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Fixie Bill Introduced



Inside the Capitol


Fixie Bill Introduced


The Oregonian, March 02, 2007


By Harry Esteve


Attention all you fans of "fixies" out there -- yeah, you know who you are. You ride stripped-down road bicycles or track bikes with fixed gears. You disdain brakes. Occasionally, you get nailed for it and find yourself explaining to a skeptical judge how you can stop really quickly, even going downhill, in the rain, just by pushing back on the pedals.


You feel like outcasts -- and that's the way you like it.


No more. You've now got a friend in the Oregon Legislature. And he might surprise you. He's no liberal bike-riding Portland Democrat who thinks cars are evil.


He's a conservative bike-riding Southern Oregon Republican who knows pelotons from velodromes.


Sen. Jason Atkinson, who ran for governor last year in the Republican primary, has introduced a bill that would explicitly exempt fixed-gear bikes from a law that requires all bikes to have brakes capable of bringing a bike to a skid on dry pavement.


"I've got a lot of friends in the cycling community," said Atkinson, who used to race internationally. "When I was racing, I used to train with messengers for speed work."


Bike messengers, who zip around downtown Portland rain or shine, prefer the single-speed, no-brake bikes for their simplicity, feathery weight and, let's face it, outlaw cachet.


Atkinson cops to riding one as well. "When I campaigned, I always had a fixed-gear with me."


In Portland, that might have been enough to get him a ticket and a fine. Last year, in a case that outraged a hefty segment of the two-wheeled set, a Multnomah County Circuit judge found four cyclists guilty of riding bikes without brakes. The fines were about 70 bucks, but that still hurts.


A bicycle attorney argued they weren't breaking the law, that their leg muscles were brakes. The judge had none of it. Some fixies staged a demonstration of how fast they could stop, including jamming a stick between the rear wheel and the frame.


Like I said, outcasts.


Atkinson's bill, Senate Bill 729, would settle the issue for good. It would change Oregon law to require all bikes to have brakes EXCEPT fixed gear ones.



Woo-hoo, said Jonathan Maus, an activist who runs, an all-things-bicycle blog.


OK, that's not a direct quote. He did say it's a good idea not to criminalize a perfectly legitimate form of transportation. But he also cautioned against inexperienced cyclists hopping a fixie without some serious training. They're difficult to ride. And, yes, to stop.


"Everybody would agree, there's a safety issue," Maus said. But, he said, the popularity of the cycling style is growing fast and addressing it in state law is a good idea.


"It's a fashion thing," he said. In the bike world, there's always some new twist to spark riders' interest. "The fixed gear is definitely in the running to be the next big thing."


Atkinson also is behind a bill that would set aside state parks money and matching grants to build two velodromes -- banked tracks for racing fixed-gear bikes -- one each in Portland and Southern Oregon.


Whether his bike bills get traction is anyone's guess at this point. The Legislature has plenty of bigger issues on its plate. In the meantime, Portland's fixie community must put its hopes in probably the only man in the Legislature who knows how to shave his legs.


Read Harry Esteve's Inside the Capitol blog and other coverage of the state Legislature at


 The text of the Bill follows:

74th OREGON LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY--2007 Regular Session

NOTE:  Matter within  { +  braces and plus signs + } in an amended section is new. Matter within  { -  braces and minus signs - } is existing law to be omitted. New sections are within  { +  braces and plus signs + } .

LC 2511
Senate Bill 729
Sponsored by Senator ATKINSON
The following summary is not prepared by the sponsors of the measure and is not a part of the body thereof subject to consideration by the Legislative Assembly. It is an editor's brief statement of the essential features of the measure as introduced.
 Alters requirements for bicycle brakes.

Relating to bicycles; amending ORS 815.280.

Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:

SECTION 1. ORS 815.280 is amended to read:

815.280. (1) A person commits the offense of violation of bicycle equipment requirements if the person does any of the following:
(a) Operates on any highway a bicycle in violation of the requirements of this section.
(b) Is the parent or guardian of a minor child or ward and authorizes or knowingly permits the child or ward to operate a bicycle on any highway in violation of the requirements of this section.

(2) A bicycle is operated in violation of the requirements of this section if any of the following requirements are violated:
(a)   { - A bicycle must be equipped with a brake that enables the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement. - }   { + A bicycle must be equipped with a brake that enables the operator of the bicycle to stop the bicycle within 15 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement, except that a fixed gear bicycle is not required to be equipped with a separate brake. + }
(b) A person shall not install or use any siren or whistle upon a bicycle.
(c) At the times described in the following, a bicycle or its rider must be equipped with lighting equipment that meets the described requirements:
(A) The lighting equipment must be used during limited visibility conditions.
(B) The lighting equipment must show a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front of the bicycle.
(C) The lighting equipment must have a red reflector or lighting device or material of such size or characteristic and so mounted as to be visible from all distances up to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlights on a motor vehicle.

(3) Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit the use of additional parts and accessories on any bicycle consistent with this section.

(4) This section does not apply to electric personal assistive mobility devices. Equipment requirements for electric personal assistive mobility devices are provided in ORS 815.284.

(5) The offense described in this section, violation of bicycle equipment requirements, is a Class D traffic violation.





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