A Type of Bike That Needs Fixing

Fixed Gear Bicycle
We represent bicyclists who’ve been injured due to the negligence of others. Most of the time these accidents are caused by drivers of cars or trucks or government entities responsible for road conditions that lead to accidents. Riding a bike is not without risks and sometimes those risks are created by the bike itself.

Ventura County is mulling a ban on fixed-gear bicycles on park trails after a hit-and-run accident that left a rider with severe injuries, according to the San Francisco Examiner. Parks director Ron Van Dyck says the September crash involved two bicyclists on the Ojai Valley Trail. He told the Ventura County Star the rider who fled the scene was on a “fixie,” or fixed gear bicycle without brakes.

The Chinese city of Xiamen has banned these bikes. The action is in response to the death earlier this year of a 13 year old girl riding a fixie. Last year a 17 year old San Diego boy was killed while riding a fixie. CBS 8 in San Diego reported,
Richie Ditta at Brooklyn Bicycles says they’re different from a normal bike because the pedals are always in motion when the bike is moving, meaning you can never stop pedaling and just coast.

“The bike has direct drive, so when I peddle forward or backward, that’s how the chain makes the wheel move back and forth,” he explained.

What potentially makes a “fixie” dangerous is stopping. Your legs have to be strong enough to instantly stop the pedals.

“You gotta build muscles up to stop properly, and even then, it’s not really enough,” a rider said.

Some “fixie” riders add a hand brake to help slow the bike down. Others do not. And when there’s a problem, the results can be fatal.

Seventeen-year-old Francisco Sanchez Porras was killed last week when the Bonita High School student’s “fixie” crashed into a car at an Encanto intersection.

“We have numerous witnesses that are pretty consistent. The bicyclist entered the intersection without stopping,” SDPD Sgt. Art Doherty said.

Lucien Gregg, an 18 year old college student, was killed while biking on a fixie in Santa Cruz in 2008. He was struck and run over by a FedEx truck. In his blog, Rick Graves, the owner of a Santa Cruz bicycle messenger service, writes, “Let’s face it, fixed gear bikes take longer to stop, and if you have to skid to a halt you are less likely to yield to motorists and pedestrians who may have the right of way.”

These bikes may violate the California vehicle code, which states in part, “no person shall operate a bicycle on a roadway unless it is equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make one braked wheel skid on a dry level (or) clean pavement.” In 2006, an Oregon judge, interpreting a similarly worded Oregon statute, found that fixie bikes violated state law because of its lack of a brake. The judge ruled in a case where a bike messenger was ticketed for riding a fixie bike without a brake.

If you’re a bicyclist using one of these bikes, or considering buying one, you might do yourself, pedestrians and motorists a favor by installing and using brakes. If you injure someone while riding a fixie, it may be you who could be sued if you, and your bicycle, caused the accident.

The personal injury attorneys at the Weber & Nierenberg law firm are well-experienced in bicycle accidents, as well as motorcycle, bus, truck, and pedestrian accident cases, and will work hard and competently to obtain complete compensation for your injuries and losses.

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