg thought it did, but Officer Barnum of the Portland Police Bureau thought otherwise so they brought the matter in front of a traffic court Judge.

    According to Officer Barnum, he stopped Holland at SW First and Jefferson and told her that she was in violation of the law and that she must put a front brake on her fixie to avoid a ticket. Holland disagreed. She and Ginsberg claim that Oregon statute does not clearly define what a brake is and that as long as a bicycle can perform a “skid on dry, level clean pavement” it does not need to have a separate, traditional braking device.

    At the start of the trial it was clear that neither the Judge nor the Officer understood just what a fixed-gear bicycle was. To help them visualize, Ginsberg likened a fixie to a child’s Big Wheel. Once everyone was clear and the cop was finished with his opening testimony, Ginsberg began his cross-examination:

    Ginsberg (to Officer Barnum):

    “When you approached the rider did she stop?”

    Officer Barnum:

    “Yes.”

    Ginsberg:

    “How’d she stop the bike?”

    Officer Barnum:

    “I don’t know.”

    Ginsberg:

    “The gear itself stopped the bike.”

    Officer Barnum:

    “But the gear is not a brake.”

    From the outset, the judge seemed to agree with the cop and it was up to Ginsberg to change his mind. The trial began to hinge on the definition of brake. Ginsberg continued to ask questions of the cop.

    Ginsberg:

    “What is a brake?”

    Officer Barnum:

    “A lever, a caliper or a coaster brake hub.”

    Ginsberg:

    “Can you show the court where in the vehicle code a brake is defined as such?”

    Officer Barnum:

    “No.”

    Ginsberg:

    “Did you at any time during the traffic stop ask my client if she could skid (thus meeting the performance requirement of the statute)?”

    Officer Barnum:

    “No.”

    At this point the judge seemed increasingly exasperated with Ginsberg’s direction and pointed out that “brake” was a commonly accepted term. To end this line of questioning, Ginsberg offered to demonstrate to the court that Holland could easily bring her fixed-gear bike to a skid on dry, level pavement. The judge declined his offer.

    Now it was time for Officer Barnum to ask questions. He asked Holland,

    “What would you do if your chain broke?”

    Fighting for fixed gears in court

    Holland:

    “I would use my feet.”

    Officer Barnum:

    “What if your leg muscles had a spasm?”

    Holland:

    “I’m not sure…these are emergency situations.”

    Ginsberg interjected with a question for Holland:

    “Did any of these situations happen on the day you were stopped?”

    Holland:

    “No.”

    Now it was time for Officer Barnum to submit his closing testimony. He continued to argue that nowhere in the statute does it say gears can be utilized as brakes (it doesn’t say they can’t either). He also said that “motorists and the public deserve to have these bikes be properly equipped,” and that a “skid is not as good or safe as a stop.” “The requirement,” he said, “has not been met.”

    Now it was Ginsberg’s turn. He said,

    “The state is overreaching in seeking to define a brake as a lever and a caliper. The question remains; is the fixed gear the brake? The statutes are clear that the answer is yes.”

    To solidify his point, he took out a huge Webster’s dictionary and opened it to the word “brake.” The definition stated that a brake is a “device to arrest the motion of a vehicle.” It did not stipulate anything about a distinct lever or caliper. In his last few comments he proclaimed that the current statute is not well-written and that it is “frightening to require only a front brake.”

    With both sides at rest, it was time for the Judge’s final opinion. His contention was that the main source of braking power on a fixed gear are the muscles of the rider, not the gear itself. To this end, he questioned how messengers—whom he’s seen riding “much too fast”—could stop safely.

    In the Judge’s opinion, gearing itself and/or leg muscles are not a sufficient source of braking power. He said,

    “The brake must be a device separate from the musclulature of the rider. Take me for instance. I don’t have leg muscles as strong as a messenger…how would I stop safely?”

    He then turned directly to Ginsberg and said,

    “If your client had a stick she could rub against her tire, you’d have a case. I don’t believe the defense has convinced me to broaden the definition of a brake. I find the defendant guilty.”

    So now Holland has 30 days to either attach a hand brake to her bike and pay a $73 fine, or appeal the decision. In talking with her outside the courtroom it seemed like she did not think the Judge’s opinion was fair and I wouldn’t be surprised if she and Ginsberg decide to continue the fight.

