Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Lucid Argument for a Fixed w/ Brake

Here's one of the more lucid arguments for using a front brake on a track bike when riding in the street that I've read (esp from a messenger).

Are Brakes for Flakes from Moving Target Zine

Brakes by Winston

Riding fixed wheel bikes without brakes in London has become an emotive subject. I am 100% for all London fixies riding with a front brake and here’s why:

PRACTICAL
You often hear of claims that some rider’s skill level on a fixed wheel bike is so high that they can stop in the same distance as a regular bike – well this may or may not be true, but however quickly you can stop, if you bolt a brake on to your bike you will be able to stop quicker!

FINANCIAL
As we couriers are paid piece-rate, the speed we can ride can massively affect our earnings; brakeless riders, knowing their ability to stop is not as good, ride slower…..I’m sure there will be many people who deny this but it’s a fact. We’ve all got a good idea who the fastest riders and top earners are in London and they all use brakes.

SOCIO-POLITICAL
As a generally left leaning / socialist kind of person, I don’t just believe in the government looking after us as best it can, but also in having some kind of social / communal conscience. There are other more vulnerable people than you out there – Which leads me to:

SPORTING
Is being a courier is an athletic / image lifestyle choice for some, not that different from being a surf bum maybe? I have limited experience in three sports: competitive cycling, surfing and snowboarding. When you sign on for a race, head for the slopes or paddle out you can be sure that everyone else on the track, mountain or in the line-up are there knowing that their chosen pursuit is dangerous. They are all taking a shared and joint risk or they wouldn’t be there.
The street, the courier’s playing field isn’t like this. Pensioners, children, disabled people etc. have not agreed to share in YOUR risk but if you ride brakeless you are making them without asking.

LEGAL
By this I don’t just mean: ‘it’s naughty so don’t do it’, I’m talking about liability…...
Consider the following (highly possible in London) scenarios:
A black cab / white van/HGV runs you over, it’s completely his fault. You’re injured, your bike’s broken – you think you might get compensation totalling your lost earnings and a new bike at least? If the driver or the cop spots you’ve got no brakes: that’s “contributory negligence”. You may not get a penny and that driver will be free to go and run someone else over without having received a single point on his licence.
You’re riding casually along Oxford Street when one of those idiot parents decides to use their child in a pushchair as a “traffic tester”. There’s an impact, you feel terrible, it’s not your fault and the policeman spots you’ve got no brakes…. Think about the consequences….

Well that’s it, except to say, if you do want to ride fast and brakeless with a bunch of people who enjoy it as much as you do and are more than happy to share your risk then see you down the track on Saturdays!

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