Thursday, January 18, 2007

when is a brake not a brake?

Some will recall the discussion back in August about how to determine when a brake is really a brake. This grew out of the legal case in Portland, where a messenger was ticketed for riding an illegal bike--namely her fixie, which is illegal because it doesn't have any brakes. The law reads as follows:

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.

And while the trial involved an interesting discussion about the limits of such a definition of a brake, the judge concluded that the combination of legs, gears, chain, and pedal many of us rely on does not satisfy the legal definition of a brake. And then, doing his best Dick Pound imitation, he turned to her lawyer and offered up the money quote:

“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."

In a Nietzschean moment of eternal recurrence, somehow all of this came up for discussion at Scott and Deanna's place on Sunday, while we were waiting for Hal to sort out the answers to his own inane questions. Not exactly sure how or why it came up, let alone who raised it. But that doesn't matter. What does matter is that this allowed Ian bring to our attention the video of cyclists in Portland testing out the feasibility of the judge's stick-braking suggestion. Various methods were tried, with some being more successful than others. Watch it for yourself on youtube. Make sure to stick around for the conversation with the cops at the end. Thanks Ian.

OTT: Buck 65, Blood of a Young Wolf

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