    This decision by the Judge raises some concerns and questions. Will the cops now feel emboldened to go out and ticket everyone on a fixed-gear? Are fixed-gears now essentially illegal? Are fixed-gears truly a public safety hazard?

    Fixed gears have become a huge trend across the country and with hundreds if not thousands of them in Portland, I don’t think we’ve heard the end of this issue.
     
    Tags:


  2. cfsmtb wrote:
    > Only in America? A curly one folks? :confused:
    >
    > *****
    > Judge finds fault with fixies
    > http://bikeportland.org/2006/07/28/judge-finds-fault-with-fixies/
    > Posted by Jonathan Maus on July 28th, 2006
    > Fighting for fixed gears in court
    >


    For Gawd's sake, just put a brake on the front wheel, already! Bloody
    seppos . . .
     
  3. TimC

    TimC Guest

    On 2006-08-02, cfsmtb (aka Bruce)
    was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea:
    > “What would you do if your chain broke?”
    >
    > Fighting for fixed gears in court
    >
    > Holland:
    >
    > “I would use my feet.”


    Bzzzt! Wrong answer!


    "About the same as what I'd do if the brake cable snapped -- panic.
    Note that the last thing that broke on any of my bikes was the
    derailleur cable, and not the chain -- I haven't broken a chain since
    1993. Brake cables have a lot more stress put on them than mere
    derailleur cables, and so I would expect them to fail more often than
    a chain".



    -- Ti "This is not really me. I have postposted all reading of
    USENET, livejournal, etc, until such time as I hand in my thesis" mC.
     
  4. cfsmtb

    cfsmtb New Member

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    My dear old Hartley, when fully restored, is probably going to have a coaster brake. And a slightly restored Gem rearbrake for show. Actually think again, those Gem brakes were dodgy fer starters so I'll track down something more modern and safe..
     
  5. Bleve

    Bleve Guest

    cfsmtb wrote:
    > TimC Wrote:
    > >
    > > "About the same as what I'd do if the brake cable snapped -- panic.
    > > Note that the last thing that broke on any of my bikes was the
    > > derailleur cable, and not the chain -- I haven't broken a chain since
    > > 1993. Brake cables have a lot more stress put on them than mere
    > > derailleur cables, and so I would expect them to fail more often than
    > > a chain".

    >
    > My dear old Hartley, when fully restored, is probably going to have a
    > coaster brake. And a slightly restored Gem rearbrake for show. Actually
    > think again, those Gem brakes were dodgy fer starters so I'll track down
    > something more modern and safe..


    They do actually have a bit of a point. Rear wheel braking is not
    terribly effective, and a fixie with no front brake (or any bike with
    no front brake) is not going to pull up as well as a bike with a
    working front brake.

    And the difference is significant.

    I cite Sheldon : http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html

    If you don't ride it terribly fast, a rear brake only is probably not
    too bad, but the ability to skid the back wheel, does not an effective
    brake make. It's ok on little kids bikes, where the kids aren't strong
    enough to operate a front hand brake effectively, and they don't go
    fast enough to need a front brake anyway.

    Odd that this didn't come up in the case, either the prosecuting copper
    didn't do his homework, and/or the defendant was determined to obscure
    the truth. Brakes should be judged by how well they stop a vehicle
    from speed, not some irrelevant furphy re skidding. That's how they're
    tested in cars (you use an accelerometer to test brakes for a
    roadworthy test, if you do it properly, and there's a standard for this
    in Australia)
     
  6. Bleve

    Bleve Guest

    TimC wrote:
    > On 2006-08-02, cfsmtb (aka Bruce)
    > was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea:
    > > "What would you do if your chain broke?"
    > >
    > > Fighting for fixed gears in court
    > >
    > > Holland:
    > >
    > > "I would use my feet."

    >
    > Bzzzt! Wrong answer!
    >
    >
    > "About the same as what I'd do if the brake cable snapped -- panic.
    > Note that the last thing that broke on any of my bikes was the
    > derailleur cable, and not the chain -- I haven't broken a chain since
    > 1993. Brake cables have a lot more stress put on them than mere
    > derailleur cables, and so I would expect them to fail more often than
    > a chain".


    Foot, front tyre, jam foot between fork and tyre.... it works. Did it
    as a kid ...
    It's very rare for brake cables to break, in my experience. They're
    pretty well over-engineered.
     
  7. hippy

    hippy New Member

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    Sorry, riding brakeless is trendy. It's NOT safe.

    I know some couriers can operate brakeless extremely well but there will come a time where their legs won't be up to par, their bike fails them or any number of other reasons. Bam! Game Over for them or someone else.

    Worse are the wannabees who are trying the brakeless thing because it's "cool". Do "they" know how to stop their bike effectively without a brake?

    Of course none of this applies in London because anyone who rides here knows that there are no rules that govern anyone and if you get in my way I'll run you down - whether I'm riding, running, walking, driving, scootering.. ;)

    The author did seem to miss the point that fitting a front brake is okay and means you can still legally ride fixed.

    hippy
    - "Brakes are good!"
     
  8. Ray

    Ray Guest

    In article <[email protected]>,
    [email protected] says...
    >
    >
    > It's very rare for brake cables to break, in my experience. They're
    > pretty well over-engineered.
    >
    >

    Gee brings back memories of my more youthful days.

    I had a few brake cables snap, invariably the knob at the lever end
    would let go, or the cable would fray and snap there.
    Most interesting when coming down a hill with a load of newspapers on
    the back :eek:
    - Now theres a lost cause, teenagers delivering newspapers by pushie :(

    Cheers, Ray
     
  9. dave

    dave Guest

    Bleve wrote:
    > TimC wrote:
    >
    >>On 2006-08-02, cfsmtb (aka Bruce)
    >> was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea:
    >>
    >>>"What would you do if your chain broke?"
    >>>
    >>>Fighting for fixed gears in court
    >>>
    >>>Holland:
    >>>
    >>>"I would use my feet."

    >>
    >>Bzzzt! Wrong answer!
    >>
    >>
    >>"About the same as what I'd do if the brake cable snapped -- panic.
    >>Note that the last thing that broke on any of my bikes was the
    >>derailleur cable, and not the chain -- I haven't broken a chain since
    >>1993. Brake cables have a lot more stress put on them than mere
    >>derailleur cables, and so I would expect them to fail more often than
    >>a chain".

    >
    >
    > Foot, front tyre, jam foot between fork and tyre.... it works. Did it
    > as a kid ...
    > It's very rare for brake cables to break, in my experience. They're
    > pretty well over-engineered.
    >

    Pretty rare for chains to break too. Come to that. And while I would
    have a front brake and your point about the importance of front wheel
    braking is well made if its not what the standard requires then its
    irrelevent (from the viewpoint of the law, not common sense.) Probably
    not a landcruser out there that could outbrake my 1967 Sprite with drum
    rear brakes either.

    Dave
     
  10. geoffs

    geoffs New Member

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    As a kid you weren't riding at 40kmhr in traffic. I am not a kid playing on a back street.
    I ride a fixie with a front brake and I am able to stop much quicker with one than without. The place for no brakes is on the velodrome, not trying to be cool.

    Dave, there are videos if you want to do a search on the braking improvement on modern cars. At 100km/hr, the landcruiser will stop much quicker than your '67 if you are using original brakes. There was a comparison on Drive a while ago between various holdens braking distances and the results were scary. I think the Kingswood took an additional 30m to stop from 100km/hr

    Cheers

    Geoff
     
  11. vaudegiant

    vaudegiant New Member

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    Obviously the Judge did not stop to think that any brake (other than a dead-mans brake) requires the intervention of musculature. I can't think of any vehicle that brakes without the use of muscles to apply the brake.

    Pat
     
  12. TimC

    TimC Guest

    On 2006-08-02, Bleve (aka Bruce)
    was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea:
    >
    > cfsmtb wrote:
    >> TimC Wrote:
    >> >
    >> > "About the same as what I'd do if the brake cable snapped -- panic.
    >> > Note that the last thing that broke on any of my bikes was the
    >> > derailleur cable, and not the chain -- I haven't broken a chain since
    >> > 1993. Brake cables have a lot more stress put on them than mere
    >> > derailleur cables, and so I would expect them to fail more often than
    >> > a chain".

    >>
    >> My dear old Hartley, when fully restored, is probably going to have a
    >> coaster brake. And a slightly restored Gem rearbrake for show. Actually
    >> think again, those Gem brakes were dodgy fer starters so I'll track down
    >> something more modern and safe..

    >
    > They do actually have a bit of a point. Rear wheel braking is not
    > terribly effective, and a fixie with no front brake (or any bike with
    > no front brake) is not going to pull up as well as a bike with a
    > working front brake.

    <snip>
    > Odd that this didn't come up in the case, either the prosecuting copper
    > didn't do his homework, and/or the defendant was determined to obscure
    > the truth. Brakes should be judged by how well they stop a vehicle
    > from speed, not some irrelevant furphy re skidding. That's how they're
    > tested in cars (you use an accelerometer to test brakes for a
    > roadworthy test, if you do it properly, and there's a standard for this
    > in Australia)


    True. But as the Ohion law stands, I do not believe riding a fixie is
    illegal.

    Said law does not require front brakes, and rear brake is only
    required to skid on dry level pavement.

    I forgot to include in my paragraph above "and the same as if I riding
    a bike with only a coaster brake, and the chain snapped".

    Yes, the law should be changed, but it's not that particular judge's
    say whether he can just ignore the law or not.

    --
    TimC
    Truth decays into beauty, while beauty soon becomes merely
    charm. Charm ends up as strangeness, and even that doesn't last, but
    up and down are forever." - The Laws of Physics
     
  13. treadly&me

    treadly&me New Member

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    I agree. The issue isn't really whether it's safe or not (although that's an interesting side discussion). As a fully qualified Bush Lawyer I can say that by the wording of that law in that jurisdiction if the cyclist can make her bike skid under the given conditions then it works as a brake. End of story.

    The fact that the judge wasn't interested in a demonstration is a bit telling, isn't it? And how about this line from his verdict:

    Yeah, thanks Judge - that sounds like a really effective way to stop a bike. :rolleyes:
     
  14. PiledHigher

    PiledHigher Guest

    treadly&amp wrote:

    >
    > > "If your client had a stick she could rub against her tire, you'd have a
    > > case.

    >
    > Yeah, thanks Judge - that sounds like a -really effective- way to stop
    > a bike. :rolleyes:
    >
    >
    > --
    > treadly&me


    If you are alowed to use a stick, surely a gloved hand on the front
    wheel would too.
     
  15. Gemma_k

    Gemma_k Guest

    "dave" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    > Pretty rare for chains to break too. Come to that. And while I would
    > have a front brake and your point about the importance of front wheel
    > braking is well made if its not what the standard requires then its
    > irrelevent (from the viewpoint of the law, not common sense.)


    It's NOT that uncommon to see track bikes unscrew a cog.....
     
  16. dave

    dave Guest

    geoffs wrote:
    > dave Wrote:
    >
    >>Bleve wrote:
    >>
    >>>Foot, front tyre, jam foot between fork and tyre.... it works. Did

    >>
    >>it
    >>
    >>>as a kid ...

    >>
    >>Pretty rare for chains to break too. Come to that. And while I would
    >>have a front brake and your point about the importance of front wheel
    >>braking is well made if its not what the standard requires then its
    >>irrelevent (from the viewpoint of the law, not common sense.)
    >>Probably
    >>not a landcruser out there that could outbrake my 1967 Sprite with
    >>drum
    >>rear brakes either.
    >>
    >>Dave

    >
    >
    > As a kid you weren't riding at 40kmhr in traffic. I am not a kid
    > playing on a back street.
    > I ride a fixie with a front brake and I am able to stop much quicker
    > with one than without. The place for no brakes is on the velodrome, not
    > trying to be cool.
    >
    > Dave, there are videos if you want to do a search on the braking
    > improvement on modern cars. At 100km/hr, the landcruiser will stop much
    > quicker than your '67 if you are using original brakes. There was a
    > comparison on Drive a while ago between various holdens braking
    > distances and the results were scary. I think the Kingswood took an
    > additional 30m to stop from 100km/hr
    >
    > Cheers
    >
    > Geoff
    >
    >

    Huh? I said if I had a fixie I would have a front brake. I said if it
    wasnt a requirment of the law its irrelevent to the court case and NOT
    to common sense.

    Oh and I did an advanced driver course at Calder a few years ago. One of
    many I have taken. I got the fastest stop of the day and was the only
    one to dodge the simulated accident. Beat the one car with ABS too.
    Never yet seen a landcruiser stop with the back wheels in the air.

    A landcruiser has only marginally more tire area and just on 4 times
    the weight. With offroad tires the rubber wont be as sticky either.
    Not a chance.

    After 30 years what do you think the chance of a modified motokhana car
    having original brakes are?

    Dave
     
  17. geoffs

    geoffs New Member

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    Doh
    missed that bit.

    The judge is obviously missing the point on that he is supposed to be judging on.
    When the law was written they most probably hadn't anticipated cyclists stupid enough to want to ride with poor brakes in traffic.


    So what have you done to the brakes on your modified sprite? My brother-in-law is looking at buying one of these shortly and i've been trying to talk him out of it or get the brakes improved.
    Not a big fan of standard brakes from that era.

    Cheers

    Geoff
     
  18. rooman

    rooman New Member

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    What is the message here ?

    • Always smile at a copper
    • Never smile at a copper
    • Always agree with the judge
    • never argue with a judge
    • judges know shyte
    • opinions always differ especially when a bicycle is involved
    • a fixie with a front brake is still a fixie
    • in the eyes of one judges opinion a skid on dry pavement is as useful as a busted chain as a necklace, but not as good as a stick on a sidewall
    • a foot in the fork is as good as.....a stick
    • landcruisers are dinosaurs
    • a lockring (spelling, "lock ling", on a Suntour Superbe Pro pack I bought on EBay because it was so quirky) might save some embarrassment
    • front brakes on a bicycle are your best friend
    • seppos will litigate anything
    • the new religion will win out even if the Census bean counters skew the data
    • In O'reagan, (land of that fine irish timber), where republicans drive pick ups, wear farm machinery caps and have a gun rack, and democrats have glazed eyes, wear sandles with white socks and paint their nipples blue at the county fair...life is as usual
    hmmmmmm....ponder......(drinks)......yup

    all of the above
     
  19. cfsmtb wrote:
    > Only in America? A curly one folks? :confused:


    Hardly. Yay for judicial sanity!

    The law as quoted was clearly written by a complete moron.

    A bike with just a rear brake would satisfy the requirements, but would
    take twice the distance to stop of a bike with a front brake.

    The judge has decided to interpret it in such a way that he has an
    excuse to send a message that fixies should have at least one *actual
    brake*. Good for him.

    Interpreting legislation written by cretins so that it is actually
    useful out in the world is one thing judges are for.
     
  20. dave

    dave Guest

    geoffs wrote:
    > dave Wrote:
    >
    >>geoffs wrote:
    >>
    >>>. And while I would
    >>>
    >>>>have a front brake and your point about the importance of front

    >>
    >>wheel
    >>
    >>>>braking is well made if its not what the standard requires then its
    >>>>irrelevent (from the viewpoint of the law, not common sense.)
    >>>>Dave
    >>>
    >>>

    >>
    >>Dave

    >
    > Doh
    > missed that bit.
    >
    > The judge is obviously missing the point on that he is supposed to be
    > judging on.
    > When the law was written they most probably hadn't anticipated cyclists
    > stupid enough to want to ride with poor brakes in traffic.
    >
    >
    > So what have you done to the brakes on your modified sprite? My
    > brother-in-law is looking at buying one of these shortly and i've been
    > trying to talk him out of it or get the brakes improved.
    > Not a big fan of standard brakes from that era.
    >
    > Cheers
    >
    > Geoff
    >
    >[/color]
    They actually aint bad considering. They will lock the wheel easily
    and they give decent feedback. Really thats all any brake can do. But
    a modern (ha) sprite has much much better and wider rubber. Mine has 5
    inch wires instead of the normal 4 inch and the tracks a bit staggered
    so it has a panhard rod setup on the back to stop the axle moving which
    stops the tendancy of the tires to lean on the body work. Standard
    brakes will still lock the wheel tho. And that feedback bit is
    important. Essentialy on a competition sprite the back brakes are only
    there for the handbrake which is modified to be a fly off. Its
    wonderfull fun watching someone who doesnt know try and release the
    handbrake. The front brakes are bigger disks (often ventillateed and of
    a big motorcycle but mine are just bigger) But thats so the brakes will
    be there the second and third time you use them And modern pads are so
    much better than anything that was availiable then.

    SO dont forget you are talking a sub 1100 kg car with a decent amount of
    rubber and most of the weight on the front. It wont outbrake a good WRX
    or anything with 4 spot calipers. or in the wet anything with decent
    ABS. But in the dry a good one is not bad. And its totally
    predictable and recoverable. Its the feel that sprites are really good
    at. Its not that they do it so well its that you can feel exactly where
    the limits are.

    THe one change I would make to mine that I havnt is to go to the duel
    curcuit of a mark 4. Nothing quite like blowing a line and having your
    foot go to the floor. :(

    Dave
     
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